Saturday, June 9, 2012

How Low Did Nixon Go?

Very low. There is a 40th anniversary of the break-in retrospective in the Post, full of details about Nixon's massive dirty tricks operation. The whole thing makes for bizarre reading. One snippet:
The Senate investigation provided more detail about the effectiveness of the covert efforts against Muskie, who in 1971 and early 1972 was considered by the White House to be the Democrat most capable of beating Nixon. The president’s campaign paid Muskie’s chauffeur, a campaign volunteer named Elmer Wyatt, $1,000 a month to photograph internal memos, position papers, schedules and strategy documents, and deliver copies to Mitchell and Nixon’s campaign staff.

Other sabotage directed at Muskie included bogus news releases and allegations of sexual improprieties against other Democratic candidates — produced on counterfeit Muskie stationery. A favored dirty trick that caused havoc at campaign stops involved sweeping up the shoes that Muskie aides left in hotel hallways to be polished, and then depositing them in a dumpster.
That last bit sums up the whole operation for me: part sinister government coup, part fraternity stunt, and with very little impact on the course of U.S. politics. What a loon Nixon was, captured by fantasies that secret information gathered from wiretaps and break-ins would give him power over his enemies. Instead, his illegal stunts gave his enemies a way to bring him down.

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