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Watergate whistle-blower John Dean visits SCV, speaks to local Dems

Former White House counsel also plugs updated best-seller

Posted: August 15, 2009 9:49 p.m.
Updated: August 16, 2009 4:55 a.m.
John Dean speaks at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Valencia sponsored by the Democratic Alliance for Action on Saturday. John Dean speaks at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Valencia sponsored by the Democratic Alliance for Action on Saturday.
John Dean speaks at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Valencia sponsored by the Democratic Alliance for Action on Saturday.
Former White House Counsel John W. Dean drew more than 150 people to St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Newhall on Saturday, where he recounted Watergate, talked about his latest book, the Bush/Cheney years and President Obama, and recalled a life spent mostly in politics.

Dean spoke mainly about the release of an updated version of his best-seller “Blind Ambition” that he titled “Blind Ambition: The End of the Story.” The book deals with the Watergate scandal and the White House under former President Richard Nixon.

Dean came to national prominence as the former White House counsel-turned-whistle blower during the Watergate scandal. His testimony in the nationally televised and broadcast Senate Watergate Hearings led to Nixon’s resignation.

The new version is the same story with a 30,000-word afterword and additional footnotes.

“I didn’t change a word of the core story,” Dean said.

For years, Dean resisted updating the original book published in 1976. That was until “Silent Coup” was published in 1991.

“Silent Coup” named Dean as the actual mastermind behind the Watergate break-in. Dean immediately sued the author and the publisher of “Silent Coup.” The long legal battle resulted in a subpoena that gave Dean deeper access into the Watergate break-in case and the Nixon White House.

“I learned so much more about Watergate through this research,” he said.

Dean didn’t turn Saturday night’s appearance in the Santa Clarita Valley into another chance to pile on to Nixon’s already tarnished legacy.

And although he minced no words in describing how he thought George W. Bush and Dick Cheney had harmed the country, and that right-wing extremists were now drowning out meaningful dialog about health care, he also took some jabs at Democrats, since the event was hosted by the Democratic Alliance for Action.

Dean noted President Obama's popularity in the polls has slipped, and some Democrats are among those saying he hasn't been as successful or as fast in pressing his economic recovery agenda as they'd like.

While Republicans tend to be better organized, Dean observed, "You people are like herding cats,” he said about the difficulty of leading the Democratic Party. His comments sparked an outburst of laughter from the crowd.

Dean even made light of his stature among his younger students at the University of Southern California where he is a visiting professor.

“The only reason the kids at USC know me is because I do Jon Stewart (The Daily Show with Jon Stewart) occasionally,” he said.

“Watergate seems like ancient history to (the students).”

After speaking for about an hour, Dean took several questions from the audience ranging from Watergate to torture, Bush and Cheney to Obama.

In answer to one question, Dean said he was still not 100 percent convinced Deep Throat, the government insider who anonymously fed information to Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, was really CIA deputy chief Mark Felt.

Several attendees thanked him for what he did to help bring to light President Nixon's involvement in the June 17, 1972 Watergate break-in and cover-up. Others said they were in attendance to see an American hero.

“John Dean is a stellar person in American history. His testimony turned the tide against the Nixon administration,” said Richard Weeklei, 63, of Newhall.

For Jerry Danielsen, 50, of Canyon Country, Dean’s accomplishments in the 1970s resonate in America today.

“I think he did the right thing and told the truth,”  Danielsen said. “He changed the way Americans view politicians and the president.”  


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