Tuesday, July 15, 2014

“I” is for “Impeachment”… and for “Idiots”

Why conservatives lose

Thomas Sowell gets it


Whenever Democrats are in real trouble politically, the Republicans seem to come up with something new that distracts the public’s attention from the Democrats’ problems. Who says Republicans are not compassionate?

With public opinion polls showing President Obama’s sinking approval rate, in the wake of his administration’s multiple fiascoes and scandals the disgraceful treatment of veterans who need medical care, the Internal Revenue Service coverups, the tens of thousands of children flooding across our open border Republicans have created two new distractions that may yet draw attention away from the Democrats’ troubles.

From the Republican establishment, Speaker of the House John Boehner has announced plans to sue Barack Obama for exceeding his authority. And from the Tea Party wing of the Republicans, former Governor Sarah Palin has called for impeachment of the president.
Calling for impeachment is a great way to fire up parts of the base. As Dr. Sowell points out, it only helps the administration and their allies with the public at large.

Carl Bernstein tells an interesting story from the fall of 1972 when Nixon was cruising to his landslide:

As recounted in All the President’s Men, during this period Bob and I would often meet for coffee in a little vending machine room off the newsroom floor. These were our strategy sessions. Just the two of us, and really bad cups of coffee. We reviewed the status of where we were on each story, and discussed what kind of presentation we would make that day to our editors. Sometimes, we thought, they were awfully slow to recognize the value of a particular piece of our work. We had elaborate good-cop/bad-cop routines that we more or less rehearsed over the coffee. Usually I was the bad cop.

One of our conversations in the vending machine room was intentionally left out of All the President’s Men.

During the fall of 1972 we had established that there was a secret cash slush fund maintained by the Nixon re-election committee CREEP. It had financed the Watergate break-in operation and other campaign espionage and sabotage. The key to discovering the possible involvement by higher-ups was this fund. The CREEP treasurer, Hugh Sloan, and the bookkeeper, Judy Hoback, had after several days of teeth-pulling interview sessions told us that John Mitchell was one of the five who controlled the fund. Deep Throat had confirmed this. Mitchell, Nixon’s former law partner, former campaign manager and former attorney general of the United States, was the ultimate higher-up. The man. And we were about to write a story saying that the man was a criminal.

As we reviewing the story and its implications, I put a coin into the coffee machine and experienced a literal chill going down my neck--a sensation sufficiently vivid, unanticipated and unprecedented that I recall it even now with almost a shudder.

“Oh my God,” I said to Bob. My back was to him. I turned. “The president is going to be impeached.”

Bob sat motionless. He looked at me for a second or two in the strangest way. But it was not a look of skepticism or any sense of dismissing what I had saidnot the look he delivered many times on my occasional flights of fancy.

“Jesus I think you’re right,” said the staid man from the Midwest.

It had not occurred to me that such a thought had crossed his mind too. Even the most partisan Nixon-haters to our knowledge had not suggested such a possibility. It was only three months after the break-in at the Watergate. It would be another twelve months before Congress took up impeachment, and 22 months before Nixon resigned. “We can never us that word in this newsroom,” Bob said.

I saw the point. Our editors might think that we had an agenda or that our reporting was overreaching or even that we had gone around the bend. Any suggestion about the future of the Nixon Presidency could undermine our work and the Post’s efforts to be fair.

We did not tell this story in All the President’s Men because the book was published in April 1974 in the midst of the House Judiciary Committee’s impeachment investigation of President Nixon. To recount it then might have given might have given the impression that impeachment had been our goal all along.
Woodward understood that the majority of the public would tune out their reporting if they believed it was fueled by an anti-Nixon agenda.

In Watergate, the public was swayed because they were bombarded for two years with facts, evidence, and arguments. Conservatives and Republicans have done nothing of the sort with the Obama scandals.

Historian Alonzo Hamby on the effort that deposed Nixon:

The Ervin and Cox operations shared information extensively and together constituted the most formidable group of investigators that had ever looked into the dark recesses of any administration. Cox gathering evidence for the quiet legal processes of the courtroom, Ervin and his colleagues accumulating information and arguments for the political processes upon which Nixon's ultimate fate depended.
Republicans, with a few notable exceptions, have shown themselves to be something less than “formidable investigators” or persuasive advocates.

Friday, July 04, 2014