Post-Watergate Public opinion
The Watergate scandals lasted between 1972 and 1974. The scandals included harassing and bugging offices of political opponents, and other illegal activities by people within President Nixon’s administration. President Nixon’s administration attempted to cover-up the scandals and tried to interfere with the FBI investigations about government’s involvement in the scandals. Nixon resigned in 1974 when his involvement in the cover-up of the scandals within his administration became apparent (Bernstein, 2005).
Following the Watergate scandal, the American public henceforth became skeptical regarding the federal government. Consequently, an assertive congress campaign finance reform legislation and began to probe power abuses at the security agencies including the CIA. Further, the congress began a norm of appointing special prosecutors to investigate claims of presidential misconduct. These steps altered the American political landscape considerably and forever.
The Arab Oil Embargo
In October 1973, the Organization of Arab Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) imposed a ban on petroleum exports to the United States and other countries that were supporting Israel during the Arab-Israel war. The purpose of the embargo was to strain the U.S. economy, which had become progressively reliant on foreign oil (Ammann, 2010, p. 53).
The oil embargo was important because it obliged the U.S. to address its foreign policy that was undergoing major challenges. The embargo meant that the U.S. had to look for alternative sources of energy and stop its overreliance on foreign oil. The oil crisis stemmed from the American domestic political and social conditions, which the administration had to solve nationally. This led to ‘Project Independence’.
The Iranian Hostage Crisis
The Iranian Hostage Crisis refers to the taking of more than 60 American hostages from the American embassy in Iran on November 4, 1979 by a mob of student revolutionaries. The students were protesting the American interference with the Iranian affairs. The students also wanted to raise the profile of their revolutionary leader and cleric Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. The students released the hostages on January 21, 1981 just hours after President Ronald Reagan took oath of office (Ebtekar, 2000, p. 139).
High Interest Rates
The U.S. economy experienced high interest rates during the 1970s. People blamed the high interest rates on various factors such as the escalating oil prices, avaricious union leaders and entrepreneurs, and speculation on currency. However, most people rightly held that the major cause of the situation was the monetary policies that allowed the financing of huge budget deficits. Due to high inflation rate, the economy experienced recession leading many businesses to collapse. The country experienced low employment rate.
The foregoing experience prompted the government to establish regulatory agencies and new regulations to curb the inflation and to avoid the recurrence of the situation in future. Some regulatory agencies include the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Occupational Safety and Health Administration, and the Consumer Product Safety Commission to manage the high inflation rate (Homer, 1996, p. 1).
The Crisis of Confidence
The crisis of confidence is President Jimmy Carter’s speech on July 15, 1979. At the time of the speech, Carter’s administration was facing various challenges. Some of the challenges included considerable decrease in employment, recession, fuel crisis, and the 1979 Iranian Hostage Crisis. Carter was preparing to deliver a speech on energy but felt that Americans were no longer attentive.
Researcher Pat Caddell told the president that Americans were facing a crisis of confidence following the Watergate scandal, the Vietnam War, and the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr., John F. Kennedy, and Robert F. Kennedy. Carter was apprehensive about possible distortion of democracy. He delivered a televised speech in which he acknowledged what he thought was a ‘crisis of confidence’ (Frum, 2000). The purpose of the speech was to reassure the public. Most Americans felt that rather than find a solution, carter blamed them for the economic crisis. Consequently, Americans did not reelect carter for a second term.
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Bernstein, C., Woodward, B. (2005). The Final Days. London: Simon & Schuster.
Ebtekar, M., Reed, F. (2000). Takeover in Tehran: the inside story of the 1979 U.S. Embassy
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Frum, D. (2000). How We Got Here: The 70s The Decade That Brought You Modern Life -- For
Better Or Worse. New York: Basic Books.
Homer, S.. Sylla, Sylla, R. (1996). A History of Interest Rates (Third Edition). New Jersey:
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