Nixon and the UW-Madison


If anyone has caused former President Richard M. Nixon to roll over in his grave–more than once– it would be the colorful, determined Nixon scholar Stanley Kutler. Kutler is an Emeritus Professor of History at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Law School. His lawsuit against the National Archives and Richard Nixon led to the 1996 release of the full Watergate tapes collection. Kutler’s book, Abuse of Power; The New Nixon Tapes, digs deep into what the tapes reveal about the enigmatic 37th President of the United States.

Now comes another Nixon-related court victory for Kutler. On July 29 U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth agreed with Kutler that the transcripts of Nixon’s Watergate Grand Jury testimony are of historical significance. Lamberth ruled that the secret transcript should be made public. Nixon’s Grand Jury interview was conducted at his California home over the course of 11 hours in June of 1975–10 months after he resigned from the presidency.

10 days after taking his testimony, the Grand Jury was dismissed before making any indictments. The reason? President Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon. Kutler believes the Grand Jury testimony may be an important  parcel of Nixon truth-telling since the former president recognized that perjury was at stake in telling lies to a Grand Jury.

What did he tell the truth about? Kutler will ruminate about such things on this week’s Here and Now. Kutler is a major player in the Nixon saga to be sure. But Wisconsin has at least one other direct connection to the Watergate era. Madison Attorney William P. Dixon was counsel to the House Judiciary Committee charged with the impeachment proceedings against the President.

Kutler isn’t the only reason UW-Madison is in the national news this week.


The Princeton Review’s annual College Rankings were released yesterday. There was a time when students at UW-Madison wore a high ranking in the survey’s “Top Party Schools” as a drunken badge of honor. Not anymore.  The besotted Badgers didn’t even make the top 10 in the category this year (14th), a list that was topped by little Ohio University in Athens, Ohio.

UW officials have long been concerned with the river of drunk students who tip their way to the annual Mifflin Street Block Party (nevermind their way home). The same officials worry about the  burbling, trashed sea of Red staggering from lower campus to Camp Randall on Fall Saturdays. Scenes of this sort, as predictable as a Bo Ryan man-to-man offense, make you wonder what it takes to keep up with the denizens of Ohio University. This video of OU’s Rufus the Bobcat attacking Ohio State’s Brutus the Buckeye last September suggests that one thing’s for sure. Rufus sure knows how to party. Be sure to stay with the short video all the way to the end zone.

The minimum drinking age in Wisconsin hasn’t been 18 since Governor Tony Earl raised it to 21 in 1986. But do we, all of us who live here, still have a laissez-faire attitude about alcohol and young people? What do you think? And with only 30 days until the UW home opener football game against UNLV, what do you think UW-System Campuses should be doing to help keep students safe from the dangers of over-drinking?

-Andy Moore, Senior News Producer

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