So, here we are, waiting to see if there are indictments of White House officials. What will Bush and the “conservative movement” do if the PlameGate, Abramoff, DeLay, Reed and/or other crime/corruption investigations finally threaten to bring down the Bush Presidency — along with Republican control of the House and Senate?
Let’s look back at what happened when Nixon was being forced out.
But first, here’s what got me thinking about this. I came across the following, Military’s Advice to Reporters: 2,000 Dead in Iraq ‘Not a Milestone’,
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan, director of the force’s combined press center, wrote in an e-mail to reporters, “The 2,000 service members killed in Iraq supporting Operation Iraqi Freedom is not a milestone. It is an artificial mark on the wall set by individuals or groups with specific agendas and ulterior motives.“
And this, The Party‘s nominee for chief Pentagon Spokesman, claiming the America media are in “partnership” with al Queda,
“Osama bin Laden, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi and Al Qaeda have a partner in Al Jazeera and, by extension, most networks in the U.S.,” Mr. Smith wrote. “This partnership is a powerful tool for the terrorists in the war in Iraq.”
Our media “in partnership” with al Queda…
The first was from a Lt. Col., the second from a political appointee, both in the Pentagon. When I hear official military spokesmen echoing Rush Limbaugh and saying that the press is “in partnership” with terrorists, or insinuating that I am somehow anti-American it makes me nervous. That’s because I remember Nixon.
When Nixon was in his last days in office, drunk, paranoid and raving, the Secretary of Defense instructed the Joint Chiefs to ignore any orders given by Nixon, in case he attempted a coup. From The Modern History Project:
Then in October, came the rumor that Nixon may be considering a military coup to stay in office. Gen. Alexander Haig told the Congress during his confirmation hearings for the position of Secretary of State on January, 1981, that some people in Washington were “flirting with solutions which would have been extra-Constitutional”. Watergate Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski warned the grand jury that if they decided to indict Nixon he might use force to remain in office. In June, 1982, Harold Evans, Watergate grand juror, appearing on a segment of the ABC-TV news show “20/20.” said that Jaworski told them that if they indicted Nixon he might “surround the White House with armed forces.”
On October 26, 1973, in a Washington Star article called “Has President Nixon Gone Crazy?” syndicated columnist Carl Rowan wrote: “…in the face of a vote to impeach he might try, as ‘commander-in-chief’ to use military forces to keep himself in power.” In another article called “The Pardon,” in the August, 1983 edition of the Atlantic Monthly, by Seymour Hersh, one of Nixon’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, recalled that in a December 22, 1973 meeting:
“He kept on referring to the fact that he may be the last hope, (that) the Eastern elite was out to get him. He kept saying, ‘This is our last and best hope. The last chance to resist the fascists’. His words brought me straight up out of my chair. I felt the President, without the words having been said, was trying to sound us out to see if we would support him in some extra-constitutional action …
(Secretary of Defense James) Schlesinger began to investigate what forces could be assembled at his order as a counterweight to the Marines, if Nixon — in a crisis — chose to subvert the Constitution. The notion that Nixon could at any time resort to extraordinary steps to preserve his presidency was far more widespread in the government than the public perceived…”
He felt it would be led by General Robert Cushman, the Marine Representative on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who had been loyal to Nixon ever since he had been his military aide while he was the Vice President under Eisenhower. Schlesinger, in July, 1974, believing the Washington contingent of Marines to be the probable force used in a coup attempt began developing a strategy to bring in the Army’s 82nd Airborne Division from Fort Bragg, North Carolina.
On August 2, 1974, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger admitted that General Haig had informed him that Nixon was considering the idea of surrounding the White House with troops. In an August 27, 1974 article in the Washington Post titled “Military Coup Fears Denied,” the fact was revealed that:
“Defense Secretary James Schlesinger requested a tight watch in the military chain of command to ensure that no extraordinary orders went out from the White House during the period of uncertainty (and) that no commanders of any forces should carry out orders which came from the White House, or elsewhere, outside the normal military channels.”
Tantamount to a military coup, and contrary to the Constitution, the Joint Chiefs of Staff sent a secret communiqué to all Commanders of the U.S. military forces around the world: “Upon receipt of this message you will no longer carry out any orders from the White House. Acknowledge receipt.”
More graphically, from a review of the book “THE ARROGANCE OF POWER, The Secret World of Richard Nixon”,
The inescapable conclusion, well bodyguarded by meticulous research and footnotes, is that in the Nixon era the United States was, in essence, a ”rogue state.” It had a ruthless, paranoid and unstable leader who did not hesitate to break the laws of his own country in order to violate the neutrality, menace the territorial integrity or destabilize the internal affairs of other nations. At the close of this man’s reign, in an episode more typical of a banana republic or a ”peoples’ democracy,” his own secretary of defense, James Schlesinger, had to instruct the Joint Chiefs of Staff to disregard any military order originating in the White House.
Schlesinger had excellent grounds for circumspection. Not only had he learned that Nixon had asked the Joint Chiefs ”whether in a crunch there was support to keep him in power,” but he had also been told the following by Joseph Laitin, public affairs spokesman of the Office of Management and Budget. On his way to the West Wing in the spring of 1974, Laitin recalls:
”I’d reached the basement, near the Situation Room. And just as I was about to ascend the stairway, a guy came running down the stairs two steps at a time. He had a frantic look on his face, wild-eyed, like a madman. And he bowled me over, so I kind of lost my balance. And before I could pick myself up, six athletic-looking young men leapt over me, pursuing him. I suddenly realized that they were Secret Service agents, that I’d been knocked over by the president of the United States.”
Well I’m old enough to remember Nixon. And I have to tell you that this Bush crowd just picks up where Nixon left off. It’s not even a comparison. This crowd is much more corrupt and ideologically crazed and cynical and dangerous that Nixon.
So here’s the thing. Times have changed since the days of Nixon. The far-right is far more powerful and entrenched, far more self-righteous, have an extreme persecution complex and have become very insular and cult-like. Their ideology has spun itself so far that regular people have a difficult time even understanding the language and references they use in their “home” discussions at discussion centers like Free Republic.
As I said, times have changed. The Right has made great inroads infiltrating and indoctrinating the institutions of society — the churches, business, media and the courts. They have been purging the agencies of the government and installing Party hacks. And they have largely purged the reasonable people and the moderate and civil voices from their ranks. Who is there in place today to defy the Dobsons and Norquists? Here we are amazed at Patrick Fitzgerald because we no longer expect to see even ONE person who is willing and able to go against the Right’s machine.
So it comes down to whether they’re willing to pull the trigger or not if backed up against the wall. How does Bush stack up against Nixon when pressed? (I keep thinking about the 1991 coup attempt against Gorbechev, tanks surrounding the Soviet Parliament building.) Under Nixon we came close, but our traditions of democracy and moderation saved us. It was Nixon’s Secretary of Defense who ordered the Joint Chiefs to check before following Nixon’s commands. In the Gorbechev coup enough of the military refused to go along. But infiltration and indoctrination have been the hallmarks of the Right for the past thirty years and the military has been a natural target for such activity.
If Bush decides to pull the trigger, will the military follow The Party or the Constitution?