The Moment of Truth — August 7, 1999

Nixon’s Foreign Policy

Hello, I’m mejeffdorchen, and welcome to the Moment of Truth. The one moment of broadcast journalism that doesn’t make me sick to my stomach.

Let me begin by slamming WBEZ’s Jerome McDonnell. On his show, Worldview, he was discussing the tardy Senate confirmation of Richard Holbrooke as Ambassador to the UN. Holbrooke, a man of whom the chairman of that National Press Club once said, “Mr Holbrooke’s critics have criticized his methods as Machiavellian. But his goals certainly are not.” Jerome was talking to one of his regular sources, an editor from one of those great bastions of independent political thinking like the Chicago Tribune or Newsweek. Jerome is really interested in giving us a take on the day’s events that we wouldn’t be able to find in the mainstream press. So he always makes sure to invite the mainstream press to explore even more deeply their procorporate slant on world affairs. Anyway, this doofus was talking about what had been holding up Holbrooke’s appointment. “Oh, those stupid Republicans” was this genius’s analysis. “Always playing political games.” And, granted, a ridiculous number of executive appointments have been held up by a fascistic senate.

Nevertheless, you would think Jerome might have mentioned that Holbrooke had been under investigation for ethics violations. He might have asked, “but wasn’t he under investigation by Clinton’s own Justice Department for possibly violating federal ethics laws by lobbying U.S. diplomats abroad in the interest of his investment banking company, Credit Suisse First Boston? Of course, we all know that Ambassadorships are supporter rewards and are not to be taken seriously as political positions, but isn’t it a lot to expect the non-investing class of the world to sit by while this guy not only gets a free mansion in Geneva full of Filipino servants, free food, free liquor, and a free limo driven by an Italian chauffeur, but also uses this sinecure to pave the international way for his private investment company? I mean, isn’t that at least worth investigating, mister mainstream procorporate editor?”

But no. Jerome just snickered and sniggered along with the mainstream procorporate editor. Pathetic. That’s not journalism, Jerome. That’s the hypnotized media bending over for corporate hegemony.

But apparently this is Apologists week on public radio. It’s certainly Apologists for Nixon Week on NPR. It’s the silver anniversary of Dick’s resigning in disgrace before the entire disgusted nation. Now, there are a lot of things to reflect on about Nixon besides Watergate. He had no scruples about ruining the lives of others if he stood to benefit. He was equally comfortable thwarting the constitution to send a commie or his own henchmen to jail, equally comfortable and heartless whether sending troops to slaughter noncombatant Vietnamese, Laotians, Cambodians, or American college students, and who knows what residue of clandestine poisons still linger in the food chain and the bloodstreams of Cuba as a legacy of Nixon and his helpful CIA’s barely secret policy of never stooping too low to undermine the Cuban economy.

So there are many things to remember about Nixon besides Watergate and his galling, flailing, pathetic resignation – his final desperate attempt to avoid the prosecution and imprisonment he deserved. Yes, many evil things to remember about Nixon, a multifacetedly evil man, a man whose versatile insanity and selfishness were only matched by his arrogance at imposing them on the rest of the world in the form of the premature deaths of innocent people.

But it is, after all, the anniversary of his resignation, not the anniversary of the bombing of Laos into the Stone Age or the murders at Kent State or forced urbanization of Vietnamese farmers or agent orange or the secret bombings of Cambodia or the Bay of Pigs or the railroading of Alger Hiss.

No. It’s the anniversary of the Saturday Night Massacre and all that. It’s the anniversary of I am not a crook. It’s the anniversary of stonewall it. It’s the anniversary of where can we get a million bucks to shut these guys up? It’s the anniversary of expletive deleted. It’s the anniversary of Blind Ambition, Deep Throat, and eighteen missing minutes on the Oval Office tapes. It’s the anniversary of a drunk crook talking to the paintings on his walls. It’s the anniversary of Woodward and Bernstein, Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist, the Pentagon Papers, dirty tricks, and the enemies list.

One of the people on that enemies list was Daniel Shorr, now a regular fixture on NPR’s weekend edition, as well as on its flagship piece of crap, the arrogantly and falsely titled All Things Considered. Shorr would have us remember Watergate the way Oliver Stone would have us do: the tragedy born of the tragic flaw of an otherwise great man. This kind of thinking is the province of doddering old liberals, overpaid radio anchors like Linda Worthheimer, who parroted Shorr’s dimwittedness later in the week, and of course mediocre film directors whose analytical abilities were long ago whittled away by too much LSD.

“Oh, let’s remember his foreign policy,” these senile, braindead hacks tell us. Like Detente and China. Hey, I say. Indochina was also part of that foreign policy. “Nixon will be remembered for his foreign policy” sayeth the pundit. And I must admit, Nixon will be remembered for his foreign policy, the rivers of blood, the children splattered with flaming napalm, the bodybags full of opium, the burning of Vietnamese testicles by American GI cigarettes, the unspeakable violent chaos that drove a generation of Cambodians insane enough to produce a Pol Pot. Blood everywhere, rivers of blood. Yes, Nixon will be remembered for his foreign policy. Just like Nero will be remembered for his beautiful violin playing.

And let’s not forget the Bay of Pigs, that was a nice bit of foreign policy. Oh, very shrewd. Only Nixon could go to China. And only Nixon’s CIA could abandon a bunch of pathetic Cuban fascists after manipulating them into leading an unsupported invasion. Brilliant piece of foreign policy, eh, Daniel Shorr? Linda Werthheimer?

Or how about his buddying up with the most murderous dictators Latin America had to offer? Anastasio Samosa? Augusto Pinochet? How about that overthrow of the popularly elected government of Chile, the resulting kangaroo trials, kidnappings, imprisonment, executions in the Santiago National Stadium? There’s an admirable bit of foreign policy. Oh, yeah. That’s something for every school child to look up to. How noble. There’s something our nation can really be proud of. Hey, I know! Let’s put the guy on a stamp!

Well, come on. The government shouldn’t be held up as a role model to little kids, anyway. Basketball players, movie stars, musicians, wrestlers – okay. But the president of the United States? Massacre millions AND be a role model? That’s a lot of pressure.

Phew. I can’t even think about it, it’s just too much. I’ll definitely need the whole week to recover. Until next time, this has been mejeffdorchen with The Moment of Truth.