The term “that’s ironic” is often misapplied. From the hit song by Alanis Morissette to TV anchors bantering back and forth to people dropping the phrase in regular conversation, it seems to be a concept that befuddles people.
Irony is about unintended consequences, expressing something opposite to its literal meaning or, according to an online dictionary, “An occurrence, result, or circumstance notable for such incongruity.”
Such is the case with George McGovern having an office in The Watergate complex. McGovern was about to be named the Democratic presidential nominee in 1972 when Frank Wills, a security guard, discovered some well-dressed burglars in the offices of the Democratic National Committee in The Watergate.
This seemingly bizarre discovery eventually led to the downfall of the Nixon administration. McGovern may have lost in a landslide in 1972, but he is remembered as an honest, dedicated public servant.
Richard Nixon, on the other hand, has other descriptions usually applied to his name.
McGovern, nearly 89 but still very active, has a rich sense of irony, enjoying the fact that almost four decades later, he has an office in The Watergate. Here’s my story on it:
And here’s the Alanis Morisette video for “Ironic.” It’s truly ironic she got it wrong in the song, I guess.
And here’s more on Wills, a hero of Watergate who died young, broke and bitter. That’s not ironic, it’s tragic.