Thursday, March 01, 2012

Listen For The Rhymes

"History doesn't repeat itself," Mark Twain wrote, "but it does rhyme." Stephen Harper's complaint that opposition charges of voter suppression are merely a "smear campaign" by sore losers, sounds remarkably like Spiro Agnew's claim that critics of the Nixon administration were "nattering nabobs of negativism." People forget that Agnew resigned his vice presidency after being charged with  -- and eventually convicted of -- corruption.

People also forget that Nixon's crime was not ordering a "third rate burglary." It was his attempt to cover it up. And they forget that, before he left office, several of his enablers resigned in disgrace and spent time in prison. The refrain from a popular song of the day listed the main culprits -- "Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean."

Everyone remembers Nixon's steadfast assertion the he was "not a crook." But they forget his much more significant -- and chilling -- assertion: "When the president does it, it's legal."  Peter Van Loan's assertion that his party's "reprehensible" phone behaviour in Irwin Cotler's riding was really just an exercise in free speech sounds eerily like Nixon.

And, yesterday, Andrew Coyne echoed Deep Throat's advice to Woodward and Bernstein:

So the question then becomes: who paid his expenses? And, broadening out, who footed the bill for similar operations, live or automated, in other ridings? As in any such investigation, “follow the money” and you cannot go far wrong.

Richard Nixon insisted that the Watergate break in was merely a rogue operation. He was eventually driven from office because the courts and the press did not let him off the hook.

Listen carefully and you can hear the rhymes.


Tossing Pebbles in the Stream said...

It may take someone to break ranks with Harper for us to find out the extent of the problem.

Thinking of Nixon, I remember Eliot Richardson and how he refused to fire Cox the special investigator. I knew Eliot Richardson when I lived in Boston.
There never was a more honourable man who would have made a good President. I often wonder where the Republicans of his stature are these days. I would like to think some Conserative person close to Harper will get tired and embarrassed to have to keep holding his nose and rebel against Harper and company.

Owen Gray said...

It would be really helpful if there was one person in the Conservative Party who had Eliot Richardson's integrity, Philip.

From what I've seen in the last six years, there is no one like him in sight.

Kirbycairo said...

Excellent post Owen. The similarities between Harper and Nixon and gradually grown as the years have passed now I truly believe, with Pebbles, that the only thing standing between Harper's occupation of the PMO and a prison cell is a single person with and ounce of integrity who is willing to refuse to entirely abandon honesty. But it is amazing how seldom one meets with actual integrity at the top level of politics.

Owen Gray said...

There was a time, Kirby, when I thought that Jim Prentice might be that person.

But he is not; and he has left the scene. It's possible that such a person exists. But, to date, he or she has not shown up.

Unless and until such a person arises, Harper is going to throw a lot of people -- his own Halderman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean -- under the bus.

Beijing York said...

Responsive Marketing Group (responsible for the Thunder Bay call centre services) has some hard core Conservatives on staff and associations. Strong links to Harris Conservatives and Campbell Liberals as well as Harper current and former staffers.

Owen Gray said...

That's interesting news, Bejiing. Harper has denied that anyone on the national campaign staff was involved.

But his spokesman has clarified that statement. That doesn't mean that others, at the local level, weren't involved.

It's a classic Nixonian half truth: " I wasn't involved. But my subordinates were."