Sunday, June 06, 2010

Looking for a Democratic Watergate


President Gerald Ford with his chief of staff Rummyand Rummy's deputy, Dick Cheney

Joe Conason makes an important point about the worldview of today's Republican Party. They have made it one of their missions to find a Democratic Watergate, to pay back the Democrats for, as they see it, forcing Richard Nixon out of office in 1974. In No, this isn't "Watergate" (and never will be) Salon 06/03/2010, he writes:

The quest for a Democratic Watergate that has preoccupied Republicans for more than three decades may never achieve fulfillment but surely will never end. Impeaching Bill Clinton promised satisfaction only to bring deeper frustration -- which must be one of the many reasons that we now hear politicians and pundits announcing the arrival of "Obama's Watergate" (and also why they never say "Obama's Whitewater").
The latter is a reference to the Joe Sestak job-offer non-scandal. Conason reminds us of what Watergate was:

"Watergate" was the place where the president's henchmen staged a "third-rate burglary" of the Democratic National Committee headquarters on a June night in 1972, but its historical definition is the vast gangsterism of the Nixon regime. Watergate involved no political job offers, but a series of burglaries, warrantless domestic wiretaps, illegal spying, campaign dirty tricks, and assorted acts of thuggery by a group of goons whose leaders included G. Gordon Liddy and the late E. Howard Hunt. Watergate meant a coverup of those felonies with more felonies, set up by lawyers and bureaucrats who collected cash payoffs from major corporations and then handed out hush money and secret campaign slush funds. Watergate implicated dozens of perps, from Hunt and Liddy all the way up to the president, his palace guard, and his crooked minions at the highest levels of the Justice Department, the FBI and the CIA.
Not everyone went free in that one. But Nixon did, thanks to the shameful pardon that President Jerry Ford, that great Republican moderate, gave him. (Did I mention that Dick Cheney Donald Rumsfeld was Ford's chief of staff and Dick Cheney was Rummy's assistant?) That began an ugly tradition, which has reached the point last week that former President George W. Bush admitted to ordering the water torture ("waterboarding"), an act that is unmistakably a crime, a crime for which the US executed at least one Japanese official convicted in a war crimes trial after the Second World War of having ordered. And Bush does so in public, unashamed, without apparent concern that he might be prosecuted.

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