Three former aides to Richard Nixon are defending the disgraced president surrounding the 40th anniversary of his resignation over the Watergate scandal. The aides-turned-pundits are using their media platforms to claim Nixon shouldn't have been impeached, Watergate was the product of "the malice and collusion of liberal elites," and that the former president was "a patriot" who "we desperately miss on the scene today."
The Watergate scandal involved vast criminality that eventually reached the top echelon of government. The New York Times noted: "Entangled in that skein were dozens of men implicated in the scandal, many of whom were top aides to the President. As it steadily unwound, the American people watched a parade of witnesses expose the details of a political crime whose proportions were nearly unfathomable: wiretapping, money laundering, destruction of documents, payment of hush money, character assassination, disinformation and deception -- all perpetrated by people at the highest levels of Government. More than 30 people pleaded guilty or were convicted of crimes like perjury, burglary, wiretapping and obstruction of justice."
In recent years, conservatives have been claiming that numerous supposed Obama administration scandals are equal to or worse than Watergate.
Three former Nixon aides, Pat Buchanan, Roger Stone, and Monica Crowley, have been attempting to rehabilitate Nixon through the media. The aides are discredited, though perhaps appropriate, messengers on behalf of the former president given their post-Nixon histories.
Pat Buchanan served as an assistant to Nixon from 1966 through 1974. Buchanan's advice to Nixon included urging him not to visit Martin Luther King's widow because King was "one of the most divisive men in contemporary history" and warning Nixon not to "fritter away his present high support in the nation for an ill-advised governmental effort to forcibly integrate races." Buchanan then became a conservative commentator and repeat presidential candidate. As CNN's Jake Tapper once noted, Buchanan leaves "a trail of racist, xenophobic and anti-Semitic rhetorical dung behind him wherever he goes."
Buchanan wrote an August 7 USA Today op-ed claiming that Nixon's resignation was the "product of the malice and collusion of liberal elites who had been repudiated in Nixon's 49-state landslide in 1972." While Buchanan conceded that Nixon was not "blameless" for his troubles, his "great failing was in not realizing that in the city to which we came in 1969, he was not dealing with garden variety snakes, but with vipers." He recently released a book, The Greatest Comeback: How Richard Nixon Rose from Defeat to Create the New Majority, which attempts to rewrite the history of how Nixon used racial animosity for political gain.
Roger Stone is a "professional dirty trickster" who honed his craft as a teenager when he started working for Nixon's reelection campaign. More recently, he formed an anti-Hillary Clinton group with the acronym "C.U.N.T." after he tried "to come up with words for B.I.T.C.H. and just couldn't do it." In a 2012 profile, New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman wrote that "Stone thinks politics has gotten a lot less interesting since those Nixon days. For one, there are 'fewer and fewer' dirty tricks." Echoing that theme, Stone has endorsed birther smears against President Obama, and pushed claims that Michelle Obama was caught on tape calling white people "whiteys."
He appeared on the August 8 edition of Good Day New York, the morning show for New York City's Fox affiliate. During the interview, Stone attacked Watergate whistleblower John Dean as "perpetrating a fraud." Stone added Nixon shouldn't have been impeached even though "he did" and "said some egregious and terrible things." Stone argued Nixon was a "very successful president," pointing to Nixon's record on domestic and foreign affairs. "Unfortunately, all of that gets buried in the ashes of Watergate," Stone complained.
Stone, who has a Nixon tattoo on his back, wrote an August 6 piece for FoxNews.com claiming the "mainstream media narrative about Watergate is a grotesque and fantastic distortion of historical fact" and attacking Dean for perpetrating "this narrative." Fox News is headed by another former Nixon aide, Fox News chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. Stone is also the author of the recently released book Nixon's Secrets: The Rise, Fall, and Untold Truth about the President, Watergate, and the Pardon. According to the book's website, Stone blames Dean for the Watergate break-in and the subsequent cover-up.
Monica Crowley served as a foreign policy aide to Nixon from 1990 to 1994. She called the Obama administration's ties to controversial actions by the Internal Revenue Service the "most dangerous scandal in U.S. history." In 2012, she claimed that "Watergate was about a third-rate burglary" while Benghazi "is Watergate on steroids." Crowley, who is a Fox News contributor, once suggested Obama was lying about being black.
She wrote an August 6 piece for The Washington Times, where she is the online opinion editor, lionizing her former boss. Crowley wrote that Nixon "spent decades doing for his country, leaving behind a monumental and complicated legacy that changed the country and the world. He was a patriot and a true American original, whose brilliance and vision we desperately miss on the scene today." On Watergate, Crowley wrote that Nixon "could not speak without profound emotion and remorse."