NUDGE NUDGE, WINK WINK: There’s a great scene in All the President’s Men where Redford and Hoffman as Woodward and Bernstein interview Donald Segretti, played by Robert Walden (who would later portray a reporter himself in TV’s Lou Grant). Segretti tells “Woodstein” that he’ll probably go to jail for all the dirty tricks he pulled on the Democrat’s presidential candidates during the ’72 presidential campaign, as part of Nixon’s “dirty tricks” team, to help get him re-elected. He tells the reporters something like “I’ll probably go to jail…and for what??!!”
The subtext is obvious: the Democrats are good guys who would never do anything like that. Flash-forward thirty years to the 2002 midterms, where Jason L. Riley of the Wall Street Journal travels along with Rep. Julia Carson, a Democrat running for reelection in Indiana. Carson’s election team winked and nodded right in front of Riley, as they pulled all sorts of shady tricks to get Carson elected.
Carson won the battle, but Bush won the midterms. The weight of Bill Clinton’s shenanigans, the 2000 Florida election scandal, the Jeffords defection, and finally the Wellstone funeral/pep rally are finally beginning to stick to the Democrats.
Jimmy Carter, in retrospect, wasn’t exactly squeaky clean. But the Democrats would be wise to find someone with that image, who can win honestly, then to keep relying on their own Donald Segrettis to win elections.