Provost’s Conference Speech Highlights Relevance of Nixon Impeachment


KC Cruz/San Jacinto Times

Central Campus Provost Van Wigginton pointed out similarities between the Nixon Administration and the current White House in a presentation given at the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Honors Consortium Conference on Nov. 3.

“Eighteen minutes of shhhhhhhhhhhhhh,” were the words used by San Jacinto College Central Campus Provost Van Wigginton to describe the content of doctored White House tapes that lead to the resignation of President Richard Nixon in the midst of the Watergate scandal. 

Wigginton said Nixon continues to be a significant part of American culture where the aftershocks of Watergate still resonate in the halls of the White House almost forty-five years later. 

“Who better to give advice to the current President of the United States about the impeachment process, and things not to do than Richard Nixon …,” he said.

Wigginton delivered the speech Nov. 3 as part of the Gulf Coast Intercollegiate Honors Consortium Conference, hosted on the Central Campus, where students participating in the Honors Program gathered to present their research findings. The Honors Program was founded on the South Campus in 1996 to give students an opportunity to conduct original research during their studies at San Jac.

Honors Program Coordinator and Anthropology Professor Dr. Pamela Maack invited Wigginton to speak about Nixon deeming it relevant in light of the current political climate.

“That is one of his areas of expertise,” Maack said. “There’s been talks of impeachment, so why not get factual information about how that process went.”

Wigginton recounted Nixon’s history of hurling unfounded allegations at his opponents. Furthermore, the Provost noted that Nixon ran his campaign with promises and slogans that echo messages prevalent during the 2016 presidential campaign.

“’I will restore order to the United States,’” Wigginton said repeating Nixon’s rhetoric. “’There is a silent majority of the United States that wants to be heard, and I represent that silent majority.’” The audience chuckled at the familiar-sounding words. 

Wigginton continued to say the break-in at the Watergate Hotel on Jun. 17, 1972 led to what he called the “beginning of the end” for Nixon. The investigation led to the discovery of tapes of recorded conversations that appeared to implicate the president. Wigginton said the Senate and a judge asked Nixon for the tapes, but he refused to hand them over and ordered the attorney general to fire the special prosecutor assigned to the investigation.

Wigginton asked the audience, “Sound familiar? We are having the same debates today.”

Ultimately, members of Congress heard some of the recordings and the Provost recounted what they heard on one of the more incriminating tapes.

“’Welcome to the Oval Office. We are glad to see you here,’” Wigginton recited.

The audience quietly listened.

“’It was great to have this meeting.’ And then it’s, ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.’”

The audience chuckled.

Wigginton repeated, “Eighteen minutes of, ‘shhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.’”