Tuesday, December 14, 2004

December 13, 2004

I remember when Richard Nixon was reelected for a second term. The feeling I had on Nov. 2 was the same I had back then; a disturbing mixture of hopelessness, despairs, anger and fear. I had been active in the anti-Vietnam war movement and could not imagine how a man with so much personal and political negative baggage could win reelection. But he did, and for many of the same reasons George W. Bush did. And, despite some of the very same negatives. Look at the map below. In this case blue are the states that went for Nixon. And you thought Kerry lost a lot of states! Clearly the nation was going through an even crazier peroid than now.

So many who read this column are too young to remember the Nixon administration, but don’t despair. You would find it eerily familiar – an scheming vice president (Spiro Agnew,) a creepy Attorney General (John Mitchell,) a scary national security advisor/Secretary of State (Henry Kissinger,) a mad Defense Secretary, (Melvin Laird,) and a covey of White House thug/yes-men (Halderman, Ehrlichman, Colson, et al. –
(See table below:)

The Nixon gang roared to a second term with a sense that they had been reelected in spite of the festering tumor of the Vietnam War and Nixon’s illegal bombing of neighboring Cambodia. And they believed they had put the final nail in the coffin of liberal even though anti-war protesters were in the streets almost every weekend. And nearly every other country in the world was telling us to get out of Vietnam, that we had no right to be there and had no chance of beating the insurgents.

Nixon Republicans saw the election victory as a mandate. If they could win such a sweeping victory in spite of an unpopular war, well, the people must really like what they say and do. So they started saying and doing it all with a new sense of impunity and arrogance.

Pride Goeth Before the Fall. And so it came to pass for the Nixon administration. Two years after sweeping the election they were all gone, some into a disgraced early retirement, some to jail. Gerald Ford pardoned Nixon, declaring, “our long national nightmare is over.”


Now we have a new one that looks a lot like the old one. Only the faces and names are new. It’s the same nightmare though. A different war that in almost every way is the same war. A different cast of blowhard conservative officials and advisors, who are in too many ways like Nixon’s gang. Look no further than John Ashcroft and John Mitchell. Two very strange men, neither emotionally nor intellectually qualified to be circuit judges much less the nation’s top cops. And that bunch over at Defense… this administration’s “best and brightest,” which, like their Nixonite predecessors believe bombs are agents of change. Words, they believe, are for French and other sissies.

So, in his second term Bush will move his Iron Magnolia, Condi Rice, the same person who told him invading Iraq was the way to go, to replace Colin Powell as Secretary of State. To the rest of the world this must seem like appointing an Army Special Forces officer ambassador to the Vatican.

And now we have the Bernard Kerik affair. An administration that likes to boast of its adherence to moral values chooses a New Jersey thug to protect the US homeland. A man with an easily discovered history of arrest warrants, sleazy business deals, misuse of government assets, even an illegal nanny. How could that happen, you ask yourself? Easy. He fit right in. After all, Dick Cheney’s actions as head of Halliburton didn’t keep him out of the administration. By comparison Kerik was a piker, an up-and-comer sleazoid just beginning to move his way down the ladder. Once at the helm of Homeland Security, with mentors like Cheney, hell, the sky was the limit. Maybe when Guilani replaced Bush, Kerik could replace Cheney. Ah, continuity.

Then came the fall. Arrogance and hubris are natures’ answer natural crack cocaine. After the 1972 race the White House became a virtual crack house as the Nixon gang mainlined the stuff. The swagger was unbearable. And, like now, the message to the rest of the world was “the voters reelected us, so get off our back about the war!”

Of course it would be foolish for we “losers” to just sit back and hope that the Bush second term will implode as Nixon’s did. God knows there are plenty of festering sores from the first term, any one of which if pursued with the same integrity and vigor as Watergate and Monicagate could indeed bring an early end to this administration too.

But, don’t hold your breath. The press and Congress are not what they were three decades ago. Bernstein is retired and Woodward might as well be. The White House press corps is little more than a glorified press release service. Back in the 60s congress contained a core of individuals who possessed genuine American values and integrity -- real legislators who had the ability to see wrong even when their own party is the perp. Today’s Congress is composed largely of men and women who, if they were in civilian jobs, would be calling you at dinner time trying to get you to list your house for sale. There are exceptions, but the wrong kind. Tom DeLay, for example, who if a civilian, would be in prison by now. (Why? See DeLay’s Axis of Influence. )

Anyway, I prepared the chart below to amuse myself.

The Old Nightmare and the New Nightmare

Nixon Administration


Bush Administration



Richard Nixon

Reelected, then faced Impeachment/resigned


George W. Bush


Vice President
Spiro Agnew

Resigned after being convicted of taking payoffs as Gov.

Vice President

Dick Cheney

Halliburton.. Dresser Industries

Sec. of State

Henry Kissinger

Former W.H. National Security Advisor. Dr. Strangelove kinda guy

Sec. of State

Condi Rice

Former W.H. National Security Advisor. Dr. Strangelove kinda gal.

Atty. General

John Mitchell

The first Attorney General to be convicted of illegal activities in office -- imprisoned.

Atty General

John Ashcroft

Resigns after first term. One weird dude with lots of issues, i.e. statue breasts.

Sec of Defense

Melvin Laird

Coined the term “Vietnamization.” Reformed DOD. Pushed to end the draft and created the all-volunteer army

Sec. of Defense

Donald Rumsfeld

Is currently trying to Iraqitize the war in Iraq. Reforming DOD. Is stretching the all-volunteer army to the breaking point.


John Erlichman

H.R. Halderman

Charles Colson

Ehrlichman/ Halderman..convicted conspiracy – jailed

Colson – jailed for obstruction of justice


Karl Rove

Richard Perle

Scooter Libby

Time will tell


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