Now Cough

Monday, June 06, 2005

History Shmistory

Nixon's Ghosts

Credibility is in short supply---from journalism to government to former inmates ('I'm innocent I tell ya!')

As Newsday columnist Martin Schramm writes:

Richard Nixon's ex-convicts - who did jail time for their crimes against democracy and then profited from their crimes by writing books and becoming celebrities - had returned to work one more con. Nixon's former senior White House assistant, Charles Colson, and the Nixon team's burglar-in-chief, G. Gordon Liddy, worked the cable news circuit, expressing moral indignation that the FBI's former deputy director, W. Mark Felt, was Deep Throat.

He was the source who had blown their cover by feeding facts to the Washington Post's Bob Woodward - truths that helped land many in jail and drove Nixon from office.

"I was shocked because I worked with him closely," Colson said on MSNBC. "And you would think the deputy director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, you could talk to with the same confidence you could talk to a priest." Then on CNN: "I was shocked, because ... I talked to him often and trusted him with very sensitive materials. So did the president. To think that he was out going around in back alleys at night looking for flowerpots, passing information to someone, it's . . . not the image of the professional FBI that you would expect."

Ah, image. Conjure Colson, with Nixon and others in the Oval Office, as Nixon orders a burglary at the Brookings Institution, a Washington think tank.

Meanwhile on CNN, Liddy tells Paula Zahn: "I view him [Felt] as someone who violated the ethics of the law enforcement profession." Then, back on MSNBC, Liddy brags that not only had he plotted the burglary of the Democratic Party's Watergate offices but, "I planned the Brookings break-in." It wasn't done, Liddy said - "too expensive."

When the face of Nixon's speechwriter Pat Buchanan appeared on our looking-glass/screens, some viewers might have expected a refreshing, ruminative literary perspective about Felt and the Watergate era. Then Buchanan spoke: "I think he's a snake."

"Here is an individual," Buchanan explained, "sneaking around at night leaking things to damage the president of the United States in the middle of a campaign. And I don't see what is heroic about ... that."

Sneaking around at night, can't be trusted, shocked at confidences being used against you...did these jokers NOT work with Nixon, he of the secret taping system, the anti-Semitism, the drunken ramblings, the erasing of tapes, the maniacal hatred of the Kennedys?

Like with Vietnam, there is a whole right wing mentality that hasn't learned one damn thing about history, or propriety or humility in the face of their own complicity in crimes. Crimes against the Constitution.

Liddy, Colson, Buchanan are almost the Manny, Moe and Jack of treason. They would be funny if they weren't really regarded as a) credible by a patsy media and b) certain policymakers who keep re-hiring their ilk (John Poindexter working for George Bush, Ollie North for Fox News and God knows who else.)

And with other lessons not learned, I'll jump on the bandwagon about the press. Much in the same way no one wants to use the Vietnam analogy with the quagmire in Mesopotamia, the press likes to revel in the myth of Woodstein but not launch into a new era of investigative reporting. John Mitchell apparently lives beyond the grave and the wincing fear of 'getting their tit in a wringer' has chilled the press.

Finally, where are the other Mark Felt's in this administration? Those who see a duty to country and truth beyond their present careers, standings and comfort?

Foreign Affairs

Think well of two good friends now spending some time abroad:

David Lee Preston of the Philadelphia Inquirer. He is teaching journalism to students in Beijing over the next few weeks. He reports ample food, spartan university and internet facilities but warm and engaging hosts.

Janet Steele from George Washington University who is in Indonesia wrapping up a book and then off to Bangladesh. Janet is a throwback to another time, an intrepid and fearless correspondent in the original meaning of that term.


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