Skip to comments.The Scandal Society: From Nixon and Clinton to Obama
Posted on 08/21/2013 4:54:13 PM PDT by Kaslin
Remember Black Jesus? The Lightworker? The One? The next Lincoln, the Democrats Reagan, the neo-FDR? He is now standing next to Tricky Dick and Slick Willie, caught in a quartet of burgeoning scandals, charged with rewriting the facts when they became inconvenient, harassing the press, and using the Internal Revenue Service to get at his enemies, subverting their rights of assembly, and speech. Richard Milhous Obama, writes Carl M. Cannon, and there are also Clintonian levels of cover-ups, literally in the case of Hillary Clintons role in the Benghazi debacle. In The Presidents Club, Nancy Gibbs and Michael Duffy tell us of the bonds that unite former presidents, but within this club is a still smaller subset, the Scandal Society, those shadowed by crimes and abuses of power, who were caught up in snares of their own making and traps that they set for themselves. How do their troubles compare with each others, and with those that the current incumbent is facing? Let us look at them and see.
Born in obscurity, to far-from-rich parents, all three used their wits to rise to fame early. But while the Democrats adapted quite quickly to ruling-class manners, Nixon saw himself as a lifelong outsider, despised by the press, the establishment, and the people who mattered, forever imperiled and circled by foes. Where others evolved as they rose, he took the wrong side of the tracks along with him, never believing he really had made it, and the higher he rose in the rankings of power, the more embattled he thought he became. Never a charmer, he built his career on the corpses of three liberal iconsRep. Jerry Voorhis, whom he defeated when he won his House seat in 1946; Rep. Helen Gahagan Douglas, the film star he trounced in a Senate race four years later; and Alger Hiss, the well-born New Dealer he exposed as a traitor, which opened an early-day culture war, and made him despised by the left. When he was just 39, he was picked by Dwight Eisenhower to balance his ticket, but the hero of D-Day looked down on the eager, unsure, young politician, letting him twist in the wind in 1952 in his fundraising scandal, trying to force him off the ticket four years later, using him as a hatchet man, and, perhaps worst of all to the insecure Nixon, never inviting him into his house. When Nixon ran on his own, Ike refused to endorse him before the convention; said If you give me a week, I might think of something when asked to name what Nixon had done to help him in office; and in his prime-time speech at his last convention, recalled the achievements of his eight years in office without mentioning his vice presidents name.
It was Nixons fate to take on John Kennedy, privileged, rich, and in Nixons words, glamorous, from the rarefied world that Nixon aspired to and never quite managed to crack. Ironically, Kennedy, who liked Voorhis, Douglas, and Hiss no more than did Nixon, sympathized with him and defended him until the day he started to run against him for president, telling one critic, You have no idea what hes been through (referring to the beating Nixon took from the press when he defeated Helen Douglas), and saying shortly before announcing for president that if he were not nominated, he would be voting for Nixon himself. This did not stop the press from worshipping Kennedy, or Theodore White, in the first of his political sagas, from describing the race as a fairy-tale contest that pitted a graceful and witty modern-day Arthur (which would be Kennedy) against an awkward and much darker knight.
His loss was hard, but the coup de grâce seemed to come two years later, when, attempting a comeback in his home state, California, he was beaten in the governors race by Edmund (Pat) Brown, whom he considered run-of-the-mill and a hack politician, well below his own level of play. No one who heard his farewell press conferenceYou dont have Nixon to kick around any morewould ever forget it or think he had a political future. But having nowhere to go except up, he began to remake himself, biding his time, playing the healer. Pacing himself, appearing largely in controlled situations, he had been able to hold things together. But this would not be possible once he held office, and then it would all fall apart.
Watergate as we know it actually began in the last months of the 1968 presidential election, when Nixon was in a very tight race with Hubert Humphrey, Lyndon Johnsons vice president, and Johnson, who was eager to get talks started to end the Vietnamese conflict before his term ended, was in a race against time. Nixon was told of the talks, and vowed to support them. But he also feared that Johnson would use such an announcement as an October surprisea game-changing stroke at the very last momentand had grown more suspicious with time. Johnson is becoming almost pathologically eager for an excuse to order a bombing halt and will accept almost any arrangement, Nixons aide Bryce Harlow had warned him. Careful plans are being made to help [Humphrey] exploit whatever happens. . . . [They] still think they can pull the election out with this ploy.
A third loss in eight years would have been too much to tolerate, and when Johnson told Nixon he had been able to coax South Vietnam to the tablewith peace talks to begin three days before the electionNixon decided to act. Nixons friend John Mitchell called his friend Anna Chennault (the generals widow and head of Republican Women for Nixon), who then placed a call to her friend, the brother of South Vietnams prime minister, telling him he would get a much better deal later, if and when Nixon won. The peace talks collapsed, Nixon won (narrowly), and Johnson raged but was unable to do much about it, as he could not expose the Nixon maneuvers without revealing at the same time how he had learned of them, which was by tappingillegallyMrs. Chennaults phone. Johnson called Nixons act treason, and Senate minority leader Everett Dirksen agreed with him. Nixon, however, had a different opinion: He had saved the country from a bad peace deal cut by a desperate president, as Gibbs and Duffy inform us. The country needed him. He would be a great president. He had earned this, after so many years of patient planning and serial humiliations. He would show them all.
As it happened, the main thing he would show them was how unhinged he could be when he thought he was threatened, which seemed to be most of the time. He had barely been sworn into office when he began to fear Johnson might have proof of his actions, and might be planning to use them against him. He told his aide Bob Haldeman to investigate Johnsons decision to stop bombing North Vietnam, which had been announced with much fanfare less than a week before the election. Haldeman told him that Johnsons aide at the time, Leslie Gelb, had gone to the Brookings Institution and taken his documents with him. I want that Goddamn Gelb material, and I dont care how you get it, Nixon insisted. When the Pentagon Papers were leaked in 1971, he brought up the Brookings plan again: I want it implemented on a thievery basis, he told Haldeman. Goddamn it, get in and get those files. Blow the safe and get it.
Nixons aide Charles Colson talked of a plot to firebomb Brookings and sneak operatives in with the firemen, to go through and plunder the safes. It didnt happen, but this was the lens through which Nixon saw everything. Dangers appeared to abound. Because he feared leaks, he created the Plumbers, which led to the break-in at the office of Daniel Ellsbergs psychiatrist. Because he feared he might lose the 1972 campaign, he authorized rogue units to act under CREEP (the Committee to Re-Elect the President), which led to the antics of Donald Segretti, the many and various fundraising scandals, and, finally, the break-in at the Democratic National Committee in the Watergate complex, which gave all the scandals their name. Whatever Nixon knew of the break-in, he knew of the cover-up on June 23, 1972, when he ordered the CIA to keep the FBI out of the picture, and committed the crime of obstruction of justice. Nixon won by a landslide, but his complex web of schemes had already begun to unravel. It was two years and two months to the end.
They keep trying to lump Nixon in with the groper and the communist.
If Nixon did all that, one can hardly imagine what
Obama has done.
From a friend who was part of Johnson's inner circle: As the 1968 election campaign approached, a GOP operative made a call to the NRC from his office, reporting that he had important information, but feared his phone was tapped, and would call again from a pay phone between his office and Dulles -- where he would board a plane to fly home.
His phone WAS tapped...and LBJ immediately ordered J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI to bug every pay phone between Capitol Hill and Dulles!Immediately!
And LBJ got the information he wanted (of course, so did J. Edgar).
If any one President was responsible for establishing the modern-day practice of egeregiously abusing his power, it was Lyndon B. Johnson. He belongs on any list of the most corrupt Presidents of all time.
And why pray tell has obama’s rotten mess not unraveled