(Fred Weinberg/The Penny Press) – It appears that in addition to being a lousy Constitutional Law instructor, our current President is also a lousy student of history.
When the final book is written on Richard Nixon’s tour of duty at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, the words of then Chief Justice Warren Burger in his July 24, 1974, opinion in United States vs. Richard Nixon should ring more loudly than all others.
“In this case, we must weigh the importance of the general privilege of confidentiality of Presidential communications in performance of the President’s responsibilities against the inroads of such a privilege on the fair administration of criminal justice The interest in preserving confidentiality is weighty indeed, and entitled to great respect. However, we cannot conclude that advisers will be moved to temper the candor of their remarks by the infrequent occasions of disclosure because of the possibility that such conversations will be called for in the context of a criminal prosecution.”
At least Nixon was only trying to cover up a “third rate burglary” as opposed to an incredibly stupid gun running operation by his attorney general which resulted in the death of a uniformed member of the United States Border Patrol.
In Nixon’s case, the court found 8-0 (Justice Rhenquist did not participate.) that while there might be an “executive privilege” it does not place a President and his co-workers above the law. And, keep in mind that nobody was killed during the Watergate scandal.
So a Congressional committee is now investigating the so-called Fast and Furious gun running scandal. Our current Attorney General, Eric Holder—who makes Nixon’s AG, John Mitchell, look like a choirboy—is asked for documents which will probably show he was involved in the operation up to his ideological eyeballs. He stonewalls and stonewalls. And just when he is about to get cited for contempt of Congress, he gets his old pal, the President, to say that those documents are subject to “executive privilege”.
To use a term popularized by Newt Gingrich, stunningly stupid.
Until now, the President hadn’t even been involved. And the concept of executive privilege is to protect communications between a President and his advisors. With this new claim, the game is changed—and not in a good way.
Now, it is a legitimate question to ask, what the President knew and when did he know it?
That was the question the late Senator Sam Ervin kept asking about Richard Nixon until the House Judiciary Committee voted a bill of impeachment which ultimately resulted in Nixon’s resignation—the first and only time in the history of the nation that a President has voluntarily walked away from the office.
I’m giving you this history of Watergate, because it occurs to me that if you are not over 50, this all happened 39 years ago and many voters today simply are not familiar with it because they did not live through it.
Barack Obama was Barry Obama in 1974. At age 13 he probably had not yet even discovered the drugs he said he used enthusiastically later in his youth (see the autobiography he wrote when he was 30) much less the case of United States vs. Richard Nixon. The problem here is that Barry is now Barack and he is sitting exactly where Richard Nixon was in 1974 and still hasn’t studied his history.
This is an absolute loser for the President.
In fact, to paraphrase what John Dean told President Nixon, this may well be a cancer on the Presidency. It may well also be a ticking time bomb. Not because the President is involved in the stupidity of running guns to Mexico but because the President is involved in the cover-up so his old pal Eric Holder—who has clearly lied to Congress—isn’t forced from office as was John Mitchell back in the Nixon Administration.
Stupid, stupid, stupid.
The departure of Holder would not help Republicans because they want him there as a millstone around Obama’s neck until November 6.
But the longer Holder is allowed to run the Department of so-called Justice like the bull in china shop he is, the longer the taxpayers are denied a real department of Justice.
The upside here is that if Obama allows this to continue, the Supreme Court may get a chance to revisit the question of executive privilege and, based on the decisions of this term—the whole court’s decisions—the results may give us another 39 years of precedent in favor of the real owners of the government—us.