Is Another Watergate Beckoning?

by William Hare

The widely discussed decision of George W. Bush last week to hire private counsel James E. Sharp prompts one to wonder if another Watergate is beckoning, and much sooner than later. As John Dean mentioned in his column at FindLaw.com, the idea of Bush taking this step as a purely precautionary measure is highly unlikely. It appears far more plausible that the old maxim of “where there’s smoke there’s fire” instead applies.

Dean, who was in the besieged building also known as the White House when it began rapidly disintegrating under President Richard M. Nixon following the Watergate burglary, also revealed the significance behind the decision to hire a private attorney. The zealous Kenneth Starr during his tenure pursuing Bill and Hillary Clinton successfully challenged in the federal courts the attorney-client privilege pertaining to government lawyers. This shredding of this area of the attorney-client privilege would render it mandatory for Bush to seek protection from private counsel, where Sharp would not be bound by the same constraints.

In the administration of George W. Bush, to paraphrase Shakespeare, “the campaign is the thing.” With politics assuming the highest of all priorities and Karl Rove operating in close concert with Bush, who does perhaps his only serious reading in analyzing poll data, it is anything but a tenuous stretch to conclude that the outing of CIA operative Valerie Plame was discussed. An action of such potentially serious consequences was probably discussed with Bush at one juncture or another, given the closeness of the Bush-Rove relationship. Rove as political spinmeister operates at the top of the pecking order. Joseph Wilson’s assertion that the shameful, not to mention illegal, outing of his wife began with a “workup” done on him at the behest of grand strategist Rove contains a solid ring of plausibility.

Is Bush Unraveling?

Dean’s observations correlated with disturbing reports in Capitol Hill Blue prompt observers to wonder if a Nixon-style Watergate implosion is already commencing. It has been reported by witnesses testifying to the federal grand jury about the Plame leak that Bush was aware of the decision to leak Valerie Plame’s name in the media. This appears in concert with another report that Bush’s erratic behavior is causing consternation among White House aides. They note his propensity to initially quote scriptural passages and speak with reverent familiarity about God, then engage in paranoiac eruptions in which he curses his enemies, indicating that they are out to get him. This pattern contains an eerie kinship to Nixon unraveling in a post-Watergate informational hailstorm. It will be recalled that Nixon had his religious side as well, as evidenced by his Oval Office session with Henry Kissinger, in which he beseeched his startled secretary of state to get on his knees with him to pray. The scene, hilariously enacted on Saturday Night Live with Dan Ackroyd as Nixon and the late John Belushi portraying Henry Kissinger, is probably the most famous comedy sketch in television history.

Another Nixon Watergate similarity appears to be in play, that of one incident resulting in an implosion. When Watergate began to be investigated in the context of White House criminal involvement a sea of activities came to light as Nixon’s administration toppled like a house of cards. Bush needs to fear implosion from other directions such as Cheney’s secret meetings with oil executives, the Iraqi conman Chalabi and his relations with Bush insiders, not to mention how we went to war in Iraq through false claims about weapons of mass destruction that never materialized. Cheney again figures in events through his visits to the CIA to lean hard on analysts to support the hawkish attack mode he embraced.

Key Sign of Bush Implosion

The key sign to look for in determining just how much difficulty the Bush-Cheney-Rove White House perceives itself to be in is a parallel to Nixon’s Watergate travails, the aggressive pursuit of the media as operating against the interest of the American people. This strategy has a twofold purpose: 1) Seeking to convince Americans that they are reading information put out by jaundiced propagandists. A Watergate parallel was White House Press Secretary Ron Zeigler blasting the Washington Post, where information breaking reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein worked, by stating that their boss, Managing Editor Ben Bradlee, was hostile to Richard Nixon’s politics; 2) An intimidation factor. Reporters who cross the line and pursue developing stories about Bush White House implosion will be attacked as partisans. Also, they would realize the clear and present possibility of having access routes to White House information closed. The Bush White House has explored this route with gusto even without the fears of a Watergate style implosion, as evidenced by Bush’s abandonment of presidential press conference tradition by not only failing to allow its senior member, Helen Thomas, to ask the first question, but also banishing her to the back of the room.

Rallying Around The Flag

Another point to be observed if the Bush White House perceives itself in increasingly deep difficulty is resorting to a favored right wing Republican strategy of seeking to rally the citizenry around the flag. In Nixon’s case it was argued that opportunists seeking to pursue a radical agenda were attempting to highjack the “people’s business” and destroy a mandate of the electorate’s making.

Since Bush lost the popular vote to Al Gore in 2000 while Nixon generated better than 60 percent of those who voted in 1972, when he was reelected, the Cheney-Rove strategy will shift to another venue. Rather than discussing an electoral mandate the sharp focus will be on how partisan political attack dogs from the left are jeopardizing America while it is at war against terrorism throughout the globe, and while they are seeking to achieve democracy in Iraq.

The Bush political strategy since 9-11 has been 9-11, preferably in the largest doses possible. Those who seek to hold the Bush regime accountable for its conduct will be attacked as operating against the national interest. Ann Coulter and the rightist minions will proclaim that treason is in the air. Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly will indignantly demand that such attacks cease and that the public interest be served.

Should the aforementioned events conjoin, posed not as a strategy but represented as spontaneous declarations from incensed patriotic Americans, the Nixon analogy will be complete. The major battle will have commenced, that of seeking to preserve the Constitution and U.S. democracy. Those were the stakes thirty-one years ago as Watergate’s impact abounded and Nixonians adopted a bunker mentality. Since Dick Cheney prefers to govern from a bunker, he will be on home ground.


Informant: littlebrit1961


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Juni 2004

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