Strong Man, Straw Dog and the FoxNews Circus

A lot of people believe, as Joe Biden recently said, that Sarah Palin and her running mate John McCain are going “over the edge” in a desperate attempt to assassinate Barack Obama’s character.  Biden and other critics specifically cite the frenzied calls at Palin-McCain rallies to “kill” the “terrorist” Obama – calls for violence that go unheard by the sleepy Secret Service.

In response, Palin and McCain cite Obama’s “attacks” on “hardworking middle class Americans,” code words that transform fascism, racism and religious fanaticism into righteousness.  Their allies in government (like the Secret Service) tacitly turn a blind eye; they commit no overt acts to further the Palin-McCain conspiracy but advance it through sins of omission.

Indeed, as America sinks deeper in the morass of the Wall Street meltdown, the Republican Party finds invisibility a virtue.  Look around their rabid rallies and nowhere will you see any sign of its amoral leader for the last eight years, the washed-up and universally despised George W Bush.

In the maelstrom of freewheeling capitalism and mass murder Bush engendered, mere mendacity, however, is a minor sin.  Palin-McCain exhortations that Obama is untruthful about his associations with “domestic terrorists” are repeated every day as “news” by the mainstream media, while the frothing mouthpiece of the Republican Party, Fox News, broadcasts 24/7 the Big Lie that Barack “Hussein” (Palinesque wink and wiggle) Obama is really a Communist Muslim born in Africa who seeks to destroy America.

Soon Fox will certainly unearth documentary evidence of his membership in Al Qaeda.

It’s pathetic the way the mindless Republican hordes fall prey to Palin-McCain fear-mongering.  But violence has its greatest appeal to “the silent majority” in hard times, and nothing is quite as American as visiting death and destruction upon the enemy within.

Back in the 1960s there will still signs that said, “Nigger, Don’t Let the Sun Set on You in,” say, “Arizona,” where McCain opposed a national holiday for Dr Martin Luther King, Jr, ostensibly because King called the US government “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world today.”

King got his holiday, after being assassinated, and McCain remains “a great purveyor.”

The murder and mayhem incited by Palin-McCain at their lynch mob rallies even has mainstream hack David Gergen saying, “There is a free-floating sort of whipping-around anger that could really lead to some violence.  And I think we’re not far from that.”


David Brooks, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times, is “appalled” by Palin-McCain Black Shirt tactics and recently described Palin, a working class heroine in the minds of many deluded individuals, as a “fatal cancer to the Republican party.”

Maybe so.  Then again, maybe Palin will incite some James Earl Ray wanna-be to kill Obama, thus solving all the Republican part’s current problems?

In any case, Brooks’ use of the word “cancer” is no accident, and harkens back to March 1973, when President Nixon’s erstwhile legal counsel, John Dean, famously said, in reference to the brewing Watergate scandal, that there was a “cancer” growing within the White House.

Unlike cancer, the meaning of Watergate is open to interpretation.   For Dean, it means the June 1972 break-in and telephone bugging of Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.   In his 2004 book, Worse than Watergate, Dean claimed that when it comes to lies and cover-up, the Bush regime makes the Nixon administration look like amateurs.  Lies and cover-ups are still the Republican strong suit, he admits, but they are worse today because Nixon’s was a petty crime which pales in comparison to the Bush Regime deceiving the world about 9/11 and using it to justify an unnecessary war in Iraq.

This seems a very limited interpretation and many of us consider the Watergate scandal more than a petty crime.  We see it as a symbolic validation of the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements.  We cannot separate Watergate from racism and the Vietnam War, just as we cannot separate Bush and Iraq.

Watergate, we know, led to the investigation and disgrace of the CIA, FBI and military, all of which conspired with the Nixon White House in an all-out right-wing assault (including murder) on the rights of all Americans.  Nothing like that ever came from the Left.

Ultimately, for anyone involved in the Anti-War or Civil Rights movements of the 1960’s, Watergate was the culmination of a culture war that has been revived by Bush, advanced by Fox News, and taken to its logical extreme by Palin and McCain.

The Straw Man

Working for Fox News is a curse, if you wish others to take you seriously.  To work for Fox is to condemn yourself to the sideshow in the carnival, along with Snake Boy, the Bearded Lady, Table Top Joe, and the famous mistakes of nature featured on Fox News: Bill “The Human Vibrator” O’Reilly, Sean “Hermaphrodite” Hannity, and Ann “Fly Trap” Coulter.

One such Fox freak, James Rosen, has written a book that purports to be a scholastic work about Watergate.  Titled The Strong Man: John Mitchell and the Secrets of Watergate, it is over 600 pages long – and reads like it were 10,000.

I crossed paths with Rosen a few years ago while researching my new book on the CIA’s usurpation of federal drug law enforcement during the Watergate era.  Rosen and I were both speaking with E. Howard Hunt, the veteran CIA officer and pathological liar convicted of organizing the Watergate break-in.   During this period I learned that Rosen, in the early 1990s, had gotten a grant from William F. Buckley to begin working on the Mitchell biography.  Buckley, it should be noted, was Hunt’s CIA partner in Mexico in the early 1950s.

Although born and raised in the Coney Island neighborhood of Brooklyn, where he apparently developed his fondness for sideshows and mutants, Rosen adopted Buckley’s class affectations and traded off his patron’s right wing contacts like Hunt.   The result is that Rosen is now Fox’s premier “war on terror” correspondent and Playboy’s resident scholar on Watergate.  Pretentious to a fault, like Buckley, Rosen even asserts that The Washington Post was “extraneous” to the outcome of Watergate, as were Woodward and Bernstein.

If that doesn’t give you a sense of Rosen’s scholasticism, consider that he makes his money at Fox by painting Bush regime war criminals like Condoleezza Rice in flattering colors.  The geek has no shame at all, and in Strong Man he pours lipstick with a fire hose on Mitchell.  The result is nauseating.  Voted the funniest celebrity in Washington, Rosen had me holding my stomach and vomiting into a barf bag as he presented beady-eyed AG as a champion of civil rights and a super-hero fighting anti-war subversives.

Anyone who was alive and aware in the 1960’s knows that Mitchell was a Wall Street bond lawyer whom Nixon chose as his campaign manager in 1968.  (Written before the recent financial calamity, Strong Man argues that the denizens of Wall Street are paragons of virtue.)  Nixon was so grateful after stealing the election that he made Mitchell his first attorney general, a job Mitchell had no training or talent for.  In 1972 Nixon put Mitchell in charge of his re-election committee (CREEP) and set Mitchell as a collision course with the Watergate scandal.

Nixon loved Mitchell so much that he let him take the fall in the cover-up, and Mitchell has the distinction of being the highest US government official to serve prison time.

Rosen, like Nixon, is infatuated with Mitchell, and for equally perverse and exploitive reasons.  But Mitchell, a fat Wall Street lawyer, was too boring to rate a book to himself.  So Rosen’s bloated book isn’t really about Mitchell at all.  It’s about revising history.

As Rosen once boasted, “Wilde said that our lone duty to history is to continually rewrite it.”  And Rosen does his re-writing by the shovel full.

Those of who were there know that Mitchell led the domestic war against civil rights demonstrators and anti-war protestors.  Mitchell hated us with a vengeance and, according to Rosen, rightfully so!   You can feel Rosen trembling with glee as he quotes Mitchell comparing us to “another group of civilians who roamed the streets of Germany in the 1920s bullying people, shouting down those who disagreed with them and denying other people their civil rights.  They were called Hitler’s Brown Shirts.”

Talk about turning mortgage debt and junk bonds into gold!  As we all knew back then, Mitchell and his felonious minions at Justice were the proudest bald headed fascists of the day.  But Rosen is undeterred by fact and, by his account (hold your barf bag near) Mitchell also single-handedly desegregated the South’s public schools.  Negro and Negro-loving white community organizers played no significant role whatsoever.

Think that’s bad?  Well, it gets worse.

Revising Watergate for Modern Consumption

Although Rosen admits that Mitchell’s role in the Watergate bugging and cover-up “is indisputable,” he claims that Mitchell was “framed” by a “wicked alliance” of co-conspirators “eager to tell lies.”  Which brings us to Rosen’s “call girl” conspiracy theory, in which John Dean ordered the Watergate burglary and the CIA, under Democrat Richard Helms, assisted.

What, inquiring people ask, is the “call girl” theory?

According to Rosen, it’s the fact that employees at the Democratic National Committee “were assisting in getting the Democrats connected with the prostitutes at the Columbia Plaza.”  And John Dean bugged the Watergate because his wife Maureen was one of the calls girls!

According to Rosen, “Dean’s unique knowledge of all the players and their complex interconnections…makes him the only logical answer in the three-decades-old mystery of …who among the president’s men pressured Jeb Magruder [Mitchell’s deputy at CREEP] to send [Howard Hunt’s partner, G. Gordon] Liddy and his team back into the DNC.”

“This is not your father’s Watergate,” Rosen quips.

No, it definitely is not.  It’s The X-Files meets Desperate Housewives.  Or, as John Dean says about Rosen, “I will probably deal with him in court.  His material, to put it mildly, is bullshit.”

History as It Was

Rosen the Straw Man really hates John Dean and anything that smacks of civil rights or anti-war liberalism.  Then again, what else would one expect from a Fox News geek?

Rosen’s hatred of Dean and love of Mitchell is steadfast in the face of the awful truth.  The major fact being that Mitchell approved G. Gordon Liddy’s Gemstone Plan to subvert George McGovern’s 1972 campaign through black bag jobs, assassination, kidnapping, rumor mongering and any other means necessary.  Liddy, who enjoyed eating the heads off of living rats (not to prove his strength, but because he liked the taste), presented Mitchell with his plan in January 1972.   As the top law enforcement officer in America, Mitchell had the legal imperative to Just Say No.  If he had been half the circus Strong Man Rosen pretends, fat flabby Mitchell would have kicked Liddy out of his office.

But Nixon’s moral compass showed his true colors and agreed to Liddy’s crazy plan, thus giving the world Watergate and Rosen something to re-write about.

The other sad fact is that Mitchell was unscrupulous and corrupt, and narrowly dodged a charge that he and Nixon’s Commerce Secretary helped Robert Vesco (a drug smuggler fugitive living under the DEA’s nose in Costa Rica) with the Securities and Exchange Commission, after Vesco made a secret $200,000 cash contribution to Nixon’s 1972 presidential campaign. The SEC, notably, was then chaired by former OSS spy William Casey, later Reagan’s DCI.  (People rarely realize that the CIA is more closely allied with Wall Street than the it is to The White House.)  Vesco was acquainted with Nixon’s brothers, Edward and Donald, and the latter’s son worked as Vesco’s bagman to CREEP. After the payoff, Mitchell immediately connected Vesco’s emissary to Casey.

Rosen also fails to mention that Mitchell approved the CIA’s infiltration of the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.  BNDD Director John Ingersoll told me that someone asked him to participate in the Watergate cover-up.  Ingersoll had two friends in the Nixon Administration – Mitchell and Dean – but he wouldn’t say which one it was.

Mitchell has also been linked to mobster Jimmy Hoffa and the Teamsters, wing nut Howard Hughes, and mob activities at the same Vegas casinos where McCain feels compelled to play craps.

Truth be told, Mitchell got off easy when in the fall in 1974 he was indicted on charges of conspiracy, perjury and obstruction of justice.  He was convicted of suborning his CREEP deputy’s perjured testimony before the Watergate grand jury.

Mitchell went to prison without complaining that he was framed.   He never corrected the false notion that he commanded John F. Kennedy during World War II, or the “bogus suggestion that he played hockey for the New York Rangers.”

It was as if he knew that a false Messiah like Rosen would one day come along and pretend that all the charges against him were Lies!  Damned Lies!

Like Nixon would say, “And Bush is not a war criminal.”
Rosen spent 17 years sifting through the evidence and carefully discarding anything that pointed at Mitchell.   What remains in Strong Man is as credible as the barrage of partisan distortions one hears daily, hourly, minute-by-endless minute on Fox News.  And by mutating John Mitchell from a villain into a victim, James Rosen has proven himself a carnival act worthy of inclusion in the right wing-nut hall of shame.

DOUGLAS VALENTINE is the author of four books which are available at his websites and His fifth book, The Strength of the Pack: The Politics, Personalities and Espionage Intrigues That Shaped The DEA, will be published in September 2009 by Trine Day.


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Douglas Valentine is the author of The Strength of the Wolf: The Secret History of America’s War on Drugs, and The Strength of the Pack: The Personalities, Politics, and Espionage Intrigues that Shaped the DEA.