After a tour through Nixon’s triumphs, the Kitchen Debate; the Silent Majority Speech; détente with Russia, rapprochement with China, you finally come to a long, dark tunnel which houses the Watergate exhibits.
Here, you can listen to the tapes, secretly recorded in the Oval Office. Interestingly, many of these specially selected titbits have also had to be redacted to blot out Nixon’s swearing.
Watergate is complex but there is one thing most historians agree on, namely that the extent of Nixon’s swearing did for him just as much as any cover-up. It was Nixon who introduced the term “expletive deleted” into the English language which, crucially, was at odds with his public persona of a god-fearing Quaker.
Which brings us neatly to Andrew Mitchell, chief whip of the Conservative Party, who has been accused of calling a policeman a “pleb” for refusing let him ride his bike out of the gates of 10 Downing Street.
Today’s revelations in the Telegraph from a police log of the incident are not good reading for Mr Mitchell. Not only did he call the policeman a pleb, but the police also allege he included the phrase as part of a Gordon Ramsey-esque rant.
According to the police log, Mr Mitchell said the following (I have used Watergate-style deletions to protect the faint of heart):
“Best you learn your [expletive deleted] place … you don’t run this [expletive deleted] government … You’re [expletive deleted] plebs.”
Now I don’t take the view that the police are infallible, not after Hillsborough, phone hacking and Ian Tomlinson, but I’m not sure that a policeman doing his best to protect 10 Downing Street deserves this sort of rant.
I also suspect that Middle England, where elections are won and lost, still respects the rule of law and won’t take kindly to this either. What’s more, I suspect it is female voters, who Mr Cameron is already struggling to connect with, who will be most repulsed.