In the early morning of June 17, 1972, five men were arrested for breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters located located on the 6th floor of the Watergate Office and Hotel building, which is part of the Watergate complex designed by Italian architect Luigi Moretti. The break-in was referred to as a "third-rate burglary," but it was soon tied to E. Howard Hunt, a former White House aid, and G. Gordon Liddy, who served as general counsel to the Committee for the Reelection of the President ("CREEP"). It triggered the resignation of President Richard Nixon on August 9, but he had no direct involvement in the burglary. It was the coverup, obstruction of justice, and other abuses of office that brought Richard Nixon down.
I remember flying to Washington D.C. in the fall of 1972 to see Georgetown University as part of the my college selection process. The morning of the visit I read the Washington Post. At time, Watergate had not become a national story. I said to my dad, "This is going to be a big story."
In William Shakespeare's play, The Tempest, Antonio proclaims in Act 2, "What's past is prologue." Or as Abba was singing contemporaneously with Nixon's resignation, "The history book on the shelf is always repeating itself," which brings us to Donald J. Trump. Since the outset, I have predicted that he would not serve out his first term, either being impeached by the House and tried by the Senate, or forced to resign. We still don't know what be characterizes as a "third rate burglary." Will it be General Flynn's, Paul Manafort, or Jared Kushner's contacts with the Russians, or something that Trump, himself, said to Attorney General Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III? Whatever it turns out to be, the outlines of Trump's obstruction of justice are already readily apparent.
With those thoughts percolating in mind, I decided to stay at and photograph the Watergate on this week's trip to Washington, D.C. for a board meeting. I find that physical proximity helps focus the mind and brings the gestalt into sharp focus. I will say one thing: The Watergate complex is one of the most dated architectural designs I have ever encountered. Moreover it is filled with inconsistencies. The milk-bottle cement decorative elements that line the building suggest symmetry, as doe the curves and the juxtaposition of the buildings. Yet, the windows, window treatments, floor heights, and other architectural elements are a hodgepodge of inconsistency. The building, despite a recent renovation, seems to be in poor repair, with filthy windows and empty retail space.
While in D.C., I also visited the White House, Vietnam War Memorial, and the Trump Hotel, where I was told no professional cameras are allowed. It is hard to palm a shot with a medium format camera. Not much happening in front of the White House. Once again, Pennsylvania Avenue is closed to the public, with Secret Service officers on the street with highly visible automatic rifles.
The Trump Hotel is more interesting. It appears that the front of the hotel has become a place for protest, as well as a backdrop for family photographs. Be they Democrats or Republicans, I am always uncomfortable when parents bring young children to demonstrations or dress them in clothing carrying political messages. First, and foremost, let the kids make up their own minds.
The Hotel's Driveway Entrance Sign
The Interior of the Watergate Complex, As Seen From the Fourth Floor of the Hotel
Milk Bottle Abstraction
"Drain the Swamp"
Life Goes on in the Face of Political Scandal: Crew Team at the Thompson Boat House
Demonstrating for Statehood in Front of the Trump International Hotel
Will This Be the Family's Christmas Card in 2017?