Thursday, May 11, 2017

Charles Pierce continues to hammer away at the differences between 1974 and 2017

We've been making the point for ages now that, while the legacies of Goldwater and Watergate are important, the analogies to today are deeply problematic. The differences are, if anything, more important than the similarities.

As noted previously, veteran political observer Charles Pierce was pointing out this contrast even as the Trump White House was preparing to announce the firing of Comey. The next day, Pierce made the same point even more forcefully. 

On July 25,1974, the House Judiciary Committee opened debate on the articles of impeachment. A congressman named M. Caldwell Butler said:

    "For years we… have campaigned against corruption and misconduct…But Watergate is our shame."

And a congressman named Lawrence Hogan said:

    "After reading the transcripts, it was sobering: the number of untruths, the deception and the immoral attitudes. By any standard of proof demanded, we had to bind him over for trial and removal by the Senate."

And a congressman named William Cohen said:

    "I have been faced with the terrible responsibility of assessing the conduct of a President that I voted for, believed to be the best man to lead this country, who has made significant and lasting contributions toward securing peace in this country, throughout the world, but a President who in the process by actor acquiescence allowed the rule of law and the Constitution to slip under the boots of indifference and arrogance and abuse."

And a congressman named Thomas Railsback said:

    "I wish the President could do something to absolve himself."

And a congressman named Walter Flowers said:

    "This is something we just cannot walk away from. It happened, and now we've got to deal with it."

All of these congressmen voted to send the articles of impeachment to the full House.

On August 7, 1974, two senators named Hugh Scott and Barry Goldwater, along with a congressman named John Rhodes, went to the White House and told Richard Nixon that his removal from office was inevitable. Nixon resigned the next day. Now, looking back from the swamp in which we currently find ourselves, there is one remarkable thing about all the people whose actions in that perilous time showed what stuff of which they and the country were made.

They were all Republicans.

Every damn one of them, from Sirica to Goldwater and back again. They all did their duty, as best they saw that duty and, as a result, a Republican president was forced to give up an office he'd won in a landslide only one year earlier.

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