Sunday, July 17, 2005

Nixon and Bush: Presidential parallels?

Pete McCloskey: 'Nixon and Bush: Presidential parallels?'
Posted on Sunday, July 17 @ 09:45:40 EDT
By Pete McCloskey, Sacramento Bee
The eerie parallels between the Richard Nixon and George W. Bush administrations continue.
Once again the famous words of Lord Acton in 1887 come to mind: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
Both Nixon in 1972 and Bush in 2004 won re-election to a second term. Both had impressive agendas for domestic reform, but both were at war - Nixon in Vietnam, Bush in Iraq. Both faced what they felt was disloyal, if not treasonous, conduct by former federal employees. Marine veteran Daniel Ellsberg had given the then top secret Pentagon Papers to the New York Times in 1971, and the Times risked prosecution for publishing excerpts, among which was the damning statement by Assistant Secretary of Defense John McNaughton that 70 percent of the reason for fighting the war was to save American face. The Nixon White House was desperate to discredit Ellsberg to preserve dwindling public support for the war - to allow a "decent interval" to elapse before South Vietnam fell to the North, in Henry Kissinger's words.
Nixon's chief domestic adviser, John Ehrlichman, ordered the burglary of Ellsberg's California psychiatrist's office to obtain records that he thought might show Ellsberg to be mentally unstable.
One of President Bush's stated reasons for going to war with Iraq was that Iraq had sought to purchase bomb-making materials from Niger. In 2003 respected former U.S. Ambassador Joseph Wilson said it wasn't so. Then someone high on the White House staff, equally desperate to protect the president's election, sought to discredit Ambassador Wilson by suggesting to the press that Wilson's wife, Valerie Plame, was a CIA agent who had suggested that her husband be sent to Niger.
Both in 1971 and 2003, the actions of these zealous presidential aides had dire results....