Tag Archives: Richard Nixon

Happy Watergate Day, everyone!

I want to wish everyone who gives a crap a happy Watergate Day.

It was 45 years ago today that President Nixon walked out of the White House for the final time as the nation’s leader. He boarded the helicopter, flashed that goofy “V for Victory” salute and then lifted off into oblivion.

Nixon quit the presidency on Aug. 9, 1974 rather than face certain impeachment by the House of Representatives for — dang! — obstruction of justice and other crimes related to the Watergate burglary at the Democratic National Headquarters in June 1972.

Actually, it fell to some Republican heroes to deliver the bad news to the president about his political future. Sen. Barry Goldwater — Mr. Conservative — led a GOP congressional delegation to the White House to tell the president he didn’t have the support to withstand a trial in the Senate. He was toast. A goner. His political goose was being cooked in that moment.

So, Nixon cut his losses and quit.

Thankfully, he had chosen a decent and honest man in Vice President Gerald Ford to succeed him. Ford got the call after another crook, VP Spiro Agnew, quit in the wake of a growing bribery scandal.

President Ford told us “our Constitution works” and that our “long national nightmare is over.” It did and it was. Sadly, we’re in the midst of another nightmarish circumstance that likely won’t end the way the earlier trauma ended 45 years ago. Why? The party of the president lacks the guts it exhibited when those senators spoke “truth to power” to Richard Nixon.

That was then. The here and now is still playing out.

I believe I’ll pray for the country.

Preferring a centrist/moderate to challenge Trump

The older I get the less radical my political thinking becomes.

I once considered myself a radical. In 1972, for instance, I got to cast my first vote for president of the United States. I voted proudly for Sen. George McGovern, who went on to lose 49 of 50 states against President Richard Nixon. It didn’t matter to me that I was backing a doomed candidate. I had just returned home from the Army, served some time in Vietnam, came home from that war wondering what in the world we were doing over there. I wanted the war to end; Sen. McGovern was going to end it.

I have learned over the years, now that I am a whole lot older, that radical politicians usually fare poorly at the ballot box.

To that end, I am leaning heavily toward a centrist/moderate Democrat to win the party’s nomination to run against Donald John Trump in November 2020.

The radical progressives running for POTUS this year tend to annoy me. I refer to the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Bill DiBlasio for starters. Of the three I just mentioned, Sanders is the most annoying of all; he sings off a single page in his political hymn book, the one titled “income inequality.”

My tendency is to lean toward someone such as Joe Biden, the former vice president. I get that he has taken a lot of fire from many of his Democratic Party primary foes. Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, DiBlasio, Julian Castro and John Delaney have unloaded on him.

A large number of other Democratic candidates are likely to fade away. I am sorry to project that one of them might be Beto O’Rourke, the Texan who once captured the country’s imagination by giving Ted Cruz a serious scare in the 2018 midterm election for the U.S. Senate.

Is the former VP the man to beat Trump? Time will have to tell on that one. He hasn’t looked like it at these two Democratic joint appearances. However, it is still early, man.

There might be another moderate to emerge. If one does come forth, I intend to give that individual a careful look.

Radicalism doesn’t sell with me. I’m too old for that these days.

When did GOP surrender its anti-Russia standing?

Those of us who are old enough to remember such things must be wondering: What has become of the Republican Party’s historic animosity toward Russia?

The party of Ike, Nixon and Reagan has become squishier than the Democrats were during those earlier eras. Russia — which once was known as the Soviet Union — attacked our electoral system in 2016. They did with malicious intent to disrupt our process and sow discontent among Americans about the integrity of our voting system.

They have succeeded.

Democrats now are incensed. Republicans? They are silent.

Democrats are pushing for measures in Congress that would strengthen electoral integrity and security. Republican leaders are blocking it.

Former special counsel Robert Mueller III told the nation that Russians not only attacked our 2016 electoral system in “sweeping” and “systematic” fashion, but are in the process of attacking our system at this moment.

The GOP leadership in Congress — and in the White House — are acting as if, “Hey, no big deal!”

History reminds us that in the days of Dwight Eisenhower, we shored up our military to counter the Soviet Union’s aspirations to become he world’s greatest power. Then came Richard Nixon, the noted communist-hater who made no apologies for his hatred and mistrust of the Soviet leadership. After that, the nation heard Ronald Reagan refer to the USSR as the “evil empire” and once joked into an open mic that he had just “outlawed Russia; bombing begins in five minutes.”

These days the equation has been flipped on its ear. Republicans give Russians a pass on the attack they have launched on our electoral system. Democrats have become the hardliners.

I believe this is a manifestation of the Donald Trump Era of national politics. What once was “normal” no longer is normal. Conduct we used to abhor has become part of what we believe is a “new normal.”

Russian attacks on our political system that used to become fodder for Republican politicians’ ire have become reasons for them to zip their lips. They say nothing. Meanwhile, the Democrats have become the hardliners.

What gives?

Recalling one tough ‘S.O.B.’ and how he would react to Trump

I have been thinking a good bit in recent days of my former congressman, arguably the meanest, most irascible, most ferocious partisan ever to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives.

The late Jack Brooks was that man. He called himself Sweet Old Brooks. You get how the initials spell out and how they likely refer to their more, um, colloquial meaning.

Brooks — who represented the Golden Triangle of Texas from 1953 until 1995 — was one mean dude. It is no stretch to say that he hated Republicans. He served on the House Judiciary Committee that approved articles of impeachment against President Nixon in 1974. I read a fascinating Politico piece recently that told how Brooks actually authored the articles to ensure they were written with unassailable precision.

How would Sweet Old Brooks react to what we’re debating today?

I truly believe in my gut that he would be calling for Trump’s head on the proverbial platter, or perhaps even some pertinent body parts as well, if you know what I mean.

Jack Brooks was one of many Texas proteges of the great House Speaker Sam Rayburn, who took other political fledglings under his wing. Men such as Lyndon Johnson and Jim Wright (another U.S. House speaker) owed their political success to the mentorship provided by Mr. Sam.

However, Brooks was wired differently than LBJ or Speaker Wright. President Johnson learned to work with Republicans, who helped him enact the Civil Rights and Voting Rights acts. He needed those Republicans to counter the opposition he was getting from southern Democrats who remained faithful to their segregationist past.

To be clear, Jack Brooks was not among those southern Democrats who resisted LBJ. He supported the president’s efforts in the House. A large part of his Southeast Texas constituency comprised African-Americans in Beaumont and Port Arthur.

Brooks, though, was among the toughest, meanest politicians I ever met. I do not recall in all the discussions I had with him that Brooks would offer unsolicited praise for Republican politicians. He considered President Reagan to be a dunce and a dolt.

How would he react to the conduct of the current Republican president? He would find a way to send Donald Trump packing. Of that I am absolutely certain.

He surely was an SOB, but he was our SOB.

Dean testimony provides a preview of what we might see

John Dean sat before the U.S. House Judiciary Committee today to offer the panel some historical context. He wasn’t there as a “fact witness” with specific knowledge of the matters involving Donald Trump’s conduct during the most recent presidential campaign.

However, he was there to provide some historical perspective gleaned from his role as White House counsel during the Watergate scandal of 1973-74.

I agree that Dean was a dubious “expert,” given his own culpability in the crimes committed during President Nixon’s administration.

However, we might have gotten a preview of what we could expect if the House Judiciary panel decides to launch a full-blown impeaching proceeding against Donald Trump.

What might that include? It might — indeed, it likely will — include Republicans on the panel who will seek to denigrate the credibility of every Trump critic who seeks to make the case for impeaching the president.

We heard it today from GOP members who sought to ridicule Dean’s appearance. By “ridicule,” I mean to suggest that they inferred that since Dean wasn’t there to discuss the “facts” of the Trump matter, they would ask him questions about subjects that had nothing to do with the issues at hand. They sought to suggest that as a convicted felon who lost his law license he had no credibility on anything.

Did we hear anyone of the GOP members defending Donald Trump’s character? Did they speak to the president’s honesty, his integrity, his courage, his commitment to public service?

Umm. I didn’t hear it. Did you?

What I heard was an effort to denigrate, disparage and disrespect a witness who took an oath to tell those members of Congress the truth.

I believe it’s good to keep this conduct in mind if the House Judiciary Committee decides to launch impeachment proceedings yet again.

Who will be the GOP ‘hero’?

Bill Press is old enough to remember the Watergate scandal. He also is a fierce Democratic partisan who cheered the resignation of President Nixon in 1974.

He’s now a Democratic Party “elder” who writes commentaries on occasion and speaks for Democrats who are engaged in a fight with another Republican in the White House, Donald Trump.

He wonders now whether there are any Republicans who will stand up to Donald Trump the way they stood up in 1974 to Richard Nixon. Press isn’t holding his breath. Neither are many of the rest of us.

Trump is fighting with House and Senate Democrats over the president’s assertion of executive power/privilege at the expense of the legislative power. Congress is demanding that Trump turn over his tax returns; Democrats want to talk to key White House aides; they are insisting on seeing the full, unredacted report filed by special counsel Robert S. Mueller III.

Trump is having none of it.

Press wonders whether any of the Republicans in the House and Senate who are standing up for Trump will begin standing up to him if he continues his assault on the constitutional concept of “co-equal power” shared by those three branches of government: Congress, the White House and the courts.

He fears the worst. Press concludes in an essay: “The difference is, under Watergate, there were brave Republicans willing to stand up to their president: Bill Cohen of Maine and Lawrence Hogan of Maryland in the House; Barry Goldwater of Arizona and Hugh Scott of Pennsylvania in the Senate. Today, especially among cowardly Senate Republicans, we’re waiting for the first one with enough guts to stand up against Trump. It looks like it’s going to be a long wait.”

It took a GOP congressional delegation to troop to the White House to tell President Nixon he didn’t have the votes to withstand a Senate trial once the House impeached him. That’s when Nixon quit.

Is there a hero among the current crop of GOP lawmakers? I fear not.

Chairman Nadler: We are in a constitutional crisis

I believe I will stand with U.S. House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler, who today declared that the United States of America has become ensnared in a “constitutional crisis.”

Is it worse than, say, the crisis that led to President Clinton’s impeachment in 1999? Or worse than the Watergate matter that came within one House vote of impeaching President Nixon, before the president resigned in 1974?

I do not know how bad this has gotten.

However, I believe Chairman Nadler is correct. We are in a crisis of a highly serious nature. The Judiciary Committee had just voted to hold Attorney General William Barr in contempt of Congress before Nadler made his “constitutional crisis” declaration.

Donald John Trump has stuck it in the ear of Congress, invoking “executive privilege” and denying lawmakers access to anything — or anyone — involved in matters relating to The Russia Thing.

The president is suggesting Congress has no power to carry out its constitutional duties. Attorney General William Barr has refused to release the complete and unredacted report filed by special counsel Robert Mueller — and has refused to testify before Nadler’s committee.

The fight is on!

Where it goes remains anyone’s guess at this point. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi continues to oppose immediate impeachment procedures against the president. Why? She knows the danger of impeaching the president, only to have him walk away with an acquittal in a Senate trial. Pelosi can count votes as well as — or better than — most members of Congress. I happen to concur with her view about the impossibility of an impeachment, at least at this juncture.

None of that lessens the dangerous territory into which the nation is heading, according to Chairman Jerrold Nadler.

House Democrats are furious. Trump is angry with them. It has become a monumental game of chicken between the two co-equal branches of government. Neither side is likely to blink.

The end game well could produce the ugliest battle any of us have ever witnessed.

I don’t know about you, but I do not yet have the stomach to witness it. The potential for permanent damage to our system of government is scaring me sh**less.

Trump tempts political fate by ordering witnesses to stay silent

I just have to ask: Is Donald Trump committing an act of potential political suicide by refusing to allow witnesses from his administration to testify before congressional committees?

Another president, Richard Nixon, sought to play the same card in 1974. It cost him bigly. President Nixon told House Judiciary Committee Chairman Peter Rodino he would get nothing more from the administration regarding the Watergate matter.

Rodino wouldn’t accept that. He was able to force the president to turn over pertinent material related to the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters in June 1972. The rest, as they say, is history. The Judiciary panel approved articles of impeachment and then the president resigned.

Forty-five years later, Donald Trump is seeking to play the same hand. He is telling the current House Judiciary chairman, Jerrold Nadler, that he will withhold information from that panel as it seeks to uncover the truth into allegations of obstruction of justice into the Russia matter that’s been in all the papers of late.

Nadler doesn’t strike me as being any more likely to cave in to this president’s demands than Rodino was in 1974 when Richard Nixon tried to bully him.

I among those Americans who does not favor impeaching Trump. I want the House and the Senate to do their work. Special counsel Robert Mueller appears headed to Capitol Hill eventually to talk to both legislative chambers.

I want Mueller to state on the record whether he believes Trump committed a crime, whether he obstructed justice. If he won’t say it, well, we need to accept what we won’t get. Then again, if he says that president did commit a crime of obstruction, but that Mueller just couldn’t commit to issuing a criminal complaint, well . . . then we have a ballgame.

Richard Nixon’s stonewalling ended badly for his presidency in 1974. Donald Trump’s reprise of that strategy well could doom his own presidency.

Happy Earth Day!

This is the third Earth Day we have noted since Donald Trump became president.

Yes, the two elements are related.

There used to be a time when presidents of both parties would salute efforts to save our planet from ourselves. Donald Trump took office in January 2017 and immediately began dismantling environmental regulations and removing this country from a key worldwide environmental initiative.

He pulled the United States out of the Paris Climate Accord. Then he knocked aside rules and regulations limiting carbon emissions; he has sought to open up public land to fossil fuel exploration; he has downplayed the exploration of alternative energy sources; Trump dismisses openly the effects of climate change.

Despite all of that, the sun rose this morning. It will set tonight. The cycle will continue.

That’s the good news.

The bad news is that the president continues to ignore the cause of climate change/global warming. He calls it a “hoax.” It is no such thing. It’s real. It needs to be dealt with seriously. We need presidential leadership to take command.

It was on the watch of President Nixon, a Republican, that the nation formed the Environmental Protection Agency in 1970. Republicans and Democrats for most of the time since then have embraced the EPA’s mission.

Is this the end of life as we know it? No. However, we need to pay attention to what’s happening out there. Earth’s temperatures are rising; the polar ice caps at both ends of the planet are shrinking; polar habitat is endangered; storms are becoming more frequent and more ferocious; human beings who live along our coasts are imperiled.

We have to care for this planet. It’s only one we have.

Happy Earth Day . . . even to you, Mr. President.

Tax returns? Give ’em up, Mr. POTUS

U.S. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Richard Neal has the law on his side, or so it would appear.

The Massachusetts Democrat is using his power as a congressional committee chairman to get his hands on Donald Trump’s tax returns. He is citing a statute that requires the Internal Revenue Service to hand over any request that comes from Congress.

The president’s lawyers say the chairman is overstepping his bounds.

C’mon. Let’s settle this thing.

Turn them over

Donald Trump has pledged to turn over the returns once the IRS completed a “routine audit.” That audit was under way in 2015. It takes three years to conduct a routine audit? I do no think so, no matter how “big” the numbers are that Trump has suggested.

It has been matter of political custom — not the law — for presidents to release their tax returns, to open them up for public review. The custom began in 1976 after the Watergate scandal had driven President Nixon from office.

We needed to know then — and we do today — how our presidents earn their income, to whom they might be indebted, and whether they are paying their fair share of taxes. They are, after all, demanding — along with Congress — that the rest of us pay our fair share.

I’m going to set aside for the purposes of this post any discussion of The Russia Thing.

I want to know all I deserve to know — which I happen to believe is a lot — about the president’s fortune. How he amassed it. I want to know whether he skirted federal tax law. I want to know about his debt obligations; after all, Trump said he is “the king of debt.”

None of this should be kept secret from the nation he was elected to lead. Donald Trump, though, is now going back on his pledge to release those returns. He has unleashed his legal team to fight Chairman Neal’s request for the returns.

If the president has nothing to hide — which he has declared many times — then he should have no difficulty showing us what those returns contain. Isn’t that what clean-as-a-whistle politicians do?