At the height of what was arguably Britain’s greatest political scandal of the 20th century, the infamous Profumo affair (see The Crown, Season 2, Episode 3), the Court of Queen’s Bench was called to consider the guilt or innocence of several people accused of consorting and cavorting with the Soviets — or, as we say today, the Russians.
The central issue was whether Stephen Ward — while hosting orgiastic country house parties that included both cabinet ministers and spies — had enabled espionage through multiple favors to both sides from two superbly attractive “sex workers,” Christine Keeler and Mandy Rice-Davies. Ward and his guests, as fully paid-up members of the ruling class, assumed “ordinary people” would accept whatever the lords and ladies affirmed. So, naturally, when Mandy entered the dock, their barrister fulminated, tugging irritably at his short powdered wig.
“You do realize, Miss Davies,” he said with aristocratic condescension, “Lord Astor denies everything you have said and repudiates comprehensively the entire accusation of malfeasance on his part as preposterous and denies ever having met you.” (Or words to that effect).
Mandy stared back in great puzzlement. And then, like a patient mother explaining the world to a 12-year-old, smiled softly and replied in a slightly cockneyfied accent:
“Well … he would, wouldn’t he, luv?”
The entire court from gallery to bench burst into uproarious laughter and Stephen Ward’s fate was sealed. And the ruling class was stripped of its expected line of defense by a sex-worker.
Consider, now, a recent exchange on The Story With Martha MacCallum between former Congressman Jason Chaffetz and University of Chicago Business School Professor Austan Goolsbee, former Obama advisor and frequent television talk-worker for the Progressivist cause. At issue was the Nunes memo. Mr. Chaffetz pointed out that one of the things that makes America, if you will, exceptional, is that all citizens are equal, endowed by their creator and not their king. And that a profound consequence of this basic American principle is that the governing have no more right to spy upon their fellow citizens than does a foreign agent. Mr. Goolsbee replied:
The intelligence community itself, as well as virtually all the Democrats who have seen (this) … memo … (call it) utterly misleading and in many cases directly the opposite conclusion to what the intelligence community itself says.
Plus ça change, plus la meme chose. Once again, the ruling class (not a very American concept but accurate nonetheless) demands acquiescence. But if, like Mandy, we deplorables resist our self-appointed, self-perpetuating “betters” with common sense and the obvious, the Steven Wards have only one last line of defense: “Aw, they all do it!”
A pronouncement no doubt coming soon from those in high office who compromised everything our country has stood for, that her people have fought for, and what we believe is the best of us, our beacon to the world. Expect them to be aided in this by Democratic congressional leadership and their supportive talk-workers.
But it’s untrue; they don’t all do it.
Richard Nixon had a list, but he didn’t conspire with J. Edgar Hoover to frame his enemies. “The Pentagon Papers” were litigated in open court. Watergate and IranContragate were aired publicly before congressional committees. Our national safety and the sanctity of our personal freedoms were not decided or contorted in a secret room by a secret body shown only the select information the prosecutors chose to present. As Lavrentiy Beria, Stalin’s secret police chief, boasted: “Show me the man, I’ll find the crime.”
Hollywood’s elite swallowed it whole. Here, where we have already gone through the looking glass, my colleagues:
a) bemoan how the awful Devin Nunes and the reptilian (choose a second vile adjective) Donald Trump threaten all that’s holy by releasing a memo with a very few basic facts suggesting we’re on a slippery slope toward something resembling the late, unlamented East Germany (which Progressives also called a Democratic Republic);
b) in the same sentence they urge me to cast my Academy vote for The Post and honor its tribute to transparency, courageous journalism and “speaking truth to power.”
The irony is lost on them.
But so many are unschooled, preferring the emotionalism of social justice warrioring to the rigor of learning history’s truths. And if, like Mandy Rice-Davies, you shrug at their empty, groundless denials, you’re met by the final certainty of the Hollywood Progressive’s catechism: “Aw, they all do it.”
No, we don’t all do it. But the putative American aristocracy did it this time. And whether or not they get away with it is all that matters.
This is not the constitutional crisis Nancy Pelosi claims, but an existential test of the safeguards that have protected Americans’ freedom from the first. Safeguards including, but not limited to, “due process,” “transparency,” a “free” press, and — most principally — that all individuals are equal before the law, despite breeding, academic credential, or tailor. It seems that for our ruling class, that is far too demanding.