— Published with Permission of CoordinationInst.org —
As we watch the seams of the Presidency split away for the second time in my lifetime, the parallels to the Watergate scandal are astounding. Why astounding? Because I would have thought, and did think, that the lessons from Watergate were clear enough to guide any member of a presidential team through the dangerous quicksand of the Swamp. Particularly when the President has the power to stop the bleeding just as did Richard Milhouse Nixon. But both men present the image of Nero fiddling while the city burns. Nixon fiddled through his foreboding days of doing nothing but listening to tapes and trying to come up with excuses. Trump, on the other hand, tweets. But, at least the tweets serve as a distraction while he is out working to secure the Republican majority in the House in the November elections—the House where impeachment charges would have to be brought. Nixon did nothing but tread water while awaiting the inevitable.
My very good friend Don Clemons sent me a gift the other day, a copy of Dave Barry’s book “Dave Barry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States.” Barry says of Watergate: “The Watergate scandal which gets its name from the fact that it was a scandal, began with the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters by a group of burglars so ludicrously incompetent that they obviously had to have some connection to the federal government.” The same can be said for the bungling Watergate burglars; no self-respecting criminal other than one with the federal government could make the mistakes they made, and continued to make as they ultimately appeared before Judge Sirica.
Watching the current scenario play out is made even more interesting by the fact that President Trump, unlike Nixon, does try actively to distract attention by sending Rudy Giuliani to the podium to explain what “truth” means, (Is that in some unfathomable way similar to Bill Clinton’s “it depends on what you mean is is”) and by continuing to escalate the issue related to players exercising their First Amendment rights by kneeling during the playing of the National Anthem. (Don’t get me wrong, I think it is frankly deplorable that anyone would not stand for the National Anthem if for no other reason than just because it is tradition and our veterans expect to see people stand, but there are a lot of other things that I think deplorable too that have been sustained under the Great First, and I would defend their right to show boorishness to the death. To take their First Amendment rights and get away with it means they could come after me for writing this blog if I wrote anything unacceptable to the Administration)
During Watergate, I focused my attention on Bob Haldeman, chief among the President’s men and his actions guided me along toward when something big was going to happen; when he began a big diversion then I watched very carefully for a few days. Today, it is Rudy Giuliani that I watch as the Press makes the gigantic mistake of portraying him as a hapless, over the hill hack. So far, watching Rudy as the shield has paid off for me. He is without hesitation allowed to put forward a theory of operation which allows the President to view the public reaction and reverse field if necessary. When that happens, Rudy simply comes back and says he was misquoted and moves with the new direction. His latest trip through the talk shows leads me to believe that we are near the point of no return between the President and Special Prosecutor Mueller. We will see.
As things began to heat up this week I went back and looked at September in the year 1972, after the break-in of the Watergate Apartment complex where the Democratic Central Committee headquarters was targeted, and in the year 1973 as the Special prosecutor was closing in. In September 1972, the Watergate burglars were indicted by a federal grand jury. In September 1973 things were in expectancy in the nation because in August Judge Sirica had ordered Nixon to turn over his tapes of office conversations. We waited anxiously as Haldeman’s team tried to determine its next step.
I was in D.C. in October of 1973. On October 15, the Supreme Court heard Cleveland Board of Education v. LeFleur and I was present for the argument. As counsel to Governor Andrus, I served also as Attorney Director of the Human Rights Commission and had been elected an officer of the International Association of Human Rights. We submitted an amicus brief in the case which I wrote, and we all attended the argument. The city was buzzing over what would happen when the tapes were heard. We were scheduled for a tour of the White House and Executive Office Building and a quick meet with by Bob Haldeman. We found that on that day our tour was cancelled and there was no meeting for us with Haldeman. It was Judge Sirica’s decision that lead eventually to the Nixon resignation to spare the nation of the trauma of seeing a president impeached. That was the storyline, but anyone who believed that Richard Milhouse Nixon at the time of his resignation was thinking of the nation’s good was, I believe, dead wrong. He was thinking still of posterity and to be forgotten as a President who resigned is one thing, being impeached as a sitting president would be quite another.
After President Trump completes his second term, provided he survives this term, I think we should turn to someone from South Carolina for the presidency. Senator Lindsay Graham has proven to me to be statesman quality. He has supported the President vociferously, yet he paid tribute to his friend and colleague and fellow “amigo” Senator John McCain. While defending the President from claims of uncharged assertions he has pointed out that rule of law must prevail. Nikki Haley has been a favorite of mine since reviewing her record as the governor and she has made a distinguished, articulate, classy UN Ambassador. Last but not least is the youngest of the group, Tim Scott, the first Afro American Senator from South Carolina, he was appointed to succeed Senator Jim DeMint, then won a special election to finish out the DeMint term, then won re-election on his own. He was a tea party candidate and is a sound conservative. Being a native South Carolinian I would hope that a Gamecock could serve as President without getting mired in the slanderous, liberlou mud of the Swamp.
All this madness though demonstrates in neon lights what is right about America; what makes us the greatest Republic in the history of the world, i.e. God’s blessings on this nation. We are made strong by the manner in which we solve the problems, even sometimes long after the fact, and survive. We survived the plight of a starving army during that winter crusade of George Washington’s Revolutionary War army. We suffered through and survived a Civil War, assassinations of four presidents, (we have had an assassination and four “almost” assassinations during just my lifetime)two horrible world wars, a continuing war and struggles in the Middle East and in Southeast Asia, and a direct strike on New York City, Boston, and Oklahoma City.
WE will survive this!