BAD DAY FOR SNITCHES
Re: Ben Stein's Deep Throat and Genocide:
In eight concise paragraphs Ben Stein organized, with deadly clarity, the fragmented parts of my nagging certitiude that a terrible wrong was perpetrated when Richard Nixon was forced to resign. I hope Ben's words brought a smile to Mr. Nixon's lips.
-- Fred Ragusa
Freeport, New York
Re: Stein on Nixon, the greatest. We are not worthy! Luckily for me, I am very happily married to a very patient, tolerant and wonderful man, but, if I were a young filly and Ben Stein were not happily married to a wonderful woman with whom he has created a beautiful family... well, I would give him a run for his money. Love ya, Ben!!!
-- Gail Lammers
I never liked Nixon, but I think Stein's editorial about Watergate was exactly right. Woodward and Bernstein bragged in their famous book about violating the law to get the goods on Nixon, who supposedly violated the law. The extreme measures used against Nixon forever changed our country for the worse. The manufactured crisis made people distrust leaders and conspire to bring them down through malicious gossip and any tactic that worked. The invented horrors of Nixon's regime made conservatives ashamed of the GOP. The media went on a crusade to change America by crushing every conservative while elevating every left-wing radical (Jesse Jackson, McCain, and any other useful idiot).
The Cambodian genocide only made people even more hard-hearted about other genocides. I have no respect for Woodward and Bernstein. Like their anonymous source, they would violate any code of decency to advance their careers.
-- Gregory L. Jackson, Ph.D.
For years I thought this guy was a lightweight -- too human, not enough punch, comical. Boy was I wrong! One doesn't have to pompous, high-handed, or heavy-handed to swing a big bat. I give Mr. Stein my highest regard for his moral clarity and ability to distill complicated issues into their basic essence. He is a teller of truth. Smart to have him on your staff. He fits.
-- John D
This story is really amazing. Doesn't anyone in that creepy family have any shame? Hell hath no fury like a self-absorbed FBI agent scorned.
The greedy daughter is obviously pushing this thing for a book deal before the old coot kicks; the grandson, who is issuing idiotic press statements, wasn't even born when the event occurred, Carl Bernstein (bless his pointy little heart) has aced all of them out of his book deal, and the supposedly high brow Washington Post has been scooped by a glossy gossip rag.
Delicious. Quick... get Aaron Spelling on the phone... this is great stuff.
-- Barron Thomas
Ben says there is "no clue" as to the why of the Watergate burglary. Please Ben, read Silent Coup by Len Colodny and Robert Gittlen. The reason is there, heavily documented, in the chapter entitled "The Golden Boy."
Doesn't anyone wonder why John Dean has appeared to have changed sides?
-- A. Robinson
Once again you nailed it! Your wit and way of writing make you a best friend to many including me.
-- Chris Renegar
Yes, I can remember what Richard did that was so bad, but the sad thing is, G.W. Bush is doing a thousand times worse and nobody seems to be paying attention. However, I do not think he, like Nixon, can continue forever and I predict he will step out of bounds and receive the same fate. If you remember, many Republicans abhorred and voted against Nixon. So BEWARE!
After reading your comments about Mark Felt and what his treachery meant for Vietnam and Cambodia, I am forwarding this letter I wrote to columnist Richard Cohen of the Washington Post:
In your column, you call Mark Felt your "brave friend." Let me offer you a different perspective.
After nearly four years in Viet Nam as a reporter, I was in Saigon on April 29, 1975, the day we Americans sold out our Vietnamese allies and ran out of the country like dogs with our tails between our legs.
In mid-August of 1974, I filed a six-minute report for CBS News from Saigon, based on interviews with 15 senior American and South Vietnamese officers. It said that after a vote in Congress a week earlier to cut aid to the Saigon regime in half, it was no longer a question of whether the South would fall to North Vietnam but when. The ARVN's capacity and will to fight, I said, had been shattered.
The vote took place on August 5, 1974, when a Democrat from Georgia, John J. Flynt, urged the House to cut Saigon's projected aid from $1.4 billion to $700 million, "to send [President] Thieu a signal to negotiate." As Vo Nguyen Giap, the top North Vietnamese general said later in his memoirs, upon hearing of this, the Communist politburo advanced by one year its plans to launch a general offensive against the South.
The war could have ended with a settlement that would have preserved some room for the South after the "decent interval" that Nixon and Kissinger had sought following America's withdrawal.
Thanks to Mark Felt's treachery and the Washington Post, Richard Nixon resigned the presidency on August 9, four days after a vote betraying a people whom we had repeatedly promised "freedom and democracy." Nixon had been powerless to stop it. That betrayal hangs over us today in Iraq.
I stayed in Southeast Asia after the war as a staff reporter for CBS News. From the Thai-Cambodian border, I witnessed the holocaust, yes, that's right, holocaust in Cambodia. In countries around the South China Sea, I reported the death from drowning and piracy of hundreds of thousands of Vietnamese boat people. My reports on CBS about them persuaded the Carter Administration in 1979 to double from 7,000 to 14,000 the number of Vietnamese refugees admitted per month to the United States.
You claim that Felt was "brave" and acted from noble motives. Elsewhere in your own newspaper today, Dan Balz and R. Jeffrey Smith write that Felt was, uh, "conflicted and mum for decades."
"Felt may have had a personal motivation as well to begin talking to Post reporter Bob Woodward. At the time of Hoover's death, he was a likely successor to take over as FBI director. Instead the White House named a bureau outsider, L. Patrick Gray III, then an assistant attorney general, as acting director and then leaned on Gray to become a conduit to keep the White House informed of what the FBI was learning."
In less delicate words, Felt's motives were utterly petty: pique at being passed over for the top job. No wonder he kept his mouth shut for decades. This is your hero? Tim Noah, writing in Slate, says it best:
Mr. Cohen, literally millions of Southeast Asians were sacrificed -- and 58,152 American combat deaths rendered meaningless -- to satisfy the ambitions of your hero, Mark Felt, and the Washington Post.
Your praise for Felt, a traitor, and the Post's self-glorification fill me with revulsion and disgust.
-- Peter Collins
Bravo, Ben Stein and THANK YOU! I pray for Mark Felt, BW, Ben B. and all.
-- Jennifer "Oddball Taylor" Bartoli
Ben Stein's column on Deep Throat lacks intellectual consistency or, to put it more bluntly, simply doesn't make any sense.
1. Stein calls Nixon a peacemaker for ending the Vietnam War. His enemies are said to have brought "decades of death and hardship for the people of Vietnam" for ending the Vietnam War. We are talking about the same war here, aren't we?
2. Stein says Nixon would never have allowed the genocide in Cambodia. Presumably he means Nixon would have invested his moral authority in convincing the American people to authorize an intervention on humanitarian grounds. Oops, Nixon was too busy with third-rate burglaries and related cover-ups to invest moral authority in anything. Not only did he squander his own, but in a weird sort of deficit spending, seems to have spent in advance a good chunk of that belonging to his next six successors.
None of this is meant to dispute Stein's main point, that Mark Felt is a gutless and deceitful snake.
-- Glen Hoffing
Shamong, New Jersey
Thank goodness for these observations! I have never understood what Nixon's crime was -- except that he was a threat to the press and the communists' agenda. Thank you, Ben!!
Your comments on Richard Nixon, who in this man's humble opinion, was one of our greatest leaders, were a most welcome respite from the usual demagoguery. It was a well-reasoned and logical assessment of what was and could have been, and what did not come to pass, and what did come to pass as a result of the misguided quest of a few liberal elitists quest for revenge and personal glory. Unfortunately the liberal elitists have neither the attention span, nor the ability, to comprehend well-reasoned, and logical assessments. What I tell my liberal acquaintances (I can no longer be friends with such people) when they bemoan poor mistreated Bill Clinton, is this; Richard Nixon used the power of his office to protect his friends, while Bill Clinton used his friends to protect his power while in office. I then ask, so who is the most honorable man? They just usually skulk away with angry looks at me for having dared to speak the truth. Thanks for opining eloquent, it has made my day.
Real guts and truth-telling by Ben Stein. And, as an ardent Zionist myself, I admire his use of Eretz Israel, to designate the Jewish homeland.
Ya'asher koach, Ben.
-- Harvey Finkelstein, M.D.
The thing I liked most about Nixon was that he tripled my pay as a poor Marine Lance Corporal.
His problem, of course, is that he was a Republican.
-- Mark Delles
Nixon the Peacemaker? You've got to be kidding, unless you want to call the infamous line "change the skin color of the corpses" that summed up "Vietnamization" peacemaking. How about "benign neglect" of racial inequality as the core of the "Southern Strategy"? Watergate was just a few fibs? Nobody really knows what G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt and the "plumbers" where up to when they shifted their black bag opts from the left to the offices of the Democratic Party? It's just fine with you if a President has his own secret ex-agent hit squad? And you guys think that you're libertarians or investigative reporters of some sort? Give me a break.
-- Carl Davidson
National Leader of SDS, 1966-68
Mr. Stein said: "...who were covering up a ridiculous burglary that no one to this date has any clue about its purpose."
The book Silent Coup by Len Colodny and Robert Gettlin asserted that: "...The thesis of this intriguing investigation of Watergate is that the break in was actually meant to cover up embarrassing information about John Dean's wife."
They assert that John Dean's wife, Maureen, was involved in a call girl ring operated out of the DNC headquarters. The burglary was aimed at either exposing an embarrassment or protecting Dean's wife. The book is quite plausible and well footnoted.
I think that Nixon was one of our better presidents. But one should remember that half of American deaths in Vietnam were during the Nixon years. And the peace agreement that he signed in '73 was the same agreement that was "on the table" in 1968 peace talks. And what ended the war was when North Vietnam wouldn't sign the peace agreement in '73, so Nixon lifted all bombing restriction on the north, better known as the "Christmas bombing," something they should of done years before.
It is altogether fitting that a disgruntled public servant who was turned down for higher office, a person who violated his oath of office and who treacherously sought to undermine his commander in chief, a person who walked the streets of life living a lie, should have been named for a notorious prostitute.
-- Sarsfield Matthews
This is wonderful --- Thank you. Telling the truth should not be an act of courage, but sadly, today it is such an act.
Mr. Stein is a bright star in a very dark sky. Please express our appreciation to him.
-- Bob Hamlett
Another great article by Ben Stein. How long is it going to take before the American public finally gets it? Politicians and most of the media can't be trusted. I find it very suspicious that all this hoopla about Deep Throat has come to light now. The media is very picky and choosey. Who cares who Deep Throat is? I certainly don't. I do care why Sandy Berger was found with confidential papers in his pants and it was hushed up by the media. We will probably never find out the truth about that fiasco because the media is going to cover for him. Mr. Berger got a slap on the wrist and I find that to be a slap in the face of the American public. Sorry -- my idea of a hero will never be found in politics or in Washington, D.C. The media can keep making up their stories to suit their own agenda but sooner or later hopefully it will come back to haunt them. They are losing readers and listeners now and it will get worse. Thank goodness for straight thinking Ben Stein.
Thank you for your eloquence. You are a true patriot and a friend to all who truly knew the method of RN's "madness," his Kharma and his vision. My father came home because of RN.
Thank you again,
After 30 years, Ben Stein's statement about bringing Nixon down leading directly to the genocide in Southeast Asia should not be profound anymore. The tragedy of America is that it still is both surprising and controversial to utter that simple truth. Thank you, Ben Stein.
-- Will Carter
Regarding Deep Throat, I remember during the great Watergate crusade our liberal friends were always telling the rest of us that the President of the United States is not above the law. Perhaps we should amend that to say that Republican presidents are not above the law. When the Clintons came along, it was fascinating to watch society's best and brightest successfully defend them--in some cases, the defenders were heroes (?) from the Watergate era.
-- John Lockwood
Mr. Stein asserts that the downfall of President Nixon brought about "The assumption of power in Cambodia by the bloodiest government of all time, the Khmer Rouge, who killed a third of their own people."
The Soviets under Lenin and Stalin, the communist Chinese under Mao-Tse Tung and the Third Reich under Adolph Hitler killed far more people, both individually and collectively than the Khmer Rouge.
-- Jim Carn
Great article by Ben Stein. My only disagreement would be about his statement that nobody has a clue about why the burglary was conducted. After reading the book Silent Coup the easy and probably correct conclusion is the John Dean set it up to try to capture the little black call ring book, allegedly with his future wife's name in it.
-- Don DeVan
Thank you for an excellent article and placing in print the feelings of many of us that saw Richard M. Nixon as other than the villain he has been portrayed as being.
-- E. Boone
As a former long-haired Vietnam war protester, thank you Mr. Stein for some adult perspective on this sad chapter in American history.
-- Terry Maloney
Thanks, Ben, for an excellent article. You left out one legacy of this mess: Jimmy Carter.
-- Felton Suthon
Thanks for putting our lying politicians in proper perspective. Brilliant!!!
Mr. Stein is certainly entitled to his opinions. I don't share them and think this article sucks.
So... Clinton wasn't a peacemaker? Who cares if he was a weed-smoking fornicator! In fact, that stereotype goes along perfectly with his forward-minded, peace-loving ways.
Besides, Nixon was conniving, too.
Well and appropriately said. Incidentally, one of the minor regrets of my life is that I never had a shot at taking some of your money.
-- Don Beeth
Your article hit the nail on the head... and I regret to say that I did not vote for President Nixon at the time. Thank you,
-- Bob Ginn
I hold a security clearance and like anyone with a clearance, I have been warned that jail time awaits me if I divulge classified information. Is that standard going to be applied to Mark Felt? These days it does not seem to apply to anyone who blabs to the press (Gitmo Koran, etc.).
-- Chris B.
How true you are. It was a pleasure reading your article. Felt's family is exposing a 91-year-old man for money. Felt himself knew what he did was criminal and probably because he was passed up for Director of the FBI. He had a motive to hurt Nixon and 35 years later the family wants to cash in. Nixon basically was an honorable man who loved his country. When one examines the Nixon years compared to the Clinton years the only conclusion would have Clinton behind bars. Mainstream media is having an orgy with this story but this is not 35 years ago. The American people have too many resources before them now and question the likes of a Bob Woodward or a Dan Rather. Mainstream media should take note of how much power they have lost in the past 35 years and where they are going from here. Bob Woodward, Walter Cronkite, Dan Rather, Peter Jennings and the liberal bias agenda to harm a Republican President at all cost is no longer the force it was. Like I said, it was a pleasure reading your article.
-- Rick Reynolds
Mr. Stein is kidding, correct?
"Can anyone even remember now what Nixon did that was so terrible? He ended the war in Vietnam, brought home the POW's, ended the war in the Mideast, opened relations with China, started the first nuclear weapons reduction treaty, saved Eretz Israel's life, started the Environmental Protection Administration. Does anyone remember what he did that was bad?"
He asks this in his recent article. He seems to be asking it seriously. Then, going on to announce how Nixon was simply "a liar." And trumping up (unlike Nixon's) unproven accusations on other past Presidents.
What did Nixon do? He broke the oath of Office. Is it something that we SHOULD simply wave around and say "Oh well" about? Something that we should ignore and skip over?
Because it would seem that that oath means painfully little to Mr. Stein, and how am I supposed to take him seriously then, for his own writing?
Is saying "Others have done this" a good reason to ignore a total disregard for the American people?
How sad, then, that we are going to pick and choose when to apply it.
-- S. Janifer
So why do you call Mr. Stein's article a "Special Report"? It doesn't contain one iota of new information. All the reader hears is Mr. Stein's monotone voice droning on about the same old thing Nixon lovers love to drone on about. A waste of cyberspace, this.
-- Kevin Dwyer
I have always argued for Nixon, in relation to ending the Vietnam War while in term. Thank goodness today for alternative sources of information, outside of CBS, NBC and ABC; because I never heard anyone else defend Nixon.
I am guessing this is coming out now for monetary reasons only. I guarantee that I will not be a person who will contribute money to Felt's family for betraying not just Nixon, but our country as well.
-- Ann B. Dudoussat
Thank the Lord for Ben Stein. He got it right.
How is it that Ben Stein can degrade all the Democratic Presidents and not Nixon the liar, the racist, and associate of criminals like G. Gordon Liddy, Charles Colson, Robert Haldeman, and John Dean. Oh, they would have escaped judicial punishment if Mark Felt didn't break his ethics rule.
Nixon is also a known associate of drug addict Rush Limbaugh.
How the criminals flock together.
Ben needs to write an article on the evil of politics and the criminals it makes both of Democrats and Republicans.
-- Arthur Conejo
Ben Stein's article smacks of perverse thinking and outright distortions found among the fundamentalist deaf. Nixon was an intelligent, but paranoid, bigoted pol, who precipitated Watergate and its corrosive activities amongst a group of power hungry agents, in and out of government. He did good, but the bad far outweighed his accomplishments.
Bravo, Ben Stein, bravo. This old fool still should be brought up on charges of treason. But the left will make him a martyr. I'm so sick of these liberal left socialists.
-- Michael A. Colello Sr.
Las Vegas, Nevada
I am confident Ben Stein is right about the fate of Felt, Woodward, et al. I am a great believer in divine justice, for it is visited upon me all the time, for my various and tawdry transgressions.
-- Paul Kotik
I enjoyed Ben's article as I've been enjoying his latest book, but it would be appropriate to mention at the bottom that he was a Nixon speechwriter and lawyer.
-- Larry D. Larsen
The Poynter Institute for Media Studies
The Editor replies:
So no Pulitzer for us this year?
Wlady's Pleszczynski's Spinning Danica:
There are other famous NASCAR drivers that specialized in "taking out others" to get ahead. Dale Earnhardt used to get real close to the car ahead to shut off the airflow coming under the car, causing it to loose traction and spin. He called it "racing hard"! It caused a lot of bad feelings, but the racetracks never did much about it.
I've got some friends that sponsor a couple of cars for short track. I was a spectator in the pits where the "real feelings are felt" when one of their driver buddies on another team is "nudged" into the wall doing 180 mph. At first they thought he was dead. It took about an hour to get him out of his car. And he was air-lifted to the hospital. He made it.
My friends had their car nudged into the wall by the guy behind a "Dale Earnhardt wannabe." Their driver was really irritated that he was taken out on purpose and was told "tough" by the track people.
In the old days, when I was a kid, I went to the races in Chicago. There was a lot of action. The races of today are finely tuned affairs; all of the cars are the same. Who wins is based on skill and who wasn't nudged to spin to get a little action going to wake up the fans!
My two cents. Keep up the great work.
-- John Beierwaltes
Not sure how much you know about auto racing, but accidents happen. Period. Dumb or not, they happen. A driver doesn't get thrown out or disqualified! Possibly we could all take a deep breath, check the rules, ask the drivers, ask Tony George, and then move forward. I do agree that the hype surrounding the lady driver was a bit much. But then again, if I were in charge I would increase the hype to forever. If it brings more bodies to the events. Who could complain? Gents and ladies, start your engines.
Well put, Wlady. I think Patrick has plenty of racing talent, but she also lacks experience. That fact manifested itself in the "go to green" spin and the stall in the pits. Plenty of great drivers have done the same, but as you said so clearly, they weren't let off the hook so quickly.
-- Steve Coomes
It's refreshing to see that some in the non-motorsport media have begun to notice and report that the imperial Indy 500 is now missing its clothes. Track owner (by inheritance) Tony George in a string of financially self-destructive and egomaniacal decisions and maneuvers has nearly destroyed an American institution. The fact that the rookie-mistake-filled 4th place finish of a talented young woman in a car 100lbs lighter than the next heaviest competitor garnered more press and Speedway attention than the talented but virtually unknown Dan Wheldon who merely won the race is but a symptom of Indy's demise.
George's egomaniacal compulsion to control every aspect of the race lead him to create a new sanctioning body that locked out veteran racers. In recent years, the squandering of his considerable inheritance in an unsuccessful attempt to run the former sanctioning body (now known as Champ Car, previously CART) out of business has resulted in rewarding him in each year since its creation a barely noticeably larger slice of a notably smaller pie. As the situation stands now, there is a real possibility there may only be one engine manufacturer in next year's race -- and Tony George may have to buy engines from them to keep the cars running.
Even stronger evidence of the Brickyard's decline could be seen on Sunday when visiting Champ Car points leader Bruno Junqueira was seriously injured in a crash caused when a wholly incompetent (and judging by his interview after the wreck, possibly mentally challenged) grandson of A.J. Foyt running 30-40 mph slower than anyone else on the track turned into the back tire of Bruno's car after he was already 80% past him. Foyt IV was only in the race because basically only 33 drivers showed up for 33 slots -- and as a personal favor of George's to the sadly washed up original A.J. Foyt, who was one of the early sellouts to Tony's new sanctioning body.
The ascendancy of NASCAR (where purpose-built race cars impersonate 30-year-old production car shapes and technology) and the engineering and technological marvels that are present-day Formula 1 cars (900+HP from 3.0 liter non-turbocharged engines running at nigh on 20,000 RPM) have been more than happy to fill the space in racing fandom as the Indy 500 continues its decline into obscurity. It's a decline that never needed to happen.
-- Chris Doyon
Just read your column regarding Danica Patrick. For whatever reason, women who show a spark of talent get incredible pressure put on them to win right out of the box. I saw this happen first hand here in Nashville three years ago with a driver named Deborah Renshaw. She was in her second season as a driver in the late model division at Fairgrounds Speedway at Nashville and was showing some promise. (Larry Woody, of the Nashville Tennessean newspaper, almost always had the boilerplate "the first women to lead the points standings at the Fairgrounds" in his many columns about her.) She'd finished in the top five a couple of times, and basically because of some poor finishes by her competitors, did share the points lead one week. But she'd improved quite a bit over the previous year, in which her learning curve was littered with tens of thousands of dollars worth of wrecked cars.
In a sad show of "sportsmanship," one driver entered a sham car in a race with the express intent of finishing behind Renshaw. That way, that driver could protest her car, which at the very least would cost her team a few thousand bucks to reassemble the engine. Her car was found to be technically illegal and she was disqualified. This link has some info on that, as does this one.
Renshaw ran a few more races that summer, but wasn't really competitive. But, the national attention she got from the press coverage resulted in her getting a ride in an ARCA car. (Think of ARCA as NASCAR's single A league.) She showed promise, running well in a few races (daddy's money bought a quality ride, and in ARCA the adage "money buys speed" is certainly true).
But the pressure was on. You say in your article "Thanks to these gender obsessions, entirely forgotten is that motor racing like no other sport requires dicing with death." Deborah Renshaw could be the poster child for that statement.
In practice for an ARCA event in Charlotte in October 2002, Renshaw was on the track when another car in front of her wrecked. By all accounts, Renshaw was "several" seconds behind Eric Martin when he wrecked. She crashed into Martin's car on the driver's side door, killing Martin. (From thatsracin.com, via Google's cached view.)
Renshaw suffered a broken leg (if memory serves) and was out of racing for a while. Last year, she's got a part-time ride in NASCAR's Craftsman Truck Series, and is racing full time in the series this year. Again, she's in great equipment, but her results don't show it; her best finish is 20th.
She's a good example of someone who's gotten too much attention due to her gender. Perhaps when a female race driver finally wins a race, the media will stop obsessing on their gender and just report what happened on the track (I know, I can dream).
-- Glen Harness
Here in the metro Chicago area, the Danica Patrick story accelerated into obsession among the local newspaper outlets (I don't watch television, but I'm sure it wasn't much different there). I rationalized the phenomenon as a good story.
More interesting to me was Danica Patrick as analog for Hillary Clinton '08. Watch for it.
-- Bob Kunz
Fox River Grove, Illinois
Re: Jed Babbin's EU on Wry With Malaise:
It would appear that perhaps the greatest beneficiaries of France's "non" vote are Republican Americans. In the same way that the much-cherished American Constitution binds its Federal authority and strengthens Washington, so the rejection of a Federal EU vision weakens Brussels and ultimately will put a dent in the EU macro economy and deny it Superpower status. Disgruntled French unionists and new-Fascists came out in force to proclaim a resounding "no" to Europe -- however they will eventually become the unemployed victims of the fallout from a Titanic transatlantic trade dispute won by America with a little help from Britain, not to mention Peter Mandelson.
-- Rupert Eden
Re: David Hogberg's Veto-Proof Highway Robbery:
For all the Sturm und Drang of the 2004 elections, who would have thought that President Bush would be reduced to a Lame Duck by Memorial Day. In hindsight who should be surprised. The President has fed at the trough of the taxpayer for 4 years, and it is certain that Congress intends to feed there until the last bitter cent is gone. The President's options are limited; however, he has one up his sleeve: The Bully Pulpit.
-- Jerome Koch
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