June 6, 1944, the date of the Normandy invasion during World War II, is often marketed as the turning point of the 20th century by everyone from Steven Spielberg to Electronic Arts. And why? Because when it comes to turning points in history that make for fantastic video games, Hitler Getting Rejected by the Vienna Academy of Art just doesn't have as much draw to it as does Medal of Honor: Frontline.
Still, the Normandy landings were far from the slam dunk that most first-person shooters make us believe, since the Allies had someone even more unruly than Hitler to contend with leading up to the invasion: the sea god Neptune. Bad weather forced the Allies to postpone the invasion from the tentative June 5 date, and they nearly had to kick this date down to June 19, which sure enough "brought an even more turbulent tempest." In the event of epic failure, Supreme Allied Commander and future president Dwight D. Eisenhower drafted a handwritten message to be read in the event that D-Day failed. Fortunately, he never read it.
The reason why Wolfenstein 3D exists.
On the off chance that you can't read that, here it is:
"Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based on the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that bravery and devotion to duty could do.
If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone."
"On the plus side, James Bond will have two villains."
The Most Chilling Part:
His opener ("Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold") was more or less the easy way of saying that thousands of Allied forces had died, there would be no second front in Europe and that Hitler and his asshole friends were probably laughing their asses off.
What Hearing It Would Have Meant:
Stephen E. Ambrose examined this possibility in his essay "D Day Fails: Atomic Alternatives in Europe." Had the D-Day invasion gone so poorly that Eisenhower would have been prompted to read that speech, he would have "certainly lost his job," and "the Churchill government could not have survived -- after all, it had bet the kingdom on Overlord" (which was the code name for the invasion). Meanwhile in the U.S., "Roosevelt -- who had also bet the house on Overlord -- would have been secure from a no-confidence vote. But he had a presidential election coming up in five months ... He would have lost the election."
".. .and the wheelchair you rode in on."
Churchill, Roosevelt and Eisenhower would all have their impressive careers cut short, which, holy crap we couldn't have handled, like as a planet. Those three were some of the last people in the world who actually seemed to have their shit together. Ambrose concluded that WWII would have ended one of two ways in Europe: with President Thomas E. Dewey authorizing the use of atomic bombs over European cities, or...
"... a communist victory in Europe. A Communist Germany, France, Low Countries and Italy would have meant no NATO and a possibility of Communist Great Britain. Relations with the Soviet Union would have been impossibly difficult and dangerous. That is a terrible prospect -- but it might have happened if the Germans had beaten us on the beaches of Normandy."
Just like that.
3Nixon Refuses to Resign
While sideways Nixon was busy accepting responsibility for the failure of the moon landing in the alternate universe, regular Nixon was still also screwing things up. The Watergate scandal may not have been the biggest dick move in Nixon's presidency, but it certainly was the most public. Yes, breaking into a hotel late at night may not sound quite as bad as sabotaging peace talks in Vietnam or trying to assassinate a journalist with LSD, but goddamnit, trying to cover it up is apparently worse than all those things put together.
Richard Nixon, the George Washington of liars.
As Congress prepared impeachment proceedings, Nixon had two options: fight for his presidency even if it meant trashing every single shred of integrity to his office, or spare the nation a lengthy impeachment process by resigning. Sure enough, Nixon and his speechwriters considered the latter "Option B," and that is the speech he gave to the nation on August 8, 1974, when he resigned the presidency.
"In conclusion, America, if you want beef then bring the ruckus; Wu-Tang clan ain't nothin' to fuck with.
Thank you, and God Bless America."
It's a fairly standard bullshit-artist speech. He starts off explaining how he's not going to stand up and explain himself, and then he spends about four paragraphs explaining himself. He used a whole lot of safe, "firmly believe that I have not committed any act of commission or omission that justifies removing a duly elected President from office," kind of language. He never outright says he's innocent, just subtle variations on "I'm pretty sure I don't think I did anything wrong, in my opinion." That way, regardless of the outcome, he can still exit the other side saying, "Well, I still believe I didn't do anything wrong. Conscience: Clear."
He goes on to get all martyr-y, explaining that he's going to get into a long trial and investigation instead of resigning because that's more in the spirit of the American constitutional process. "Look, I'd resign right now, folks, but I'm just so god damned American that I couldn't do it in good conscience. I owe it to this amazing country of ours. Let's hear it for America, am I right?"
"Any other country would have shot me."
The Most Chilling Part:
That "Option B" was Option B! That was his backup plan. Also, the part where Nixon desperately tries to make the case that his resignation would only lead to a string of resignations "on every future president who might, for whatever reason, fall into a period of unpopularity." What a cowardly threat. "Look, if I quit, then you'll also lose all of the good presidents who come after me!" What a dickish thing to do. Also dickish? Burglary, attempted murder and destroying evidence like the Watergate tapes and blaming it on your secretary.
Rose Mary Woods, demonstrating how completely full of shit she is.
What Hearing It Would Have Meant:
Had Nixon delivered this originally intended broadcast, it would have kicked off a constitutional war the likes of which the country would not see again until, well, you know ...
Not pictured: Cigar.
By the summer of 1974, the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against Nixon, and on August 9 the Watergate prosecution team was debating whether or not to indict the president. Even Nixon's buddies like Strom Thurmond were forced to tell him that their mutual hatred for black people and Jewish people would not be enough to keep the Solid South behind him.
In short, Richard M. Nixon would have been forced out of the White House, kicking and screaming in a matter even more embarrassing than his current reputation in Futurama and among the Jury of the Damned.