Have I been too harsh about the Tea Partiers? Okay I have to admit there’s one thing I share with them: a contempt for the Washington establishment and the way they look after their own.
Last weekend on NPR I heard an astonishing defense of the late Al Haig’s corrupt bargain to get unindicted co-conspirator President Richard Nixon a pardon for his crimes by offering then Vice President Gerald Ford the Presidency.
The Haig defender was liberal NPR icon Daniel Schorr, a fixture of the Washington establishment who should know better, but clearly has, in this instance, become a spokesman for the all-too-comfortable DC establishment view that “stability”–for the DC establishment–must be maintained at all costs. Stability is the highest value, even if it means denying the American people the truth a trial might reveal.
Schorr recounted the long forgotten details of the corrupt bargain. Essentially what this meant was that in the last days of August 1974, Haig went to VP Ford on behalf of Nixon who was about to be impeached, convicted, and probably thereafter criminally indicted and said, in so many words, Nixon will resign now, go quietly if you assure him that when you become President you will issue him a pardon exempting him from any prosecution for his many demonstrated crimes.
According to this “insider’s” account by Schorr, Ford temporized and said he couldn’t be sure, but Haig went back to Nixon and basically said he had a yes. Tricked Tricky Dick. Haig performed this manipulation to ease Nixon out without a bruising fight, Senate trial and later criminal trial which the DC establishment, for reasons of “stability” and return to normalcy, and perhaps keeping the lid on things (there was a lot of embarrassing stuff that could have come out in a criminal trial).
Nixon then resigned and several months later Ford pardoned him.
The amazing thing about this is that Daniel Schorr clearly thought Haig worthy of praise for this maneuver, which denied Americans the full truth about the Watergate crimes, as we’re now only learning from delayed White House tape releases. The ones especially that indicate that the historical consensus — Nixon didn’t order the break-in, just facilitated the cover up — is false. Nixon, it has become increasingly clear, initiated this crime among many others.
But Schorr, someone I’ve admired in the past as a hard charging reporter, was, when it came down to it, retrospectively more loyal to the DC establishment’s comfort, placed a higher value on the return to stability and normality that Haig enabled, rather than the allowed truth about the extent of criminality in the White House to come out, as it would have had there been a trial of Nixon the pardon averted.
Essentially Schorr was saying Haig did the American people a service because they couldn’t handle the truth. It is n rejection of this condescension by Washington insiders that I find common ground with the TPers.