Friday, June 03, 2005

Dejavugate - the Role of W. Mark Felt

I should first admit that I worked in the Nixon Administration - twice. But I should also comment that after the first experience I went on to work for the guy who cast the deciding vote against one of the worst Supreme Court nominees ever (up to then - G. Harold - Justice Mediocre - Carswell). ( I will write about that experience some time in the future.)

The revelation of who Deep Throat was this week has brought back a lot of thoughts or is it acid reflux? Who is the hero here?

Some suggest that the former deputy director of the FBI W. Mark Felt, who served as Woodward and Bernstein's source, is a hero. I think that is silly. He was a sworn officer of the law - he ignored his responsibilities and oath to respond to a perceived slight when he did not get the top job. He was disgruntled that Mr. Gray had been named to replace Jedgar. (The contraction of J. Edgar - in my first year in DC I had an interesting interchange with Jedgar - again later on that one.) I find no valor in his conduct. He was convicted of a series of illegal acts in other areas and was pardoned by RWR. So no, I do not find him a hero.

Some have suggested that the two reporters and their editor are the heroes. They spun a pretty good yarn about a second rate burgalry and its associated crimes - some of which were pretty serious. It is pretty clear that the editor and possibly the two reporters were excited about their role in bringing down a president. Prior to Watergate the Post was a second rate paper. It still is - consistent bias in its news pages, too much about social goings on, blah, blah, blah. What the process did spawn was a generation of reporters who are in the business of social change not reporting. There really is not a snake under every rock but some reporters still look for the next "gate."

Some have suggested that the convicted in this process, especially Liddy, were the heroes. Liddy and some of his crew were certifiable at the time of their work upon which they were convicted. While I think he has done a great job since then is in his prison ministries, I am not sure I would count him as a hero - especially in the role during the events. Here, even if his conduct during the scandal was less than admirable, since then it has been stellar.

What this has done for me is to remind me of the one person I really admired during the process - he was a guy who was slightly older than me - who broke the law, admitted it, served his time, went back and restablished a life of merit. At a party among friends soon after he was released from prison, my wife (who had not know him) asked him about his situation - and he came back with a simple statement - "I made a mistake, was seduced by the trappings of power, but it was still my responsibility" - For my money one of the heroes of this was Seattle attorney Egil "Bud" Krogh.

As for the scandal - I am not sure it was as legitimate a crisis as those on the left have portrayed it. I am pretty sure we have gotten both good and bad from the time we went through to get to all of the people that ultimately got removed. In one strange sense, the dems should be the ones who dislike Felt's role. The McGovern rules, which caused immediate and long term problems for moderate democrats, were a partial result of Watergate. We got arguably one of the worst presidents in the history of the republic (Carter) as a result of Watergate - his performance brought on Reagan's three terms (yes, POTUS 41 was really a third term). All that and crisis TV may be a pretty high price to pay.

No comments: