Another John Dean Moment

I’ve seen this once before, and what he says is true:

Gordon Sondland Leaves Us With No Other Option
Noah Bookbinder / New York Times

History will remember Wednesday as the day a United States ambassador testified under oath before Congress and laid out a clear, simple and damning case that President Trump abused the power of his office and committed bribery, an act for which the Constitution leaves but one outcome….

I saw the first John Dean moment. I remember it well.

On June 25, 1973 I had left sacking at Furr’s Supermarket to learn to make salads and eventually the basics of French cooking at The Compound, in Santa Fe, New Mexico.* (* Which is, I think, still there).

It was a Monday and the restaurant wasn’t open on Mondays. Watergate was a constant fact of life, and would continue until August of 1974 by which time I would be in Massachusetts, working at a Gannett experimental plant making printing plates called “Laser Graphic Systems.” None of that is here nor there, except to say that Watergate was a part of our lives for a goodly long time, but I remember certain milestones.

I still remember the collective gasp when Butterworth revealed the existence of the taping system that eventually brought Nixon down.

I think I watched the late night re-rebroadcast on PBS, but I remember the sort of silent explosion, the psychic sense that a veil of history had been ripped open. And I remember that Republicans then, as now, basically adopted a “it was no big deal” attitude, although Nixon claimed (for the first time in his life, perhaps) ignorance.

It was balmy and dry. Everyone else was asleep, but I was watching the old Motorola Quasar® color TV in the living room.

Dean was calm, level headed, clearly nervous and under a great deal of stress. And he came forward and outed the whole Nixon gang. He showed that rarest of qualities, moral courage.

It is curious–curious that physical courage should be so common in the world, and moral courage so rare. – Mark Twain 

From that point onwards, Watergate kept getting bigger, moving along as a historical drama, almost of its own accord.  But it was big, and it turns out that no matter how bad you though old Tricky Dick was, he was worse. And that was the John Dean moment.

John Dean testified the next two days, but I could only catch the newspaper accounts. I worked from 7 am to 2 PM and then 5 pm to 2 AM the other six days. (The food was great and I didn’t have any time to spend my paychecks. The wizened salad lady cooked us a northern New Mexican meal before our shift started, an amazingly good, private restaurant.)

But that John Dean moment had opened up a can of worms that was much bigger than anyone to that moment realized.  And the drama played out over the next year and change.

Dean’s testimony continued to rock the nation while I cracked eggs, cleaned shrimp, made croutons, cut endless tomatoes, lettuce, chopped garlic, etc. I still use what I learned in that kitchen, long ago, working for minimum wage, each and every day of my cooking life.

Watergate, though, faded.

Watching Ambassador Sondland testify today, I sensed many — though not all — of the conflicts and pressures that John Dean had felt. And I also felt that veil ripped asunder.

There’s a thing I half remember called Zymurgy’s Law which posits that once you open a can of worms, you always need a BIGGER can to get them back into.

Today’s link in the chain was the direct link back to Trump. And the whole gang knew about it.

That pop you heard was a BIG can of worms opening.


We could go into various forms of doubt, but the facts are plain and the outcome is damning. Guilty beyond a treasonable doubt.

Now, popular wisdom has it that the Republican Senators will follow Trump anywhere.

My observation is that they undoubtedly personally hate, despise and are not at all loyal to Donald Judas Trump because he so transparently only looks out for Donald Judas Trump. They think that he’s a lout and an amateur and dangerous as hell but Faux Nooz™ and the folks back home — when polled, and we all know how painful that can be, to Quote David Letterman — well, they scare the Republicans of the Senate. And something personally about him seems to scare them. I don’t know what it is, but I can see its effects.

Well and good, but given the choice between their electoral hides and Trump’s, well, Donnie, have fun storming the prison.

But it seems astonishing that all these moral “Evangelicals” and these media pastors can’t ever find a sin to complain about from a man who consorts with porn stars and bribes them to keep quiet (including an allegation that a “tough guy” intimidated said porn star in a parking lot and threatened her daughter). No matter what wrong Mr. Trump seems to commit, they’re FINE with it.

I can understand the complicity of Republican congresscritters and Senators: cravenness is their fundamental nature and a good measure seems necessary for political survival in a culture that flips from long hair to short hair, from bubble cars to box cars, from austere to lavish, from wise to foolish every ten years. You don’t survive in congress for decades without learning how to shapeshift.

But the Evangelicals? The Radio Talk Show Hosts? The independent Republican organizations, clubs, etc? Why are no voices being raised? Have the “Libertarian/Small Government” Republicans lost their individuality altogether? They’re ACTING like an authoritarian Collective. “No one criticizes Dear Leader else they shall be cast out and ostracized!”

Don’t believe me? Just ask Justin Amash (former R, now I).

Hell, I remember even with Nixon, the New Mexico Republicans voted Pete McClosky his lone delegate, meaning that he could be nominated and speak at the convention.

(Republicans, being Republicans easily solved the quandary of not osculating at the posterior region of King Tricky of Richard. They voted a straight Nixon delegate slate, with one VOTE being pledged to go to McCloskey. Pete McCloskey did not speak at that convention, IIRC. Because there was no delegate to nominate him.)

Whence this servile and obsequious GOP? Have they spent so long attempting to enslave others that they find themselves enslaved?

They said of the Germans that they would always follow “the man on the horse.” Republicans in this case are the same. Except all they need is the horse’s ass.

Many years later, when I was living in Santa Fe again, at the DeVargas Mall on the north side — by the “Federal boneyard” asd my dad used to call it — at the Albertson’s supermarket, I used to see John Ehrlichman, whose wife or keeper would park him by the tortilla chips while she picked out the meat and fish. He used to wear khaki shorts, tennis shoes, and a rumpled khaki M.A.S.H. hat. He just sort of stood there in rumpled khaki, looking off into space.

And I would think: when I was going to Santa Fe High School, you were one of the most powerful men in Washington D.C. and in the U.S.A. and in the WORLD.

But now, I buy my own meat.

nixon resign

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose




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