My Very Own Watergate Connection

Jim Woods

Jim Woods has over 20 years of experience in the markets from working as a stockbroker, financial journalist, and money manager.

Over the past year, there’s been renewed interest in “Watergate.” Perhaps it’s because of the recent scandals in Washington, or perhaps it’s that our polarized nation is now fascinated with political intrigue. Whatever the reason, proof of the newfound fascination with Watergate can be seen in the recent airing of two TV series that explore this fascinating episode in American political history.


The first series was the May 2022 drama, “Gaslit,” starring Sean Penn and Julia Roberts. I very much enjoyed this Watergate series, as the story centered around Martha Mitchell, the outspoken wife of Nixon administration Attorney General John Mitchell. In May of this year, HBO released “White House Plumbers,” a five-part series starring Woody Harrelson and Justin Theroux that tells the story of how Watergate masterminds, E. Howard Hunt and G. Gordon Liddy, accidentally helped topple the Nixon presidency.

I have yet to watch “White House Plumbers,” but it’s on my to-do list, as I am one of the many Americans fascinated with Watergate and its colorful characters. Yet, my fascination with Watergate isn’t recent. In fact, I have a long, personal history with this subject, one that includes a direct connection to the head “plumber,” G. Gordon Liddy.

In March 2021, I wrote about that connection in this column, largely in memory of a most fascinating man whose life and work fanned a nascent flame of intensity in my youthful soul. So today, I present you that article, because if you are as interested in Watergate as the public seems to be, then I think you’ll also be interested in my very own Watergate connection.


The Influence of an Unlikely Hero

As a youth open to the world’s influence, you never know what will captivate your interest, and what will lead you to the paths you take in life.

It was August 1974 when I, along with the rest of the world, watched then-President Nixon resign from his office in disgrace. And while I was only 10 years old, thinking about that event brings me right back to the Southern California suburban home where I grew up, and right to the scene of my family watching our RCA console TV and, astonished, taking in the historic moment.

A few years later, I began to read about this still-fresh historical wound on society, and I started exploring the reasons why the president had resigned (rather than undergoing the indignity of being impeached and removed from office). At the heart of that resignation was, of all things, a burglary. Specifically, it was one of the most famous burglaries in American history, the crime known as the Watergate burglary.

In reading about Watergate, one quickly comes to learn the name G. Gordon Liddy.

Gordon Liddy was one of the key figures in the scandal, because he was the person who basically organized, planned and sent his team of former intelligence industry operatives into the Watergate complex to bug the Democratic Party headquarters in June 1972.

On March 30, 2021, George Gordon Battle Liddy died. He was 90 years old.

So, what’s so important about G. Gordon Liddy, and why am I writing about him today?

Well, because G. Gordon Liddy helped shape my mind. He also helped me forge my own will, and he helped me become the man I am today. Let me explain.

In 1976, “Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy” was published. My father told me that he heard that the book was very interesting, so he purchased it for himself. But I had the habit of beating my father to the punch when it came to reading, so I grabbed his copy of “Will” and read it before he had the chance.

This book was a huge eye opener for me. Not only was it a fascinating tale of politics and intrigue during that time, it also was the story of how G. Gordon Liddy took control of his own destiny and basically created the man he would become (for better or for worse).

As I read Liddy’s book, I was mesmerized by the story of his personal transformation “from a puny, fearful boy to a strong, fearless man,” as he writes it. This transformation took place via a regime of intense exercise and physical bravado, including capturing, killing and then eating rats. He did this to overcome his fear of rats, so that now, the rats would fear him!

This overcoming of fear really resonated with me as a youth, and I sought out to do the same thing in my life. No, I never ate a rat, but I did decide to confront the local bully at my junior high after reading Liddy’s book. Although this bully was substantially larger than me, he crumbled when I punched him in his ugly mouth. Yes, I can still picture the bloody, busted lip and the tears on his cowardly face. From then on, he feared me.

Fast forward some 14 years, after high school, after college and just as I was leaving the U.S. Army, I had the pleasure of not only meeting G. Gordon Liddy, but of also actually working alongside the man.

Liddy was setting up an academy where he would train security people in executive protection, firearms, military and intelligence operations and hand-to-hand combat. Through some mutual acquaintances, I was brought to Liddy’s attention to see if I could help with the project as one of the instructors.

Your youthful editor with Watergate icon G. Gordon Liddy.

The photo here was my first meeting with “Gordon,” as he liked to be called. One of the most interesting conversations we had was about a project he planned to call “Hurricane Force.” It was to be a private security force made up of former special operations personnel, and it would conduct operations such as child kidnapping recoveries and other “high-risk ops” where law enforcement wouldn’t or couldn’t intervene.

I never participated in Hurricane Force, and I don’t really know if anything came of it. But just the idea of being considered for a private special ops force was supremely interesting to me, especially when talking to G. Gordon Liddy about it over drinks at a Miami hotel.

The more important takeaway here is that in life, sometimes you are influenced by an unlikely hero. Sometimes that hero is less than 100% good. After all, Liddy’s attempted subversion of the 1972 election is not something I endorse. And I don’t endorse criminal behavior such as burglaries, or break-ins or any of the other crimes Liddy was convicted of.

I do, however, endorse the man’s mindset, which cultivated an iron will strong enough to abide by principles in life, principles that Liddy would not abandon even at the price of going to prison.

Sure, he could have testified against his co-conspirators and likely gotten a much-reduced sentence, or no sentence at all, for his role in the Watergate burglary. But what he chose to do was live by his convictions, convictions that told him if you engage in an operation with others, you never give up those others just to save your own tail.

Stated more colloquially, you never “rat” on your friends. Instead, you eat the rat, and make him fear you.

R.I.P., Gordon, your influence will remain with me always.


One True Heroism

“There is only one true heroism in the world: to see the world as it is, and to love it.”

— Roman Rolland

It’s difficult enough to see the world as it is. It’s even more difficult to see the world as it is and still love it. Yet, the cold, hard truth of existence is that no amount of lamentation will change the world one iota. The only thing that can change your world is your own actions. And the only way to do that is to put to best use the only tool of survival that you possess as a human — your rational faculty.

Wisdom about money, investing and life can be found anywhere. If you have a good quote that you’d like me to share with your fellow readers, send it to me, along with any comments, questions and suggestions you have about my newsletters, seminars or anything else. Click here to ask Jim.

In the name of the best within us,

Jim Woods

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