Will history repeat itself?

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Ed.: 072117 – Words: 1484 – Audio: 12:44

With today’s revelations that the Administration’s defense team has been asked to look deeper into the personal lives of the Mueller investigation team looking for areas of conflict of interest against Trump, looking into the possibilities of future Presidential pardons (even his own),  and the resignation of Press Secretary Spicer amid the White House chaos, it’s apparent people are getting more nervous with each day. This suggests someone has something to hide.. and when that something is revealed indictments and/or an impeachment can be very likely.

It’s often been discussed between the talking heads of the various networks of how similar all this is to Watergate and what Nixon did as the investigation against him increased. CNN even dredged up Carl Bernstein and John Dean as two living icons of Watergate to provide colorful input and comparisons. I was in my mid twenties at the time, recently separated from the military, so I was not unaware of what was going on. Now, you have to understand that at the time there was no CNN.. no cable news networks of any kind. Hence, there were no politicos and pundits providing analysis and commentary as they do now. You had the reliable and very believable and credible reporting from Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Mike Wallace, John Chancelor, Huntley-Brinkley, and the others. Unless you were glued to the printed press to constantly read the news, you couldn’t be a news junkie in those days. TV schedules were limited in their reporting times… unless there was a real reason to pre-empt a broadcast schedule. By the mid 1970’s space shots had even lost their interest with the public to have entertainment shows pre-empted.

But I knew history was being made. Heck, I even have an audio recording (no video recording in those days) off the TV of Nixon’s resignation speech (and the fall of Saigon, the first moon landing, and other tidbits). That “Saturday Night Massacre” where Nixon went on a spree…

U.S. Attorney General Elliot Richardson had appointed Archibald Cox in May, after promising the House Judiciary Committee that he would appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the events surrounding the break-in of the Democratic National Committee’s offices at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C., on June 17, 1972.

Then the massacre…  (Wikipedia)

When Cox issued a subpoena to Nixon, asking for copies of taped conversations recorded in the Oval Office, the president refused to comply. On Friday, October 19, 1973, Nixon offered what was later known as the Stennis Compromise—asking the infamously hard-of-hearing Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi to review and summarize the tapes for the special prosecutor’s office. Cox refused the compromise that same evening and it was believed that there would be a short rest in the legal maneuvering while government offices were closed for the weekend.
However, the following day (Saturday) Nixon ordered Attorney General Richardson to fire Cox. Richardson refused and resigned in protest. Nixon then ordered Deputy Attorney General William Ruckelshaus to fire Cox. Ruckelshaus also refused and resigned.

Nixon then ordered the Solicitor General of the United States, Robert Bork, as acting head of the Justice Department, to fire Cox. Both Richardson and Ruckelshaus had given personal assurances to Congressional oversight committees that they would not interfere, but Bork had not. Although Bork later claimed he believed Nixon’s order to be valid and appropriate, he still considered resigning to avoid being “perceived as a man who did the President’s bidding to save my job”. Nevertheless, having been brought to the White House by limousine and sworn in as acting attorney general, Bork wrote the letter firing Cox – and the Saturday Night Massacre was complete.

This event was most disconcerting and left you with the impression that all of Washington D.C. was just plain mad and going berserk. At best in those days the average American did not comprehend the entire scope of what had happened at the Watergate and the subsequent attempt to cover it all up by the President because, like today, it was all being reported by the press as a bunch of ‘breaking news’ events, all seemingly worse for the President with each revelation. The fight with Congress over surrendering the White House audio tapes… the printed up transcripts with all those notations every time someone (usually the President) used profanity. Then that mysterious gap in one tape. Just one mystery piece at a time to the entire affair being made public. It was nuts.

Up until Watergate I had been pretty much a Nixon guy; hell, I was a republican back then. But….. being a republican back then was nothing like it is now. Him and Kissinger had opened up relations with “Red China”… he was trying to end the war (by escalating the bombing? OK, I guess so.), he lowered the voting age to 18 and I voted to re-elect him by absentee ballot while on duty one evening in Iceland. He and Congress passed an 80% increase in military pay when I was there (that sure bought my vote!) Hell, I was even part of his extended security detail when him and French President Pompidou had a summit in Reykjavik (I saw his feet under the plane walking into the terminal from AF One) . He was also my Commander-in-Chief. So me and Tricky Dick were like buds… at least in my head. By time his days were numbered from Watergate I still thought his guilt in the coverup was out of balance with his accomplishments.. but I still felt it was time that he left office because the entire country seemed in disarray.

But when he departed with that wave as he entered Marine One for the last time and Ford took over you felt that things were going to level out. I also felt a particular pride.. the same kind we get on Inauguration Day, when America likes to brag to the world about how peaceful our transitions of government are, in spite of our political differences. Ford was the right guy at the right time, although not without his own critics at the time for pardoning Nixon. There was also something historic with Ford taking over that few people realize today. Nixon ran for president with Spiro Agnew as his VP. Agnew resigned mid-stream because of his own legal issues back at his home state. Nixon and Congress went with Ford as Agnew’s replacement… at the time he was not in an elected position anywhere. When Ford became president it was the first time in U.S. history a sitting president was not elected to office nor had any elected position immediately prior to entering office. To explain.. yes, he held elected offices before but at the time he was made VP he was a civilian… civilian to VP to president without one vote putting him there. He had to answer to no one to get there. Exciting times to be sure.

My point here… as the Trump Administration’s political future becomes increasingly questionable with each passing revelation, those of us not favoring him as president should refrain from gloating or showing our glee. If he or anyone gets indicted, if things go to impeachment, this will NOT be one bit fun… if you are a true American you will understand this. This WILL NOT be a political victory for liberalism, nor will it be a defeat of conservatism. Forget that crap. We can be proud that the Constitution will carry us through to another day, whatever that day is. But collectively.. it’s WE, the people, that are responsible that things came to this. Why?

First off, our nation consistently has a crappy turnout in voters for each election. Likely this resulted in the rare quirk in the electoral process that managed to elect a president with a minority of the popular vote. This led to electing a minority candidate so far out of step with the requirements for the position. It also, and most importantly, placed the new administration in a no-win position of not having support from the majority of the country. Hence constant fights, challenges, and divisions on policy. Getting people to vote has to come from within each of us. Maybe having experienced the current administration we will become inspired more in future elections to vote. But the other issue is fixing or eliminating the electoral college. No need for it anymore. Sadly… it appears Congress could care less.

In the meantime… while I favor getting Trump out of office I think of it as a tooth extraction… or even a kidney stone… and not an early(?) Christmas present. There’s gonna be a lot of pain before we see any relief.

Carry On America