Water Man Spouts

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

On A Positive Note .....

In the past week, a number of DUers have mentioned feeling some stress or anxiety relating to the current political atmosphere. There have been a number of leaks relating to the Plame case; a flood of misinformation put out by the republican machine; and, on top of it all, the Bolton appointment. These are all significant events. However, I am going to venture that they indicate the administration is feeling more stress and anxiety than we might suspect.
History is always a good guide. In this case, I want to review a little of the Watergate era. Many DUers may remember these events, and I hope that they will add their thoughts. Others are also encouraged to add questions or comments.
Much like George Bush in 2004, President Nixon seemed extremely confident in 1972. Nixon's re-election seemed a sure thing. The Watergate break-in was only recognized by a few people as being a potentially huge scandal.
"I can state categorically that no one in the White House staff, no one in this administration, presently employed, was involved in this very bizarre incident, " Tricky Dick told an August 29, 1972 news conference. "What really hurts in matters of this sort is not the fact they occur, because overzealous people in campaigns do things that are wrong. What really hurts is when you try to cover it up."
But, as history has shown, President Nixon attempted to cover-up the Watergate scandal. When a grand jury was empaneled a month after the burglars were caught, Nixon was confident he had events under control. He and the boys mey repeatedly, and came up with an ever-shifting cover-up. During the trials that followed, even though the cases had a few shakey moments, it looked like Nixon and the boys might pull it off.
But a funny thing happens when people at the lower levels of a conspiracy find out that "the plan" is for them to go to jail, and their families to suffer, to protect those higher up. And that is especially true when there was a Judge named Sirica, who felt the prosecutors in the cases he heard were trying to protect something or someone.
That's why Judge Sirica said, "Everyone knows that there's going to be a congressional investigation in this case. I would frankly hope, not only as a judge but as a citizen of a great country and one of millions of Americans who are looking for certain answers, I would hope that the Senate committee is granted power by Congress by a broad enough resolution to try to get to the bottom of what happened in this case."
Now, as Fred Emery notes on page 240 of his book, "Watergate," Nixon was preoccupied with the thought of Senate hearings. He had made a name for himself hunting Alger Hiss in 1948; he was proud of catching an enemy of the Constitution in perjury. "Perjury, that's a damned hard rap to prove," the president kept saying over and over in 1973, as he became anxious about televised Senate hearings.
Tricky Dick was pretty sure he could distract attention by making it look like Senator Ted Kennedy was making the Watergate investigation into a political witch hunt. But the Senate Judiciary Committee pulled a quick one, and appointed Sam Ervin, who was a conservative, to head the investigation up. Nixon was furious, because he felt that this took "Teddy off the hook," as if Teddy were the one being investigated. Guilty people are funny that way.
Nixon and the boys started having a series of meetings. Some were held in Washington, DC, others in Florida, and some in California. Nixon liked to meet with different people in different places. He was weighing his options for sacrificing anyone and everyone else, in order to protect himself. Pretty soon, others noticed Nixon lacked loyalty, but they were still prepared to lie for him.
But then, on March 21, 1973, during one of the conversations that made a great tape documenting how guilty everyone of them really was, John Dean told Nixon there was a big problem, "Because, one, we're being blackmailed; two, people are going to start perjuring themselves very quickly that have not had to perjure themselves to protect other people and the like. And that is just -- there is no assurance -"
Nixon butts in, worried, "That it won't bust." And Dean agrees, "That it won't bust."
Pretty soon, most of the boys who had been willing to go along with Nixon when they thought he'd protect them realized that he probably couldn't protect them, even if he wanted to. A few realized that he didn't want to. So they got attorneys of their own.
Now, private attorneys never tell their client, "Hey, lie and protect others. Now is the time to dig yourself in a deeper hole. You owe loyalty to those using you." No, sir, that's not the ticket. Instead, they tell their client, "You are in big trouble. I'm going to have to try to make a deal to save your behind. "
So, when Nixon and the boys met, they were all stressed and anxious. Why? Because they knew they were lying through their teeth, looking to set-up the others, and save themselves.
How bad did it get? At a point in time not unlike today in the Plame scandal, Fred LaRue, John Mitchell's best friend, told others in the White House that Mitchell was "on the verge of breaking -- suicide." Magruder would later admit that he was considering taking his own life. Dean told of his concerns that his wife Maureen might kill herself. And Ehrlichman would disclose that he had a fantasy of seizing the controls once when he was in the cockpit of Air Force One, and crashing it, thereby killing everyone. Even Nixon would say he had hoped he would not wake up mornings at this time.
I take no pleasure in any human being feeling so desperate that they seriously consider killing themselves. That isn't the point of this story. Rather, I think it is important to remember that as tired and worn out as you and I might feel, we're still doing a lot better than the other side
Appointing Bolton that way wasn't "bold leadership." It was the actions of someone who feels a sense of desperation. Sending that dehydrated weasal Bob Novak out to distract attention wasn't the administration regaining control. It was an administration recognizing that even "former" CIA employees can nail them.
I can't honestly say everything is going to be okay. That would be a lie worthy of Nixon. More soldiers are dying every day. More innocent Iraqis are suffering from the Bush/Cheney madness. And people in the United States are paying a heavy price for this administration's crimes.
But I can say we will win. And right now, I'm far more confident than anyone in the White House. Especially when they hear what their attorneys are saying in private.


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