All the President's Gates:
Let's get somethin' clear here in all the nostalgia over Watergate, all the wish-fulfillment over bringin' down a vile, evil, mad, powermongering President: "Watergate," the historic event, wasn't about break-ins, wiretaps, and cover-ups. Sure, yeah, yeah, that's what the scandal itself was. But Watergate was really about the Vietnam War. Nixon had been re-elected in a landslide, but as soon as the Watergate burglars were convicted, his approval ratings sank into the sewer below the toilet. And once that happened, it was feeding frenzy time.
Support for the war had drifted downward since the Tet Offensive (at the end of Johnson's administration) and Nixon had betrayed the public's trust by promising withdrawal, but instead escalating the war and bombing Cambodia. (Why did Nixon win re-election? One reason is because white people were afraid of the Black Power movement, but that is a tale for another time.) In other words, Watergate was the way to get back at the White House for the monumental fuck-up that was 'Nam (and the Pentagon Papers had demonstrated how monumental that fuck-up was). Nixon resigned and retreated in disgrace with his victory fingers shoved up his own ass over the cover-up of the espionage shit, but that was only because they were able to get him on that instead of the greater crimes of Vietnam.
So it's just goddamn funny to see all Nixon's lackeys out there calling Deep Throat W. Mark Felt a "snake," a "traitor, and more. Pat Buchanan, in his "column" today (if by "column," you mean "the jowly yawps of insignificance from a fascist cartoon balloon"), calls Felt "an FBI hack who was ratting out President Nixon for passing him over as director." Buchanan excuses Nixon using the same rationale that ratfucking scoundrels have used since cavedwellers could belch out sounds: everybody else does it - we just got caught: "Not one miscreancy committed by Nixon's men did not have its antecedent in the White Houses of JFK or LBJ. But they got away with it." It's like saying that other frats gang rape passed out coeds all the time and no one rats them out; but we Dekes rape one Tri-Sig and we get sent to jail.
In the end, it doesn't matter (as the Rude Pundit said earlier this week). In a perfect world, crimes ought to be judged on their own intrinsic harm, whistleblowers' lives and motives ought to be insignificant, and the evil ought to be punished. Nixon had to be dragged up to the Capitol Rotunda and, before the statue of George Washington, sliced open, his cold guts spilled on the floor, like a worthless sacrifice at the end of Mayan civilization. We had to believe the gods needed to be appeased. We had to believe they were appeased. We were wrong, just as the Mayans were wrong to believe the crops would flourish because virgin blood nourished the earth and a heart was burned in honor of absent deities.
There's many reasons why the Downing Street Memo has gotten so little attention in America beyond Left Blogsylvania, despite the fact that it says that the Bush administration "fixed" the intelligence around its desire to bomb the living shit out of Iraq, "fixed" it like a cheap mafia thug fixes a warehouse boxing match. We could point to the corporate media, the post-Rather memo fake-out, and more. But remember: the Pentagon Papers were published in the middle of 1971. Nixon still got over 60% of the popular vote and 520 electoral votes in 1972.
The Rude Pundit thinks this: the American public, in growing numbers, knows in its heart that they've been lied to, just like in Vietnam, and that Americans are being killed for those lies, just like in Vietnam. But fear is a powerful thing: deep, psychological, repressed fear - that if the truth is not held back, then the monsters of anarchy must be unleashed. It is better to take down a President for something a great deal more prosaic than war crimes and mass murder. Because what does it say about us if our leader is guilty of such things?
Which is why the Rude Pundit believes, hopes beyond rational hope, that other 'Gates are going to develop around George W. Bush, 'Gates that will move in tighter and tighter until they become increasingly strangling. And that's why this is a very interesting little development in the Jack Abramoff scandal: it seems that the White House was allowed to be used to fundraise for Abramoff's and Grover Norquist's various causes/pocketbooks.
Ahhh, the sweet relief of dirty money. Now there's something we can actually get our heads around.