GOP treachery in pursuit of power

Over the New Year’s weekend, the New York Times published an op-ed by John Farrell about Nixon’s Vietnam Treachery:

Trump-NixonRichard M. Nixon always denied it: to David Frost, to historians and to Lyndon B. Johnson, who had the strongest suspicions and the most cause for outrage at his successor’s rumored treachery. To them all, Nixon insisted that he had not sabotaged Johnson’s 1968 peace initiative to bring the war in Vietnam to an early conclusion. “My God. I would never do anything to encourage” South Vietnam “not to come to the table,” Nixon told Johnson, in a conversation captured on the White House taping system.

Now we know Nixon lied. A newfound cache of notes left by H. R. Haldeman, his closest aide, shows that Nixon directed his campaign’s efforts to scuttle the peace talks, which he feared could give his opponent, Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey, an edge in the 1968 election. On Oct. 22, 1968, he ordered Haldeman to “monkey wrench” the initiative. H.R. Haldeman’s Notes from Oct. 22, 1968.

The Times followed this up today with reporting from Peter Baker. Nixon Tried to Spoil Johnson’s Vietnam Peace Talks in ’68, Notes Show:

The Nixon campaign’s clandestine effort to thwart President Lyndon B. Johnson’s peace initiative that fall has long been a source of controversy and scholarship. Ample evidence has emerged documenting the involvement of Nixon’s campaign. But Mr. Haldeman’s notes appear to confirm longstanding suspicions that Nixon himself was directly involved, despite his later denials.

Nixon was the first in a series of Republican presidential candidates to engage a foreign power to sabotage U.S. policy to aid their presidential election. David Atkins writes at the Political Animal blog, If It’s Not Treason, What Do We Call It?

When Donald Trump takes the oath of office, it will mark the third time in the last half century the United States has installed a Republican president who allegedly worked with a hostile foreign power to sabotage American interests and the sitting U.S. president, in order to get himself elected. Read that sentence again slowly and consider the implications.

In 1968, Republican candidate Richard Nixon worked behind the scenes to scuttle Vietnam peace talks. Nixon knew that if the incumbent president LBJ agreed to terms with the South Vietnamese government, the resulting peace would benefit not only American soldiers in danger but also his Democratic opponent Hubert Humphrey. So Nixon’s camp sent private messages to the South Vietnamese promising better terms if they waited until he was elected president. When LBJ learned of the sabotage, recordings show that he described it as treason. Nixon won the election, and the Vietnam War continued for years afterward.

In 1980, Democratic president Jimmy Carter was dealing with the Iranian hostage crisis, in which 52 Americans were being held captive. On April 24th of that year, Carter attempted a daring rescue mission of the hostages. Had it succeeded Carter would have been hailed as a hero. But the mission’s failure led to a long slog of tense negotiations. There have been persistent allegations by Carter officials involved in the negotiations that Republican candidate Ronald Reagan’s team negotiated with the Iranians to delay the release of the hostages until after the election in order to hamstring President Carter in advance of the vote. Whatever the truth of these serious accusations, Iran deliberately chose to release the hostages on the day of Reagan’s inauguration as a political gift to the incoming Republican administration. The hostages were released in accordance with diplomatic concessions made by Carter’s team, not in fear of Reagan’s mythical prowess. The Reagan administration then proceeded to engage in secret arms deals with Iran–both in exchange for hostages in Lebanon and to fund murderous right-wing paramilitary death squads in Central America. [The Iran-Contra scandal.]

In 2016, the entire American intelligence community, alongside private cyber-security firms, have been unanimous in accusing Russian intelligence services of hacking the private communications of the Democratic National Committee and Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta–as well as over a dozen Democratic candidates for the House of Representatives. It was an electronic burglary of private campaign data that dwarfed the Watergate break-in by orders of magnitude. The resulting disproportionate media coverage of the released emails was crucial in helping to give Donald Trump a narrow electoral college victory, despite losing the popular vote by almost 3 million ballots.

We will not know the extent of the Trump campaign’s cooperation and involvement with this activity for months or even years. But we do already have some very disturbing facts. First and foremost, during his last press conference of the campaign Donald Trump explicitly asked Russia to hack 30,000 of Clinton’s emails (he later claimed to have only done it in jest.) There are reports that Russia has been cultivating Trump for years. There is the bizarre communication between a server in Trump tower and a Russian bank tied to the Kremlin that may or may not be innocent, but so far no one in the Trump organization has provided a credible explanation for it. Rather than condemn Russian interference in the election as it might have been wiser politically to do if he were the innocent beneficiary, Trump has taken the bizarre strategy of denying and minimizing it entirely. We know that Trump’s one-time campaign manager Paul Manafort worked for the Kremlin while living in Trump tower, and was only fired when the outrage over his Russian connections became too much to ignore. It’s possible that Trump is innocent in all this, but the preponderance of the evidence suggests otherwise.

Some, like LBJ back in 1968, have used “treason” to describe this sort of thing. However, the word “treason” has a very specific constitutional definition, and there are dire consequences to throwing the word around recklessly. What Nixon, Reagan and Trump are alleged to have done probably doesn’t rise to the Constitutional definition.

But if it’s not treason, we need a good word to describe this sort of unpatriotic, self-interested sabotage that seems increasingly commonplace on the part of Republican candidates for president.

It’s not just Republican candidates for President. Let’s not forget the Whitewater witch hunt and impeachment against President Bill Clinton by a Republican Congress, and the GOP plot to sabotage everything proposed by President Barack Obama and Democrats in Congress. Robert Draper Book: GOP’s Anti-Obama Campaign Started Night Of Inauguration, Frontline (PBS) The Republicans’ Plan for the New President, and The Party of No: New Details on the GOP Plot to Obstruct Obama.

Sir John Acton warned, “Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.” Authoritarian Tea-Publicans now have absolute power in the federal government (and many state governments). Americans are rightfully concerned about what is to come. As Paul Waldman warns,”The public didn’t really vote for wholesale ‘change.’ But that’s what they’re going to get.” An unpopular president. An unpopular program. Republicans call it a ‘mandate.’

As Betty Davis said in All About Eve, “Fasten your seatbelts, its going to be a bumpy night!

15 responses to “GOP treachery in pursuit of power

  1. John Huppenthal

    You couldn’t ask for a better science experiment on the value of a candidate than what happened in this election. It is just incredible that the odds markets were so far off. Trump was a total surprise, so the reaction of the stock market is a pretty exact measure of his value and the value of his proposed policies over and above Hillary’s value.

    An extra $2 trillion is pretty impressive because Hillary was being valued at $6.4 trillion over and above Obama. So, that puts Trump at $8.4 trillion. The whole market capitalization of China was only $8 trillion in 2015.

    I thought Trump would be the reincarnation of Herbert Hoover and I didn’t vote for him. It seemed to me that the only policy he really believed in was his trade policy.

    But, I was obviously wrong. When he did his little ethics tweet, he only mentioned tax reform and health care reform. Nary a mention of trade restrictions.

    As for your comments about Republican Presidents and the economy – the entire economic arc of the US, creating the equivalent of 53 million full time jobs was set by Ronald Reagan. Every president since has only damaged that arc but not destroyed it.

  2. John Huppenthal

    That may all be true but the most important vote took place in the stock market, listed stocks went up by 2 trillion dollars and that’s just in the United States. The Russian stock market went up 15%.

    Economic predictors turned out to beat all of the polls in this election. They were predicting a Trump victory. Right now, they are predicting a Trump reelection and an affirmative on his policies.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      How much of that 2 trillion dollars is on the street, Falcon9?

      None. None is the answer.

      Stocks going up do not help the economy. The middle class, and especially the poor, spending money as fast as they can moves the economy.

      Stocks going up, even in the 401k’s of the middle class, do not grow a consumer based economy. It’s called the velocity of money and it’s the force that creates jobs and moves the economy forward.

      Conservatives fail at running economies because they don’t understand them.

      Enjoy the last year or two of the Obama economy, and in two years or so, when the policies of Trump/Ryan have been baked in, check back in.

      • John Huppenthal

        Stocks are absolutely going to help the economy. Every retired policeman, fireman and teacher’s pension is tethered to a stock based retirement fund, most of which are 50% under water and, now that Trump is elected, are much more likely to secure that retirement – relieving the stress on overstressed states and cities.

        That’s just a small part of how they are going to help.

        The stock market is just a time machine – moving money from the future to the present. That 2 trillion is real wealth, available to corporations to invest in an expanding economy. It is a statement that the economy is going expand and create a return, it has to be spent and will be spent to make that expanded future, more jobs and more profits, happen.

        Now, it could go down the toilet, one really bad tweet, democrats successfully sabotaging that future, republicans could block tax reform.

        But, for now, it is alive and roaring.

  3. “An unpopular president. An unpopular program. Republicans call it a ‘mandate.’

    “Unpopular”? He received almost half the votes and draws huge crowds wherever he goes. “Unpopular program”? Which one? He receives wide spread support for virtually everything he has stated he wants to do. “A mandate”? Given that the GOP controls things up and down the ladder across the Country to a great extent, one can forgive them for getting a little giddy and over the top. If nothing else, it is a thorough rejection of the democrats at all levels of government.

    • For Sure Not Tom

      Justin Bieber draws far larger crowds wherever he goes. Justin Bieber does not have a mandate.

      The New York Yankees draw far larger crowds, most right-thinking American’s hate the Yankees. The Yankees do not have a mandate.

      Crowd size does not indicate a mandate. If it wasn’t for gerrymandering and voter suppression Trump’s numbers would be even worse.

      Trump won the electoral college by just 110,000 votes. The Indy 500 draws nearly three times that many people on raceday.

      He lost the popular vote by 2.8 million, he’s polling as the least popular PEOTUS ever, and his electoral “landslide” is actually the 46th worst out of 58.

      Losing the popular vote by 2.8 million, to someone most right-thinking American’s dislike intensely, Hillary Clinton, should inform you that the country leans Left.

      46th worst is not a mandate. Losing the popular vote by 2.8 million votes is not a mandate.

      Lots of people who voted for him admit they don’t like/trust him and don’t think he’ll do much of what he promised, they just hated Clinton more.

      Does that last part sound like anyone you know, Steve? 🙂

      • “Lots of people who voted for him admit they don’t like/trust him and don’t think he’ll do much of what he promised, they just hated Clinton more. Does that last part sound like anyone you know, Steve? :-)”

        Yep. It sounds just like me.

        You are correct in everything you said. But whatever the reasons, the GOP has the gavel in this country right now, and that means they can do what they think needs done.

        • For Sure Not Tom

          No, it means they can try to do what they think needs to be done.

          • Well, the GOP has been known to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory, so who knows. However, this time around they seem to have a different, more confident, tone and I suspect things may be different.

    • Frances Perkins

      In any other county on earth a 2.9 million vote deficit would say Clinton got a mandate. In this slave holder compromise nonsense a minority candidate gets elected.