Gordon Liddy In ‘White House Plumbers,’ Explained: You Don’t Want A Friend Like Liddy; Here’s Why

Fictional characters can be created with any amount of exaggeration as needed because there’s no benchmark to compare them with. Sure, the characters can be inspired by real people, but the makers are free to present the fictional characters with as much exaggeration as they want, without any obstruction. However, what do you do when the inspiration for your character is erratic and unhinged in real life, and the TV series you’re making is the dramatization of the actual person? This was the situation White House Plumbers showrunners Alex Gregory and Peter Huyck were faced with when coming up with a character who could capture the eccentric nature of former FBI agent, G. Gordon Liddy.


If you’ve watched any of the interviews by the man himself, you’ll note that Gordon Liddy was a charismatic man like no other, and he exuded charm. However, there is a deep sense of intimidation that is synonymous with his demeanor. One could very easily be made nervous by his sonorous voice, bulky build, and, most of all, the sparkle in his eyes that’s not uncommon in big cats or hawks if we’re going by Liddy’s political allegiance. In all honesty, Justin Theroux did a fabulous job in HBO’s dramatization of the 1972 Watergate scandal. Theroux perfectly captured the nuances of the FBI guy with right-wing leanings, and here are all the reasons you need to know why Gordon Liddy isn’t the best option as a friend.

For starters, any man who burns his hand over an open flame to show his resolve isn’t exactly similar to a well-adjusted individual. Liddy would often show up with bandages on his hand, and not even his partners could tolerate the sight of a man burning his hand intentionally just to show how much he valued his own words. As the man himself recounted in an interview with Dave Letterman after being released from jail, the young Liddy had accidentally picked up a piece of hot coal and felt pain. Therefore, he did everything in his power to overcome anything that scared him or caused pain. This sounds very masochistic and even dangerous, but what would you expect from a person who cooked and ate a rat because that particular breed of rodents terrified him as a child? In the finale of “White House Plumbers,” Liddy explained that Native Americans would often eat the body parts of fallen enemies to gain their abilities so his eating of a rat is justified in his mind. No sane person would cook and eat a rat unless they were on the brink of death by starvation. Oh, and Liddy was a Nazi, or at least pro-Third Reich. Why else would Theroux, who is portraying him in the series, listen to Hitler’s recorded speeches at deafening volumes? Even if all his other eccentricities could be excused, doing the Nazi salute in prison before a Jewish inmate is the ultimate proof you need that this man looked up to one of the worst dictators the world has known, and we need to run in the opposite direction from him.


Despite one’s personal choices, some people can be good companions to their peers and, by extension, the families of their peers. Even on that ground, Liddy failed astronomically because his military regimen left no time for mundane things like emotions. Liddy pointed his service revolver at his partner Howard Hunt’s youngest son, David, because he was playing with a toy gun. Howard learned time and again that Liddy was a highly unpredictable loon who could twist his colleague’s arm for placing a hand on Liddy’s shoulder. Death is always a somber topic, no matter which ideals one follows, but for Hunt’s partner, his overarching sense of duty eclipses even the death of Howard’s wife. Would you really want to be friends with a man who constantly pokes his friend to talk about business as he mourns his wife at her funeral? No, because that is not only unhinged but an insensitive thing to do. But if someone is eccentric, the most obvious social clues can often elude them. We’ve all had a boss or a colleague we felt like thrashing because of how mind-numbingly horrible they are, but Liddy was crazy enough to pick up a pencil and almost stab the White House counsel, John Dean, because Liddy didn’t like his voice. Knowing where to draw the line is what separates us from beasts, but it seems Liddy didn’t get the memo during his military exercise regimen.

The other trait that Liddy was unabashed about was the rampant sexism and misogyny he propagated at home. His wife, Frances, had been instructed never to interfere with his work and wasn’t allowed to question his decisions. This isn’t so much as being unhinged but more of not knowing that he was supposed to treat women with respect, and we can chalk this up to the misogyny that was common during the ’70s. Howard Hunt wasn’t much better, but even he respected Dorothy’s views and took her opinions into consideration, while Frances was shunned completely. Liddy’s wife had been told that her role was to cook food and take care of the children, and she needed to be satisfied with these two activities. It’s not pleasant to have a man like that over at your house because no one would want their wife or daughter to be insulted from a sexist perspective, least of all someone as eccentric as Liddy.


However, in times of crisis, you’d definitely want Liddy as an advisor or, better yet, right there with you in the line of action. Not only did the former FBI agent know how to keep calm in the face of danger, but he didn’t mind risking his life while trying to uphold what he believed in. After all, he truly was the “soldier” he repeatedly described himself as and wouldn’t surrender his integrity. Additionally, Liddy cared for his partner Howard so much that he lifted the full-grown Howard in his arms after the latter collapsed from a stroke and rushed him to the prison’s medical wing. He even took time to prepare a diet and exercise chart for his cell buddy Howard, so it goes to show that, although an eccentric man, Liddy was a ‘ride or die’ kind of man when it came to service. That aside, he’s a terrible company to have, and Howard severed all contact with him after he realized just how much trouble G. Gordon Liddy actually was.

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Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh Talukdar
Indrayudh has a master's degree in English literature from Calcutta University and a passion for all things in cinema. He loves writing about the finer aspects of cinema, although he is also an equally big fan of webseries and anime. In his free time, Indrayudh loves playing video games and reading classic novels.

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