Wow. The death of Ben Bradlee. We are all mortal.
Naturally, I disliked him very much for his harm to the ultimate peacemaker, Richard M. Nixon. But when I looked up Mr. Bradlee in Wikipedia (sometimes reliable, sometimes not), I was staggered by something that had long been lurking in my old brain and now becomes crystal clear. Two things, in fact.
First of all, I had always thought that the Beautiful People in the Northeast, Hollywood, and D.C. loathed Nixon because they thought he was way below their social station. After all, his first major target was a New England Blue Blood Communist spy, Alger Hiss of Harvard. When Nixon drew blood with that attack, the gauntlet was thrown down to avenge Mr. Hiss.
So, now I see that Ben Bradlee has about the fanciest pedigree that anyone I have ever seen on Wikipedia has had. Descended from European Royalty in about ten different ways. Heir to substantial wealth in New York and Boston. Boarded at St. Mark’s School, a super waspy redoubt. Harvard, naturally.
He fought bravely in World War II in many battles in the Pacific as an officer in Naval Intelligence. For that, he gets everlasting credit.
Right out of Harvard, he married a Saltonstall, of that ultra-waspy, high-toned Boston clan. He later married a Pinchot, also a super fancy family.
But, here comes the best part: he was a spook, a full-scale CIA operative for much of his life. He worked for the CIA in Europe and throughout the world. Now, they say he did PR work for the Agency, and why not? But in Washington, we have a saying: Once CIA, always CIA. So, once upon a time, a brilliant man named Fred Thompson wrote about how Watergate was a giant CIA-organized frame-up of Richard Nixon by CIA people who hated him.
Why did they hate him so much? Well, again, social class. The CIA is even more snobby that the Department of State, or used to be. The CIA people would have looked down their Brahmin noses at Richard Nixon, whose father operated a lemon farm. Plus, this was their chance to get back at a man who had wrecked the life of Alger Hiss.
But what I have always wondered about was the timing: the plot to get Nixon, if there was such a plot, it came about at the same time that Richard Nixon was opening China. This meant stalemating, then checkmating the Soviets in their quest for world domination. I am far from the first person who has suspected that the Soviets had a powerful cadre within the CIA doing their bidding. This brings me to point two: I wonder if the whole Watergate affair was set up by the CIA, and then information about it was dripped out to the Post and other entities to make sure RN was punished for encircling Mother Russia.
The fact that Mr. Bradlee was a CIA man (according to Wikipedia) makes me wonder how the gears actually worked inside the conspiracy to depose Richard Nixon. Was Bob Woodward a CIA agent? I have heard it said he was, but I surely don’t know. Who else was CIA?
Anyway, Mr. Nixon is deceased now and so is Mr. Bradlee and so will I be and life goes on but it would be nice to know just what roles the KGB and the CIA had in the media coup against Nixon. It is probably better to know if the KGB is running the country than to not know.
As for me, I am going to the grocery store to buy supplies for our little household. My wife is ill and we are running low.
It is a gorgeous night here in L.A. and I feel happy to be alive but I sure wish my wife were not so ill. That’s what really counts. My heart goes out to his widow. He was a brave sailor and served his nation courageously and losing your spouse at any age is unspeakably horrible.