Friday, June 03, 2005

Deeply Throttled (Part I)

This week's revelation that Mark Felt was Deep Throat has provided, finally, the opportunity for every former Nixon crony to get some measure of revenge. The resulting atrocities on truth and decency, rife with hypocrisy, are worthy of documentation.

Deep Throat and Watergate are not just interesting because of historical value. We live under the most paranoid and corrupt adminstration since Nixon's, one that, like Dick's, is terribly concerned with loyalty not to the constitution or the democratic system, but to Dear Leader and the concept of "team". Wingnuts, therefore, have a considerable interest in demonizing Mark Felt -- a man who was, after all, one of their own, who did nasty and illegal things to the anti-war opposition -- and not just for the old Nixonite cause but for the current Bush agenda. What Felt of the FBI did then someone in the CIA or State Department could do now. Their dread is palpable. (Indeed, they have done it recently, and hatred of such whistleblowers is, yes, palpable.)

First up is Ben Stein, a Nixon speechwriter, former Game Show host, and generic Republican hack. He blames Felt for ..well, I can't begin to paraphrase it:

So, this is the great boast of the enemies of Richard Nixon, including Mark Felt: they made the conditions necessary for the Cambodian genocide. If there is such a thing as kharma, if there is such a thing as justice in this life of the next, Mark Felt has bought himself the worst future of any man on this earth. And Bob Woodward is right behind him, with Ben Bradlee bringing up the rear. Out of their smug arrogance and contempt, they hatched the worst nightmare imaginable: genocide. I hope they are happy now -- because their future looks pretty bleak to me.


Thus ascertaining Felt's moral condition, what does Stein think of Richard Nixon's?

Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW's, ended the war in the Mideast, opened relations with China, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty, saved Eretz Israel's life, started the Environmental Protection Administration. Does anyone remember what he did that was bad?

Oh, now I remember. He lied. He was a politician who lied. How remarkable. He lied to protect his subordinates who were covering up a ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose. He lied so he could stay in office and keep his agenda of peace going. That was his crime. He was a peacemaker and he wanted to make a world where there was a generation of peace. And he succeeded.

That is his legacy. He was a peacemaker. He was a lying, conniving, covering up peacemaker. He was not a lying, conniving drug addict like JFK, a lying, conniving war starter like LBJ, a lying, conniving seducer like Clinton -- a lying, conniving peacemaker. That is Nixon's kharma.


Right. We've just won Ben Stein's baloney. Poor plucky Richard Nixon. The self-pity of the Nixon hacks will be a recurring theme in this post. But, anyway, where Felt, Woodward and Bradlee are, according to Stein, going to pay the piper in the afterlife, Richard Nixon is now apparently enjoying the sweet refrains of the heavenly choirs -- after all, he was only a liar. (And a liar for the right reasons! Wink nudge to Straussians!)

Next is Patrick Buchanan:

I don‘t think Deep Throat is a hero. I think Deep Throat is a snake.

[...]
Yes, I think he‘s sneaky. And I think he‘s dishonorable in what he did.

[...]

Well, look, it brought down a president.

And I think that cost us Vietnam, frankly.

[...]

I mean, I‘m not defending the language in the Oval Office. What did felt do? He‘s sneaking around, moving flower pots, grabbing this material, leaking it to Bob Woodward.

He‘s ticked off at the president of the United States because he didn‘t get the job. He‘s buttering up “The Washington Post,” which is the most hostile institution to the president. He‘s undercutting the president in the middle of a campaign.


See also Buchannon's comments on this video, where he puts in stronger language the blame for "losing Vietnam" on Mark Felt.

Then there's this:

I have always been a believer that John Mitchell did not want to come to Washington. And Nixon convinced him. And I think he saw him in trouble. And so Nixon tries to help him. And mistakes were made, and dumb things were done, admittedly.

But let me say this. The people that went after Richard Nixon day in and day out to use anything to bring him down hated him long before Watergate. They were outraged over the victory Nixon won, 49 states. He had beaten the candidate of the establishment, McGovern. And they were doing anything to bring him down. And they didn‘t give a damn what would happen in Vietnam as a consequence of that.

In ‘73, we had every one of the POWs home and every provincial capital in allied hands. Two years later, the whole thing came down. And the people ought to ask them who brought him down, ought to ask themselves what their motivation was as well.

[...]

Well, one thing, let me tell you, is, look, people came to understand after this that the same media folks who had taken down Richard Nixon had covered up for presidents they liked and they admired who had done things far worse than Richard Nixon.

I don‘t defend what Nixon did. He made some terrible mistakes. But as I once wrote, you know, he rustled a pony and he was hanged by the biggest horse thieves in the county.


So let us compare and contrast. Buchanan doesn't blame the Cambodian genocide on Felt, but he definitely blames Vietnam on him. Of course Buchanan won't praise Richard Nixon for "saving" Israel -- either the country proper or the illegal and immoral "Eretz" version -- nor will he compliment Nixon for the creation of the EPA. Instead, Nixon is just a guy who was loyal to his friends, like the saintly John Mitchell, and if mistakes were made and dumb things done out of such noble intentions, who is "a snake" like Felt to throw a monkey wrench into such high-minded team loyalty? And whatever Richard Nixon did, it pales in comparion to unnamed other Chief Executives (Stein names names, and they are exactly who Buchanan has in mind). Brokaw does a good job of rebutting the bullshit. Also note the continuing theme of self-pity, Buchanan has it that resentful do-gooders had it in for plucky Dick Nixon because Nixon had beat the "establishment candidate" McGovern (surely the most hilarious characterisation in the whole diatribe) in 1972 -- they did it for spite!

Next we have Alexander Haig who, I am stunned to say, is the most even-handed of former Nixon cronies:

I gave it to him some years ago, that I thought it was Mark Felt.

I don‘t know what his motivations were. I am not one that believes that, if you work for a president, if you disagree for moral purposes or any other with what he is doing, you have an obligation to tell him so, and if he doesn‘t listen, to resign and to do whatever else you think you can do to make the situation better for the country.

[...]

I don‘t think it was Deep Throat or the Woodward-Bernstein revelations that brought the president down. I don‘t think that at all.

They were certainly instrumental in keeping the issue alive in the press, and gave “The Washington Post” a great leverage bar to cast. But what brought him down were the tapes. And the really tragic part was, if those tapes had not been revealed, I think Richard Nixon would have finished his second term.


Who would have thought General Haig would be as close as there is to a voice of reason?

Not to worry, Gordon Liddy will set it straight:

if Mark Felt was Deep Throat, he is no hero. He is someone who behaved unethically, in that he did not take his evidence to the grand jury and seek an indictment. That‘s what he should have done, instead of selectively leak to one news outlet some of the information that he had.


Here, Liddy attempts to do several things tangential to the Felt revelation, including putting the blame for Watergate on John Dean, and to imply that whatever the Nixon Plumbers did, the Dems did the same thing, or tried to, but the Republican's "defences were better".

Again, the aims of the Nixon apologists are plain:

1. Demonize Mark Felt
2. Insist that Nixon was at least no worse than Democratic Presidents with regard to dirty tricks.
3. Claim that Nixon was brought down not because he was bad, but because he was loyal to his friends and a great President, which caused envy and spite in others (Democrats).
4. Blame whistleblowers and the opposition for all subsequent failures in American Policy.

***

Fuck it -- I'm overwhelmed by all the shit out there. Pat Buchanan, on the 6/03/05 Washington Journal programme on C-SPAN, argued, outrageously, that until Nixon, the FBI had been the "black bag" operators for the Executive Branch. He mentioned FDR, JFK, Johnson. But they wouldn't do it for Nixon, hence his need for goons like "the Burlgars". Then Buchanan mentioned, astonishingly, that the FBI "had assassinated Dr. King in Washington before he ever got to Memphis" by revealing to the press the fruits of intelligence they had gathered on Dr King, and this was far worse than anything Richard Nixon had his hired goons to do. Christ.

Buchanan is absolutely devious. J. Edgar Hoover was in charge of the FBI until his death, which indeed created a "black bag" vaccuum, which Nixon hoped to fill any way he could. While it's true the FBI did "black bag" jobs for Presidents, it also did them against Presidents. Hoover absolutely served the conservative interest -- it was not Liberals who wished to have the FBI spy on Dr King -- and in doing so also kept files on the Kennedys. It's true that Hoover tried to blackmail Dr. King, tried to smear him as a commie, and even sent him letters encouraging him to commit suicide. But Buchanan would have you believe that this was a plot of liberals. The truth is that no one could control Hoover, but Hoover's interests and schemes benefited people like Richard Nixon. Yet at Hoover's death, Nixon, in his greed, wished to finally gain complete control of the FBI: it was already a goon squad and extremely right wing (it's especially delightful to hear Buchanan of all people term it "the secret police"), but it was not necessarily loyal to Nixon, just to his ideology. (For a somewhat alternative view, see Jack Shafer's piece in Slate.)

***

I'll dig up some dirt soon on these hacks. Until then, see TBOGG, and BlondeSense .

Nixon thought it was Felt way back then.

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