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Posted on Saturday 28 July 2012 in Washington
Two things have been pretty much inescapable on news broadcasts around the world recently - the London 2012 Olympic Games and the U.S. presidential election. As current affairs junkies across the globe watch America closely to see whether President Barack Obama will secure a second term in office, curious Aussies can learn more about the sordid scandals that rocked America to its core on a scandal tour of Washington, D.C.
It should come as no surprise to Australian visitors on Washington holiday packages that the corridors of power in the U.S. capital are anything but squeaky clean. In addition to checking out some of the most famous sights in D.C., Aussies can learn more about the torrid scandals that made the headlines of yesteryear and shaped the face of U.S. politics.
The Watergate complex is a must-see for Aussies interested in political scandal. Arguably the most famous of all Washington hotels, the Watergate was the site where former President Richard Nixon sent a team of lackeys to destroy evidence relating to his reelection campaign. Located in the Foggy Bottom district of D.C., this complex is adjacent to the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts.
These days, the center is known as the Westin Washington, D.C. City Center Hotel, but in 1990, it was known as the Vista Hotel. It was here that former mayor of the city, Marion Barry, was arrested for possession of illegal narcotics during a sting operation. Authorities arrested Barry with the help of a then-unemployed model, Rasheda Moore. This notorious hotel is a short walk from Franklin Park, a few blocks north of the White House.
A colourful history
Of course, political scandal is not a new concept. Even some of America's most beloved presidents found it difficult to stay out of the limelight. For example, while Lafayette Square remains one of the city's most well-kept public spaces, it was here that Grover Cleveland was publicly humiliated over allegations that he fathered an illegitimate child while running for office.
A mere stone's throw away, the Decatur House on Lafayette Square was the former residence of Daniel Sickles, a decorated Civil War general. Sickles fatally shot his wife at their home after discovering she had engaged in an illicit affair with one of his closest friends. Interestingly, this infamous case led to the first plea of temporary insanity in U.S. legal history.
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