He would wake in the middle of the night, agitated and alarmed, struggling to calm his nerves. “I’m not somebody who remembers the details of dreams,” he told me in a recent phone call from his home in Los Angeles. “I just know that they were so bad that I’d force myself awake and out of bed just to get away from them.”He thinks Trump will be much worse than Nixon:
Dean’s near-panicked take on the incoming president is shaped in large part by his years in the Nixon White House. In Trump, Dean says he has observed many of his former boss’s most dangerous traits—obsessive vengefulness, reflexive dishonesty, all-consuming ambition—but none of Nixon’s redeeming qualities.He also puts up a case to be pessimistic about Trump being brought down by impeachment:
“I used to have one-on-one conversations with [Nixon] where I’d see him checking his more authoritarian tendencies,” Dean recalled. “He’d say, ‘This is something I can’t say out loud...’ or, ‘That is something the president can’t do.’” To Dean, these moments suggested a functioning sense of shame in Nixon, something he was forced to wrestle with in his quest for power. Trump, by contrast, appears to Dean unmolested by any such struggle.
Those hoping Trump’s presidency will end in a Watergate-style meltdown point to the litany of scandals-in-waiting that will follow him into office—from his alleged ties to Russia, to the potential conflicts of interest lurking in his vast business network. Dean agrees that “he’s carrying loads of potential problems into the White House with him,” and goes even further in his assessment: “I don’t think Richard Nixon even comes close to the level of corruption we already know about Trump.”He may have a point there. The problem being that hoping for impeachment relies on the American Right not being nuts. There's not much sign of that at the moment.
Yet, he’s profoundly pessimistic about the prospect of Trump facing any true accountability while in office. In the four decades since Nixon resigned, Dean says, the institutions that are meant to keep a president’s power in check—the press, Congress, even the courts—have been rendered increasingly weak and ineffectual by a sort of creeping partisan paralysis. (Imagine, if you dare, the Breitbart headlines that would follow Woodward and Bernstein’s first scoop if they were breaking their story today.)