For those of you not familiar with the name Jeb Magruder, or why he’s an important historic figure, here’s what Wikipedia has to say:
Jeb Stuart Magruder (November 5, 1934 – May 11, 2014) was an American businessman, entrepreneur and political operative in the Republican Party when he joined the administration of President Richard Nixon in 1969. He published two books about his political career and faith journey, attended divinity school, and became an ordained Presbyterian minister in 1981. He served the church for the remainder of his life.
He served Nixon in various capacities, including helping manage the president’s highly successful 1972 re-election campaign. During that time, Magruder became involved in the Watergate scandal of the early 1970s. As a Deputy Director of Richard Nixon’s Committee for the Re-Election of the President (C.R.E.E.P.), Magruder pleaded guilty to conspiracy and served time in a federal prison for his actions. Magruder was the second official in the administration of President Richard Nixon to plead guilty to charges of burglarizing the Watergate complex. In 1974 he published an account of the Watergate affair.
In prison Magruder reconnected with his faith; afterward he attended divinity school and became ordained as a Presbyterian minister. He was called to serve in several parishes, including as chief minister in a Lexington, Kentucky church. During these years, Magruder also spoke publicly about ethics and his role in the Watergate scandal. In the 1990s and early 2000s, he gave interviews in which he changed his accounts of actions by various participants in the Watergate coverup; some of his assertions have been challenged.
That’s pretty much him in a nutshell. The thing that always nags at you, when you hear about these “come to Jesus” revelations is whether he got “right with god” because he had a “white light moment” or was it because he got caught? Those sorts of things we never really know for sure. I suppose there is a 50/50 split. But whatever it was, the Watergate scandal, and indeed the Nixon White House was loaded with nefarious figures who, like situations happening of a more current nature, felt they could get away with it. Whether its blind ambition or arrogance or lack of moral fortitude, it causes events to happen that run afoul of common sense. And perhaps Watergate was a reminder that the good of the nation outweighs the good of the individual. Sad, that we have to see it repeat, and repeat badly.
Further evidence, to paraphrase George Santayana; “Those who do not know history’s mistakes are doomed to repeat them” is more true now than ever.
Here is that Face The Nation episode with Jeb Magruger from January 12, 1975.