Friday, April 08, 2011
The Ghost of Nixon
More than thirty-five year ago, in the summer of 1974, I was finishing a Masters degree at the University of North Carolina. I lived in a student residence -- a high rise affair -- where, every morning, I could walk out on my balcony and look down at a parking lot whose cars bore licence plates from all over the United States. There was always one car which caught my eye. It was a green Ford from Massachusetts, with a bumper sticker which read, "Don't Blame Me."
The reference was to the fact that, in 1972, Massachusetts was the only state not to vote for Richard Nixon. The Watergate story -- thanks to Woodward and Bernstein -- had begun to come out during that election. The Nixon campaign team had authorized burglaries into Democratic Party Headquarters. Nixon had ordered the IRS to harass his enemies; and the FBI had begun to look into the affairs of people who did not support the president.
On the evening of August 8th, I was putting the finishing touches on my thesis. I took a break and walked down to the basement -- to the Common Room -- where every student in the dorm had gathered to watch Nixon give his resignation speech. When it was over, I walked back to my room, where some of my neighbours had opened a bottle of wine and were singing the Hallelujah Chorus. I had followed the Watergate Affair. But I was a visitor, so I kept my opinions to myself. I smiled, said that I was a Canadian, and I asked why the celebration. They -- there were about six in the group -- stopped, whooped and one guy said, slowly and distinctly, "Because we finally got rid of the son of a bitch!"
I have been thinking of that night as news reports of RCMP officers throwing people out of Harper rallies have come to light. It would appear that someone in that organization has been carefully screening Facebook pages. Then there is the story that Wild Bill Elliott, now Commissioner of the RCMP, issued a security clearance to Bruce Carson -- Harper's chief adviser in the PMO -- knowing that Carson had been convicted on five counts.
Harper's response has been, "When the room is full, some people have to leave." And, he says, "bureaucrats" vetted Mr. Carson; he had nothing to do with it. Harper is as believable as Nixon was when he proclaimed, "I am not a crook!" The evidence has been mounting for five years. Stephen Harper threatens Canada's democratic institutions. And, like Nixon, Harper's acquaintance with the truth is tenuous. Michael Ignatieff has it right. He "wouldn't recognize the truth if it walked up and shook his hand."
The question is, are Canadians going to place their trust in this man? If they do, they will regret their decision. And some night -- in the not too distant future -- they will celebrate his departure. Until then, there may be run on bumper stickers which read, "Don't Blame Me."
This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.