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Nixon and Bush: Presidential Parallels?


Sacramento Bee (California)
By Pete McCloskey

The eerie parallels between the Richard Nixon and George W. Bush administrations continue.

Once again the famous words of Lord Acton in 1887 come to mind: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Both Nixon in 1972 and Bush in 2004 won re-election to a second term. Both had impressive agendas for domestic reform, but both were at war - Nixon in Vietnam, Bush in Iraq. Both faced what they felt was disloyal, if not treasonous, conduct by former federal employees. Marine veteran Daniel Ellsberg had given the then top secret Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, and the Times risked prosecution for publishing excerpts, among which was the damning statement by Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton that 70 percent of the reason for fighting the war was to save American face. The Nixon White House was desperate to discredit Ellsberg to preserve dwindling public support for the war - to allow a "decent interval" to elapse before South Vietnam fell to the North, in Henry Kissinger's words.

Nixon's chief domestic adviser, John Ehrlichman, ordered the burglary of Ellsberg's California psychiatrist's office to obtain records that he thought might show Ellsberg to be mentally unstable.

One of President Bush's stated reasons for going to war with Iraq was that Iraq had sought to purchase bomb-making materials from Niger. In 2003 respected former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson said it wasn't so. Then someone high on the White House staff, equally desperate to protect the president's election, sought to discredit Ambassador Wilson by suggesting to the press that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent who had suggested that her husband be sent to Niger.

Both in 1971 and 2003, the actions of these zealous presidential aides had dire results.

Both brought on Justice Department investigations. Ultimately, not only Ehrlichman and White House Chief of Staff Robert Haldeman, but two attorneys general, John Mitchell and Richard Kleindienst, lied to a grand jury and/or congressional committees, and all four were indicted. The truth came out, not by the Justice Department, but by two courageous reporters, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, and vigorous investigations by Sen. Sam Ervin's committee and the House Judiciary Committee. Less than two years after his smashing re-election, Nixon was forced to resign in disgrace.

Now, in 2005 as in the Nixon days, there again appears to be White House obfuscation. In retrospect, it is recognized that if Nixon had come clean at the outset rather than directing stonewalling by his staff, his administration would certainly have survived, and perhaps left a notable record of both foreign and domestic achievement.

George W. Bush might be well-advised to do what Nixon did not. He and his attorney general should forthwith order a full disclosure of who went to the press about Ambassador Wilson's wife, when and how. Bush should obtain a new and untainted press secretary and get on with the daunting tasks facing the nation.

John Ehrlichman, the man most directly responsible for Nixon's downfall, was no wartime slacker. He had flown 50 missions as a lead bombardier over Europe in a unit that suffered extremely high losses both in planes and aviators. He had made an enviable record as a lawyer, was a fine father and husband and had entered public service for reasons of patriotism, not power or financial gain. We were close friends in law school and, save for his last two years in the White House, remained so until his death.

I visited him at the federal penitentiary in Safford, Ariz., one Thanksgiving Day and asked what had caused him, an honorable lawyer, to lie for his president. He looked for a long time across the desert at the distant mountains where Cochise and Geronimo once ranged, and finally quietly replied: "It took us three-and-a-half years to be corrupted by the power. ..."

Can it be that that awesome power has once again corrupted the aides and spokesmen for another Republican president?

Whatever the truth may be, it will ultimately come out. The parallels of the Nixon and Bush White House with respect to Lord Acton's words grow ever eerier. Let's hope the president will do the right thing this time.

Former U.S. Rep. Pete McCloskey attended Stanford Law School with John Ehrlichman in the late l940s and early 1950s, one year ahead of Justice Sandra Day O'Connor and Chief Justice William Rehnquist. A Woodside Republican, he was elected to Congress in 1967 and lost to President Nixon after challenging him in the 1972 New Hampshire primary. On June 6, 1973, McCloskey made the first floor speech suggesting consideration of the impeachment of President Nixon for obstruction of justice. McCloskey lives in Rumsey, California.

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It is quite amazing how these parallels jump right out at you especially is you werein your early to mid 20's during the Nixon administration.

Pete McCloskey has made the comparisons between the 2 Republican administrations a generation apart with stunning simplicity and accuracy. His quote of John Erlichman about it taking 3 and a half years to be corrupted by the power.

It is the Republicans' lust for greed, greed for wealth, greed for power, greed to suppress the middle class and below and basically put these less fortunate in their proper place in the economic pecking order.

All else must be crushed in favor of the lust for power to control and garner greater wealth no matter who is sacrificed in the wake.

This lust must be sent packing to Hell! If it is not, then it is Hell we will be living in instead of America.

Richard, DITTO to everything you said and the article itself!

The difference between the actions of the media in the era of Watergate and now is that in the 1970s the media was more than enthusiastic to bring Nixon down. However, today the czars of the media are strongly supportive of US miltary occupation of Mideast countries; and therfore, will not investigate or report the illegal actions of Bush and his Neocons lest it undermine the publics support for continued military actions throughout the Mideast. The media czars would like nothing better than having an Iraqi puppet government take over its own security, so that US soldiers now in Iraq can be ordered by Bush/Cheney/Rumsfeld into Iran or Syria, as advised by Sharon.

Pete McCloskey was a fine and great congressman from California. One of my heroes in those days. I remember how he, as a Republican acted in the same kind of climate we have seen developing since 2001 in Washington and the US.

I am afraid that if Nixon had had a 9/11 type event on his watch, he probably would have survived. There is another hugh difference, the media. And not just the Washington Post and its leadership in those days.. Also a larger segment of the population showed interest in the case.
Now we are dealing with a much more serious event, a President going to war in the hope to enter history as a WAR President. Nixon never reached that level! Another difference where are Senators Howard Baker and Barry Goldwater?

I guess one big difference I see is that the Media was doing it's
job during the 70s. Young people were demanding "Truth."
Nixon used to constantly bitch about the "Jewish Controlled Press."

During the first Gulf War, I saw Saddam Hussein play the "Poke
Israel in the eye and make them counter-attack. Then all of the Muslim states will come to my aid" card. Remember all the rocket attacks on Israel and the speculation on what would happen if Israel responded?

Is it beyond the realm of objective argument to entertain the possiblility that the Media has made a "deal with the devil"
by marketing this war for the NEOCONs to preserve the State
of Israel?

There is just too much about Sept 11 and July 7 that have Mossad
written all over it, yet any questioning of this is met with
the "anti-Semitism" card.

Please don't attack me . .. I am just positing an hypothesis.
Israel is a nation trying to survive like any other nation.
Religion has nothing to do with my argument beyond a set of
"US" Game Rules to define a subset of humanity.

peace.

WELL, I "WAS" GOING TO, VERY AGGRESSIVELY" ATTACK YOU, BUT, WELL OK. I WON'T. **HUMPHREY**

Well, thank you, but why can't you just answer with an objective,
"well, that hypothesis is flawed because of these verifiable facts?"

Why does mention of Israel get an "emotional" response. There are
some very wise people on this list that are trying to get to the bottom of this mess. I am appealing to that knowledge base for
help with an hypothesis. Meanwhile, lots of people are being killed, maimed, terrorized, tortured, and deprived. That really
makes me angry. Hey, I'm funny that way.

I am a US citizen that has seen many a strange thing in this country and the world since the Kennedy assassinations which is when I became politically aware of my world.(Yes, I am one of those whackos that does not believe Oswald killed John F. Kennedy)

My older brother was a radio news man during the Vietnam/Watergate years and I used to hang out with the press a lot. I just feel that there are too many loose ends about this entire scenario that are NOT being followed up on by the media today that the press of that day would have been all over DEMANDING answers and DEMANDING that the public DEMAND answers.

Can this media silence be explained away just by Corporate Media
Control by the US & UK NEO CONS, -OR- is there another player
in the mix? If the latter, is Israel that other player and what
roll are they playing?

Point <-> Counter-Point (For all you Saturday Night Live fans,
this is when Dan Akroid would say to me, "Jane, you ignorant slut.")

http://www.aipac.org/

PNAC is America's puppetmaster

AIPAC is PNAC's puppetmaster...one hand washes the other.

Zionism is a major player in this illegal war that got our kids dying in the MidEast

http://www.jewsagainstzionism.com/

Anti-zionist Jews are pro-people.

I think that Mr. McCluskey is right in his belief that the truth will ultimately come out, and I think that when the fog finally clears and the history is written on this business, Mr. Conyers and all those Downing Street people who met in that basement room will turn out to be the real heroes, and the Bush/Blair crowd will take their place alongside all the other power-corrupted monsters of the past. Meanwhile, we (on this, and other like-minded links) can keep on doing what we can, and wait for events to unfold. They will get what's comming to them--this is just too ugly to stand.

Congress is supposed to exercise its oversight of the executive branch. We haven't seen much of that in this administration. Why has the current administration been allowed to run roughshod over America?

A Republican House, Senate, and a compliant press.

Because the republican party holds a majority of seats in both houses! In order to acquire the necessary vindication it will require the combined effort of all concerned citizen's who are represented in congress by a republican member (especially) to presure that representive to give support to the call for a resolution of inquirey, soon to be introduced by the Democratic minority, in the U S CONGRESS. If you truly want accountibillity for the miscouduct committed by this presidential administration, contact your representitive and voice your desire for his or her support for this resolution of inquirey. **HUMPHREY**

I've written my two senators numerous times and have yet to get a reply. McCain and Kyl are absolutely mute on the subject. Grijalva, praise God is on our side.

Most times I feel like I'm spitting in the wind.

YEAH, I KNOW THE FEELLING. MY TWO SENATORS ARE DURBIN AND OBAMA.
DURBIN WAS SHOT DOWN AND IS COWERING IN A HOLE SOMEWHERE. HE NEVER ONCE RESPONDED TO MY EMAILS, EVEN TO THE ONE'S WHERE I ASK'ED IF THERE WAS ANYTHING, "ANYTHING", I AND OTHER'S COULD DO TO PHYSICALLY ASSIST HIM. WE WERE READY TO DO ANYTHING! OH WELL.
OBAMA SENT A RESPONSE HE MUST HAVE CONCOCTED IN ANTICIPATION OF BEING ASKED THE LEADING QUESTION'S REGARDING THE DSM AND THE RELATED IMPLICATION'S OF CORUPTION IN THIS ADMINISTRATION. I'VE SEEN THE EXACT SAME RESPONSE SOMEONE ELSE RECEIVED FROM OBAMA POSTED IN AFTERDSM.ORG. BARAK, DICK, CAN YOU HEAR ME? PICK YOUR SELVE'S UP BY THE COATTAILS AND GET UP AND DO WHATS RIGHT. IF NOT, I WILL DO WHAT EVER IS POSSIBLE TO ADVISE AS MANY AS IS POSSIBLE OF YOUR APATHY IN THIS MATTER, COME THE NEXT ELECTION. DON'T BE PART OF THE PROBLEM, BE PART OF THE SOLUTION. THE CHOICE IS YOURS. DO WHAT IS RIGHT. **HUMPHREY**

My previous post was rhetorical, and aimed, not only at congress, but at the people who elected their representatives who aided in getting us into this mess. Any professional knows that everyone makes mistakes. A GOOD professional knows that if you did, you own up and FIX it. We've seen little of that. And I have written several times to my representatives AND to the President, with (you guessed it) no response.

There are even more parallels between Richard M. Nixon and George W. Bush. Not only were both of them at war, but they both publically lied about the wars they were fighting. Richard Nixon publically campaigned against the Vietnam War, set a policy of Vietnamization, and even ended up ending the draft. But in private, he launched bombing campaigns in Cambodia and Laos as part of the war effort, because of supposed support for the Viet Cong in those countries. (Sound familiar?)

President Bush vowed to get the job done in the War on Terror and punish those responsible for 9/11, while privately was already planning his preemptive attack on Iraq, using the rationales of WMDs, Iraq's supposed support of al-Qaida, and of Iraq's "involvement" in the 9/11 attacks. Saddam didn't support al-Qaida, in fact before the war Usama bin Laden called Saddam an "infidel" for complying with demands from the UN Security Council.

Also look back to the massive anti-war, anti-Nixon rallies that took place during his administration, and look at the massive anti-war, anti-Bush rallies of today. I dare any conservative jingo to tell me today is nothing like the Vietnam era!

Finally we come to the Downing Street Minutes, text of a secret meeting of the British government, leaked by Britain's very own Deep Throat, that proves George Bush misled us to war, and these documents can be compared to the audiotapes that proved Nixon was behind the Watergate break-in during his reelection campaign. And remember what happened to Nixon, "I am not a crook," impeachment, and resignation. George Bush already tried to defend himself by saying we are at war in Iraq because we were attacked on 9/11. Basically, a "I am not a misleader" speech. What comes next? If history really does repeat itself, impeachment is only a matter of time.

Of course conservative jingos would agree that Bush is a lot like Nixon, but they would most likely say that they are strong leaders and both did excellent jobs. Yeah, excellent jobs as criminals and traitors!

I don't think that it's simply a result of a GOP majority and Dems sitting by doing nothing. First, to look back at Vietnam, it was NOT a Republican administration that got us involved. It was the Kennedy and Johnson administrations that did that. Of course, Nixon has his fare share of blame. Not only did he keep us involved, but after implying that he wanted to end the war, he expanded U.S. efforts by invading Cambodia and launching the Linebacker raids against North Vietnam. To bring it back to the contemporary situation, The Dems put up a...PRO WAR candidate. Kerry never stated that he would end the war. His big campaigning point, and indeed the entire platform of teh "liberal" party is that Kerry would have waged it better.

We must also look at the Clinton administration and our involvement in Iraq during the '90's. We dropped tons of bombs on Iraq. Indeed, one could argue that this is simply the fruition of a 15 year old war, given the level of U.S. involvement in that country since Desert Storm. So it is untrue that the Democrats would somehow save us from this quagmire. I think we have to STOP looking to Washington to end this. I beleive that the only way for us to get out this situation is for Americans and Britons to stand up and tell all sides that this is unacceptable. We did not pull out of Vietnam because of lobbying. We got out because of a strong resistance waged by the Vietnamese, a collapsing military, and a strong anti-war movement in the U.S. In other words, Congress won't do it because many of them on both sides of the aisle are making way too much money from this, and/or want to be able to capitalize on this in the near future.

We continue to live in a PROFIT induced MADNESS, the only part that the NEO-CON'S, love, is the CONTROL and MONEY they make from WARS. AND as long as the FOOLS point there fingers and hate at little people, the BIG WIGS get what they want.

POOR PEOPLE ALWAYS FIGHT AND PAY.

Actually, the first "advisors" were sent to Vietnam in the late 1950's under the Eisenhower Administration. To his credit, he did warn us to beware of the Military Industrial Complex on the way out. President Kennedy, after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, was begining to heed Ike's warning and was going to announce a substancial, if not full, withdrawl from Vietnam. He never got the chance. We all know what happend to him. It was not until the conservative hawks got control with the swearing in of Johnson and the Gulf of Tonkin incident (aka set up) in 1964 that we went full blown in to that disaster known as the Vietnam War. This was at a time before the liberal wing of the Democratic Party revolted in 1968 and the hard core conservative Democrats fled in droves to the Republican party.

However, I do agree with most of the rest of your assesment. If the Democrats had nominated Howar Dean there might have been a true difference between the candidates. Unfortunately the Dems were afraid(with some justification) that the American public could not handle the truth. A strong anti-war movement would be most helpful at this time, but I fear that a collapse of our military, credible threat of a draft, or both will have to happen before a strong anti-war movement can form with support from the broad middle of the political spectrum.

in 1962. I could have easily been 'collateral damage' if the ultra-right wing nut Operation Northwoods reached fruition. Kennedy stopped it.
http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/news/20010430/doc1.pdf#search='Operation%20Northwoods'

Then LBJ did his own version of it with Gulf of Tonkin.

Gotta keep your eye on the Neocon ball... it hops around parties. And we HAVE to start talking about what we all are thinking :

9/11 + PNAC = new Pearl Harbor

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