'Twas a famous media victory

Pat Buchanan

6/17/2002 12:00:00 AM - Pat Buchanan
With the 30th anniversary of the Watergate break-in hard upon us, the calls are coming in. Would this writer like to join a panel to "discuss" the Watergate break-in? Though few under 40 can remember what it was about, our Big Media never tire of retelling their version of the story of Watergate. Why? First, because, with Nixon unknown to a new generation, they can recast the tale as a morality play in which liberals saved America. Second, those were the happiest days of their lives. They were on a permanent high, for they were, at long last, wreaking delicious revenge on the man -- "Tailgunner Joe" McCarthy excepted -- they hated more than any other. One liberal triumphantly titled his book of the era, "When the Good Guys Finally Won." What a howler. Why did they hate Nixon so? Why do they hate him still? What motivated the Nixon-haters in politics and press to so revile him? Born poor, with an older and younger brother dying before they were 18, Nixon's story was classic Horatio Alger. He excelled at school, worked in his dad's grocery, served his country honorably in World War II, came home to run for Congress and was elected with fellow vet John F. Kennedy. But unlike his playboy friend, Nixon took Congress seriously. In his first term, he vaulted to national fame by exposing as a traitor, spy and agent of Joe Stalin inside the Truman-FDR inner circle the Golden Boy of Liberalism, Alger Hiss. In the Truman era, Americans were angrily demanding answers. Twelve million Americans had fought World War II to victory, but Stalin seemed the big winner. Ten Christian countries of Eastern Europe had been ceded over to the Great Terrorist by Churchill and FDR at Yalta. The most populous nation on earth, China, for which we had gone to war, had fallen to the murderous madman Mao Tse-tung. From Indochina to Korea to Czechoslovakia, communism was ascendant. What Nixon provided was hard evidence that the suspicions of American patriots were justified. FDR's regime had indeed been honeycombed with Stalin's spies and homegrown Red traitors. Nixon had exposed the best and brightest of the New Dealers as dupes. They would never forgive him. In 1948, both parties nominated Nixon for a second term in the House. Not only did Jack Kennedy agree with Nixon, castigating FDR and Secretary of State George Marshall for the loss of China, JFK's father sent a check to Nixon's 1950 Senate campaign. Nixon won a massive landslide over Helen Gahagan Douglas, after Mrs. Douglas had been carved up as a naive fellow traveler in her Democratic primary. The Left seethed with resentment. For now, Nixon -- the most effective anti-Communist of his era, the Bayonet of the Republican Party in the triumphant 1952 campaign against feckless liberal egghead Adlai Stevenson -- had captured the vice presidency at 39 years of age. When the liberal New York Post launched a smear to drive Nixon off the Eisenhower ticket -- accusing him of having a "secret" slush fund -- Nixon's televised counter-attack, the famous "Checkers speech," not only solidified his position but made him the first Republican politician in decades with broad appeal across Middle America. In the 1960 campaign, the national press corps went into the tank for Kennedy, covering up a lifestyle that made Clinton look like a Trappist monk. And though there is hard evidence the 1960 election was stolen in Chicago and Texas, the press was delighted at Nixon's defeat. In 1962, when the Cuban missile crisis blacked out Nixon's surging campaign for governor of California and he denounced the media at his "last press conference," the Establishment exultantly declared him dead. But after the Goldwater rout of 1964, Richard Nixon began the greatest comeback in American history. He led the GOP to a 47-seat gain in the House in 1966 and, two years later, to victory over the great liberal Democrat Hubert Humphrey. Then, with both Houses of Congress, the bureaucracy, Big Media, and the cultural and academic elites viscerally opposed, Nixon, by 1972, seemed to have achieved his greatest coup: A U.S. victory in Vietnam. He and Spiro Agnew were rewarded with the greatest popular landslide in history, carrying 49 states against another champion of liberalism, George McGovern. But by now, Nixon had stumbled. Instead of throwing his old friend John Mitchell to the wolves when Mitchell's aides got caught filching papers from the Democratic National Committee, Nixon let White House aides attempt to contain the scandal. Like FDR, JFK and LBJ, he crossed the line. But where they had been protected by Democratic Congresses and their media allies, Congress and the media seized on Watergate and colluded to destroy a president who had defeated them and taken the country completely away from them. After 18 months of relentless attack, with his Great Silent Majority shrunk to 25 percent of the country, Nixon had to resign. To crown the Left's victory, Vietnam, cut off by the same vindictive Congress from the means to defend itself, fell to Asian communism, as did the poor Cambodians. Congress then proceeded to gut the FBI and CIA, for which we are paying so heavily today. And that, children, is the story of Watergate you will not hear. I know, because I was there.