In the 1972 presidential campaign, President Nixon was overwhelmingly re-elected thanks to his “Plumbers,” Nixon’s infamous dirty tricks team that was exposed at Watergate. The team, which was tied directly to the White House, consisted of E. Howard Hunt, G. Gordon Liddy, CIA liason John Paisley, James McCord, Donald Segretti, and who one knows how many others. It broke into Daniel Ellsburg’s office. It broke into the Democratic Headquarters offices in Watergate to search for strategy documents and anything that might give Nixon’s campaign an advantage. It even engaged in a program of disinformation to confuse and mislead supporters of Democratic rivals. As one example, it stole letterhead from the Edmund Muskie campaign and used it to create a letter falsely maligning other leading Democrats. It announced Muskie campaign rallies unknown to the Democratic candidate in order to anger the supporters who showed up. It sent out phony press releases announcing changes in the start times of campaign events and more.
All of this gave credence to Nixon’s long-standing moniker “Tricky Dick.” The dirty tricks and their cover-up are what eventually forced Nixon from office under threat of impeachment.
Apparently, the success of Nixon’s Plumbers has had an indelible influence on the party. At very least, the Nixonian mentality lives on through a never-ending stream of lies and political paybacks. Indeed, it seems the motto of the GOP has become WWND (What Would Nixon Do). The Nixonian approach manifested itself in the Southern Strategy masterminded by Lee Atwater…a strategy designed to capitalize on the anger of racist Southerners outraged by the Voting Rights Act of 1964. It was honed in the 1980s by the “Three Amigos” of Grover Norquist, Ralph Reed and Jack Abramoff using Nixon’s “take no prisoners” approach to politics as leaders of the Young Republicans and, later, as leaders of the GOP.
During the George W. Bush administration, Richard “The Dick” Cheney displayed his mastery of Nixon tactics through a campaign of lies and threats in order to justify the invasion of Iraq. In 2008, Sen. McCain and Sarah Palin based their bid for the White House on a substantial portfolio of lies and deception. So, too, did Gov. Romney and Rep. Paul Ryan in 2012.
So when Governor Chris Christie’s political team and top aides closed access to the world’s busiest bridge, they were not only engaging in political payback. They were paying homage to the master…Tricky Dicky.
For the GOP and its Tea Party Parasites, this attack style of politics permeates every level and virtually every action. You could see it on the NRC website during the 2000 election cycle when the party published stupid quotes from Dan Quayle but reattributed them to Al Gore as “Gore Gaffes.” You can see it in the vile bumper stickers and Tea Party signs demeaning President Obama. You can see it in the vicious lies circulated from one conservative numbskull to another through seemingly endless chain emails. You can even see it in relatively innocuous, but demeaning dirty tricks such as the one I received the other day. I was emailed a 1950s-era photo of “Miss Lube Rack,” a pretty young woman in a bathing suit surrounded by gas station servicemen. The caption proclaimed the photo to be one Nancy D’Alesandro (Pelosi) although it wasn’t. The email served no other purpose than to demean the Congresswoman and former Speaker of the House.
You can say that this sort of thing happens both ways. But it doesn’t. Yes, there are isolated incidents of lies and missteps by Democratic candidates. But those don’t remotely compare to the pervasive, concerted efforts to trick and decieve by the GOP. And you can be sure that they will continue as long as the party believes they work.