Posted tagged ‘Richard Nixon’

Mueller and Trump Prepare for War with America the Loser

July 22, 2017

Mueller and Trump Prepare for War with America the Loser, PJ MediaRoger L Simon, July 21, 2017

Watergate ended with a whimper, not a bang. After months of sturm und drang, Richard Nixon finally mounted that helicopter, gave that famous farewell peace sign and flew away. Most Americans were relieved to see him go. Our long national nightmare was over.

If something similar happens to Donald Trump, it will be entirely different. A significant portion of the American public — myself admittedly among them — will be convinced he has been railroaded in a partisan hatchet job. The voters who elected the president are going to feel, at the very least, undermined, more likely betrayed,  by their own government and public officials. Many are going to feel this has nothing to do whatsoever with justice and will act accordingly.

The exact results of this mammoth national split are not easy to predict but they could range from massive civil disobedience to outright civil war.

The behavior of special prosecutor Robert Mueller has exacerbated the situation. Even CNN admits he has staffed his investigation almost exclusively with Democratic Party supporters and donors. It’s hard to say whether this is brazen or stupid or both, but it certainly doesn’t lend credibility to his eventual decisions. At the very least it’s extremely unsophisticated for a former director of the FBI — but perhaps that’s really the way it is. Nothing (and no one) can stand in the way of prosecution.

And then there are the leaks that emerge from his supposedly confidential investigation at seemingly a mile a minute pace. The (always) anonymous creeps who do this are sleazy individuals who — under the mega-narcissistic pretense that they are informing the public of something of importance — undercut everything everyone has ever known about the rule of law. They are, effectively, enemies of the state and even more, of the American people — and pompous ones into the bargain.  It would be poetic justice to send them all to Gitmo.

The most recent of these leaks — published as is so frequently the case by that junk scandal sheet formerly known as The Washington Post — tells us that AG Sessions was supposedly talking about the Trump campaign with Russian Ambassador Kislyak. What Sessions said exactly, which could have been something completely innocuous and no more than a sentence or two, if indeed he did say anything at all, was of course not mentioned. If it was something serious, most likely it would have been specified, but then who knows. We don’t know if this leak is first, second or fifth hand. We don’t know anything about the source. We don’t know anything about the content. We just have the smear. Not surprisingly too, this leak — a character assassination really — was again anonymous (what else?). When Joe McCarthy made his famous character assassinations, at least he had the guts to do it under his own name. (Yes, I know McCarthy turned out to be right in some instances.)

Mr. Mueller runs a tight ship, no? (Maybe he doesn’t even want to. Comey certainly didn’t care. He leaked himself.)

The situation is grim all around. Trump, lawyering up, is obviously preparing for war against Mueller who, in his turn, is apparently digging into information regarding the president’s ten-year-old Russian business dealings. Again, this is a fraught decision because everyone in the informed public is aware of the myriad Clinton-Russia connections (including Uranium One) detailed in Clinton Cash that were, as far as we know, never investigated by the FBI, not to mention the well-documented Russian business connections of John Podesta and his brother.

If Trump and his family are singled out for this when the Democrats have skated, this will be regarded by a vast proportion of the public as selective prosecution further exacerbating the ominous possible results I referred to above.

To take any of this seriously as a search for truth is absurd. It’s more like a blood sport, the modern equivalent of a gladiatorial. Trump baiting. And Trump, as the bear, lashes out.

He has reason to. As everyone knows, cooks cook, plumbers fix the plumbing, and prosecutors prosecute. It’s what they do, part of their personality structure. Especially if the prey is big, and they don’t bring in at least one or two significant players, they feel as if they haven’t done their job. So they work and work until they do — nab someone for something. Trump knows this. The media know this. We all know it.

And bad as it may be for Trump, it’s going to be even worse for We the People.

En garde!

Martin Karo: Obama Agonistes

December 20, 2016

Martin Karo: Obama Agonistes, Power Line, Scott Johnson, December 20, 2016

Reader Martin Karo is a Philadelphia attorney. As President Obama prepares to depart office, Mr. Karo offers optimistic thoughts on what he believes to be Obama’s ultimate failure:

Watching Hillary Clinton’s sad soiree, and the shrinking Obama persona displayed in his latest PBS interview, make the Democratic titans seem enmeshed in a sort of Greek tragedy. Hillary’s self-destruction is all too obvious; but Obama’s strikes me as equally tragic, and equally apparent on reflection. And it reminded me of parallels from another tragic self-defeating President. But his is over; Hillary’s is almost over; Obama’s is just beginning its third act. One could title the play:

Obama Agonistes

Barack Obama will be the first President ever to not literally depart the scene after his successor is sworn in. It is a powerful image and metaphor, the act of the former President boarding the helicopter (think Nixon and his defiant “V”s) or the Presidential jet to leave Washington, to literally leave the scene to his successor. Even the perennial gadfly, Jimmy Carter, took that one last ride on the Presidential jet to return to Georgia. Washington belongs to the elected President, not the retired one.

But Obama will not do that. He will drive (well, be driven) a few scant miles to a house in the Kalorama neighborhood of Washington, where he can watch at close range as his legacy is revealed not to be one. From his front-row seat, he will watch his eponymous healthcare plan be gutted, watch his foreign policy be repudiated, watch his bureaucratic overreaches be reeled in (please God!), watch conservative judges take the bench, watch his immigration policy melt, watch the military cheer his successor as they never cheered him, watch infrastructure funds build highways and bridges (that will not be named after him) instead of disappearing into the pockets of government union members, watch the American energy revival kick into high gear.

As he watches all this, one wonders whether Obama will appreciate the curious posture he has imposed on the Democratic Party. It is too much to expect Obama to blame himself for the decline in the Party’s presence, at every level of government; but unless he is delusional, he must at least see it. He probably does, given his remarks in his Friday NPR interview that his organizing work “didn’t translate to” Congressional candidates. In the same interview he noted the future of the Democratic Party is the unnamed mass of young people who helped his campaign, omitting reference to any current politician.

Indeed, there are very few Democrats in power at any level who have any plausible claim to be up-and-coming party leaders. The current crop are septuagenarians, and uninspiring ones at that (who would follow Nancy Pelosi into a foxhole? who would fall on a grenade to save Elizabeth Warren? who would be pushed to a microphone by Chuck Schumer?).

With the dismantling of Obama’s signature initiatives, what does the Democratic Party stand for, other than to pine for Obamaism? Numerous Republicans plausibly champion the GOP position on any issue that matters; there are dozens of party leaders on immigration, energy, foreign affairs, national defense, sane budgeting, tax reform, education reform, who are not named Trump. Other than Warren’s identification with big bank harassment, the Democrats have no counterparts. Après moi, le vacuum.

The other curious thing about Obama’s remaining on the scene is that he has no visible friends on it, despite his dominance of his party. He has many toadies. He has his entourage. He even has many sincere admirers. But friends? Name three. Name one.

And in that characteristic, he is very much like the Democratic Antichrist, Richard Nixon. The quintessential Nixon photograph is of him walking on the beach in San Clemente, in a full suit and tie and wingtip shoes, alone except for his dog. Nixon’s post-presidential isolation derived mainly from the political disgrace that led to his resignation; no doubt Obama will have acolytes inviting him to events and interviewing him and basking in his presence. But who will come just to have a drink and talk about the old days or the White Sox? Every visit will be business, every caller seeking something rather than bringing something.

Obama is like Nixon in other ways as well, probably in more ways than the Democrats would ever admit. Both Nixon and Obama were self-made men. Nixon started as an obscure Congressman, Obama was an obscure community organizer (whatever THAT is). Both thrust themselves into the spotlight and into power, and ironically both by allegedly playing dirty (Nixon dubbed “Tricky Dick” by “the Pink Lady,” Helen Gahagan Douglas; Obama escaping criticism altogether despite having his state senate opponents disqualified and having his Republican opponent Jack Ryan’s divorce records mysteriously unsealed in his US Senate race).

Both relied far more on their ability to operate the levers of power than their ability to persuade others to follow them. Both were heavily criticized during their first terms, yet easily won re-election. Both depended far more on the personal loyalty of their staff, less on their experience or counsel. Both reveled in the trappings of the office. Both were very expensive to send on vacation, though to be fair Nixon barely knew the meaning of the word.

Ultimately Obama suffers from the Nixon comparison, for the reasons he will see at close range. Nixon was sought out post-retirement for his counsel; Obama will be asked for his presence, not his wisdom. Nixon’s electoral success was a general one, regionally and culturally, and very much set the scene for the Age of Reagan; Obama’s politics of division manifestly fail for anyone not named Obama. Nixon´s policies, domestic (e.g., creation of OSHA and the EPA, ending gold-backing of Dollars, the Endangered Species Act) and foreign (e.g., the SALT treaty, rapprochement with China, backing Israel) are still with us forty years later. Obama´s will be gone forty weeks later.

And that is where the Agonist tragedy lies. Obama is staying in Washington for two reasons: because he doesn’t truly have friends elsewhere, or any other place he considers home; and because if he doesn’t stay in DC he descends into obscurity. The latter is a struggle he is likely to lose anyway; if ever there were a personality suited to dominate the stage and put his predecessor in the shade, it is Trump.

But Obama will continue the struggle. He will help raise funds, in a social environment where funding matters less. He has no appointment power, so he will have few toadies. Any emerging Democratic leader will be wary of him, as he will only draw attention to himself. He still considers himself the smartest man in any room, despite abundant proof to the contrary. He will never improve in his ability to persuade people to his viewpoint, because he lacks introspection; a man who suffers as many failures as he has in eight years, yet still can’t think of any serious errors he has made, is by definition not learning from his mistakes. And absent holding the levers of power himself, persuasion is the only tool Obama has.

So Obama will soldier on, speaking to any reporter or power player who seeks (or will accept) an audience, pressing his increasingly chimerical policies in a political and legal landscape increasingly tilted against them, sucking the air and vitality away from any of his successors who actually have a chance of implementing them. Due to his own ego, Obama’s struggles will ultimately be self-defeating.

Hillary Clinton and The New Nixonians

June 6, 2016

Hillary Clinton and The New Nixonians, Jonathan Turley’s Blog, Jonathan Turley, June 6, 2016



Hillary 1

Below is my column in USA Today on the striking similarities between Richard Nixon and Hillary Clinton, particularly with regard to the staffers surrounding them. Both tended to blame others about being, to paraphrase Nixon, “kicked around.” However, there are deeper and rather disturbing patterns emerging that are shared by the two leaders in my view.

It has taken almost 50 years, but the Democrats have finally found their inner Nixon. Make no mistake about it: Hillary Clinton is the most Nixonian figure in the post-Watergate period. Indeed, Democrats appear to have reached the type of moral compromise that Nixon waited, unsuccessfully, for Republicans to accept: Some 71% of Democrats want Clinton to run even if indicted.

While Obama could be criticized for embracing Nixon’s imperial presidency model, his personality could not be more different from his predecessor. Clinton however is the whole Nixonian package. On a policy level, her predilection for using executive and military power is even coupled with praise for (and from) Nixon’s secretary of State, Henry Kissinger. However, it is on a personality level that the comparison is so striking and so unnerving. Clinton, like Nixon, is known to be both secretive and evasive. She seems to have a compulsive resistance to simply acknowledging conflicting facts or changes in position. She only makes admissions against interest when there is no alternative to acknowledging the truth in a controversy.

Clinton’s history of changing positions and spinning facts is now legendary. Indeed, a video entitled “Hillary Clinton lying for 13 minutes straight” has become an Internet sensation with millions of viewers. Polls show Clinton with record lows for her perceived honesty and trustworthiness. (In fairness, Trump fares little better). Clinton seems entirely comfortable denying facially true facts. For example, she spent much of a year assuring the public that she was fully cooperating with investigators into her use of an unsecure server for her communications as secretary of State. Indeed, she used her claimed cooperation as the reason that she would not answer more questions. When the State Department Inspector General issued its highly critical report on the scandal, many were shocked to learn that Clinton not only refused to speak at all with investigators but so did her top aides. Where Clinton repeatedly said that her use was allowed by the State Department, the report said that the rule was clearly violated, she never received approval for such a security breach and that a personal server would never have been accepted.

Of course, politicians are not known for their allegiance to the truth, and Clinton may be a standout in that group, but she is hardly unique among her peers. However, that tendency is often checked by a staff that forces politicians to recognize reality and even the truth of controversy.

The problem is that Clinton has surrounded herself with aides who have demonstrated an unflagging loyalty and veneration. Take Huma Abedin, perhaps her most influential aide. Abedin described her first meeting on the “Call Your Girlfriend” podcast: “She walked by and she shook my hand and our eyes connected, and I just remember having this moment where I thought; ‘Wow, this is amazing. And … it just inspired me. You know, I still remember the look on her face. And it’s funny, and she would probably be so annoyed that I say this, but I remember thinking; ‘Oh my God, she’s so beautiful and she’s so little!’”

Adebin’s breathless account is similar to communications of other aides who fawn in emails to Clinton over her speeches, dress and demeanor. In the released emails, former National Security Council adviser Liz Sherwood-Randall asked that an aide pass along her praise of Clinton’s performance at a hearing:

“If you get a chance — please tell HRC that she was a ROCK STAR yesterday. Everything about her ‘performance’ was what makes her unique, beloved, and destined for even more greatness. She sets a standard that lesser mortals can only dream of emulating.”

(In 2014, Sherwood-Randall was made the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Energy.) Emails from other close aides like Lanny Davis and Sidney Blumenthal show the same level of constant stroking and exaltation.

It is certainly true that Washington’s powerful have always attracted a circle of sycophants. Indeed, the most powerful figures often seem to need continual stroking from underlings and there can be a race to the bottom as aides outdo each other in their adoring rhetoric.

What is so concerning is that Clinton seems to invite such expressions of absolute loyalty and reverence. The question is whether there is a John Dean willing to walk into her office and tell her of a cancer growing within the White House. After years of scandals and investigations, Clinton has distilled a team down to the truest believers who have little difficulty repeating truth-defying spins or refusing to cooperate with investigators.

Indeed, recently, top Clinton aides took the notable step of agreeing to be represented by the same lawyers in both the criminal and civil investigations into the email scandal. That is a move that can greatly assure a more uniform account in the testimony of Clinton aides. It is also a move that rejects potential conflicts between aides in both their recollections and interests. In the most recent depositions, that joint counsel instructed key aide Cheryl Mills to simply refuse to answer most of the questions about the reasons and arrangements made for the use of a personal server at the State Department. So far Clinton’s top aides have remained a uniform front.

It is hard not to think of Nixon aides like John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman in the “palace guard” surrounding Nixon. They should be a cautionary tale for all of these aides. Ehrlichman would later look back and marvel at the loss of his own sense of self and independence: “I, in effect, abdicated my moral judgments and turned them over to somebody else.”

My greatest concern is not that a President Clinton will continue a pattern of false statements but that her aides will gradually forget the difference between what is true and what is not.