Climbing up the hill in 80-degree heat and impressive humidity today, I couldn’t help but think how today felt like this time 49 years ago.
Most of you won’t remember it, but that was a time when the air was electric with news about Richard Nixon, and doubt whether he would be president of the United States much longer.
For two years, Democrats had been hammering the word: Watergate. What had begun as a strange burglary at a hotel-apartment-business complex had, through the power of Democrat majorities in both houses of Congress, been utterly investigated. National Public Radio, at the time the broadcast wing of the Democrat Party, covered the hearings of a joint special committee. (NPR no longer fulfills that role. The Democrats are too conservative for today’s NPR.)
There were still a few statesmen at the time, as there were still reporters. The New York Times was still a reputable newspaper.
(Did you see the recent review in The Times? It’s “The Best Vibrators,” and lest you make a mistake as to what kind of vibrator, here’s the opening paragraph: “Shopping for sex toys can be intimidating, especially for people who have never bought one before. After 150 cumulative hours of research and testing—-interviewing sex researchers, crowdsourcing opinions from enthusiasts, and analyzing data from 11 volunteers who have tried more than 30 different models since 2014—-we’ve concluded that the cordless Magic Wand Rechargeable is the best vibrator for clitoral stimulation.” Some “paper of record.”)
Every day, 49 years ago, something new and damning was revealed. Richard Nixon made speeches in which he said, “I am not a crook,” which was a hard sell because he looked and sounded exactly like a crook. He had seemed shady from the beginning, going back to the “Checkers speech” in 1952, when discovery of a political slush fund with Nixon as beneficiary threatened to get him bumped from the vice presidential nomination. I know and respect people who worship Nixon, and I pray for their full recovery.
“Watergate” was the overall name given to a series of entirely unnecessary scandals and their cover up. The Democrats tried and failed to gain traction by mentioning it every other word in their 1972 presidential campaign. I covered an appearance by Sargent Shriver, who hoped to be promoted to vice president, in the hot summer of 1972. The press passes were white slips of paper with one word printed on them. The word was “Watergate.” (Shriver was the nominee because the candidate chosen at the Democratic National Convention, Sen. Thomas F. Eagleton of Missouri, got bumped from the ticket after it was learned he’d gotten his brain fried by electroshock treatments. Perhaps if he had delivered a Checkers-style speech on the wonders of electricity he would have survived; as it was, the presidential nominee, George McGovern, bumped him from the ticket shortly after announcing that he was “1000 percent” behind Eagleton.
Two years later, after a drip-drip-drip of disclosures, Nixon was on the verge of resigning. He was about to be impeached — this may surprise you but impeachment was once a big deal — and in early August a group of Republicans, led by Barry Goldwater (one of the surviving statesmen), went to the White House and told Nixon that he would be impeached and convicted. His only choice was to resign, and on August 8 he announced that he would in fact resign the following day. Many of his closest aides would do prison time for their involvement in the affair.
The tremendous stupidity of it all was that there was no need for it. The perennially paranoid Nixon won re-election in 1972. The hapless McGovern carried, if memory serves, one state, Massachusetts. If the Nixon campaign had done nothing crooked he still would have won by just as much and he would have finished his term. There would have been no President Gerald Ford. Ford had been appointed vice president when (and it was not heavily covered at the time) Vice President Spiro T. “Ted” Agnew resigned to avoid imprisonment for corruption, specifically tax evasion — Agnew was Nixon’s vice president, not his son — and the uncontroversial and generally boring Ford was appointed to fill the position.
(When Nixon finally did resign it had already been expected for a few days. At my Missouri newspaper, The Columbia Daily Tribune, a broadsheet early afternoon paper, each morning that week came all kinds of bulletins that Nixon was just about to resign, so each morning a front page was prepared to drop in for use if it happened. The first day, Monday, it was a picture and two enormous words: “Nixon Resigns.” Tuesday, the two words fit on one line, with a smaller picture and room for subheads. By Wednesday it was shrunken further, now with room for the story, too. Thursday’s dummy featured a further-diminished headline and room for other stories. He announced his resignation Thursday night and Friday’s paper gave it huge but not apocalyptic coverage. “If he’d waited until Saturday, he would have been lucky to make the front page at all,” laughed a fellow reporter.)
So now it was President Ford, and we’re left to wonder what course the country would have taken had Ted Agnew paid his taxes.
It was a time crackling with tension. Electric, poor Tom Eagleton notwithstanding. Gerald Ford’s presidency wasn’t especially noteworthy. (Though he was the first president to champion a harmful vaccine. “Swine flu” killed fewer people than swine flu vaccine did. You can look it up.)
The summer of 1974 felt a lot like today. Every day or two there are new disclosures that strongly suggest Joe “Bugout” Biden isn’t just a senile old ward heeler but also at the head of an elaborate criminal enterprise. Cracks are appearing. The big fix, in which first junkie Hunter Biden was to plead guilty to jaywalking to settle years of tax evasion, firearms felonies, and Lord only knows what other potential charges, collapsed. The deal having failed to survive judicial scrutiny, the former laptop-owner entered “not guilty” pleas, and now there might be a trial. It’s increasingly evident that Bugout Joe himself was eyeballs-deep in the family’s international shakedown operation. (Hey, it worked for the Clintons.) It is surely being researched by White House lawyers whether an insanity defense is available at an impeachment trial.
Democrat politicians are probably scrambling to check Kamala Harris’s tax records, looking for a way to be rid of her. If she were to become president, that annoying television bedding vendor could run and beat her next year.
A huge scandal is unfolding. The mainstream media, in their current self-assigned jobs of Biden nursing home attendants, are simply not covering it. What they are really doing, though, is further reducing their already declining relevance. When we look back 49 years from now, we will wonder how they ever had any influence to begin with.
This is going to be a bumpy coming year.
The bumps will be of a high frequency over at The New York Times, where “All the News That’s Fit to Print” now does not include a corrupt president but does include the latest and greatest in devices for sexual stimulation.