By John Ruberry

Liberals and members of the mainstream media–okay, other than how they earn their paychecks there isn’t much difference between the two–have many intellectual flaws. But I’m going to zero in on just one here–their predilection to view all events through the sphere of the ’60s. For this discussion I’m going to bend time a bit–and call the ’60s as the years of 1964-1974, the period that covers Vietnam and the anti-war protests, the Civil Rights movement, and the Watergate Scandal. Richard M. Nixon, by the way, was elected to the presidency in 1968.

Older journalists looked back at the first and second Gulf Wars with nostalgia, especially when the anti-war protests broke out and during the pre-surge quagmire of 2005-2007. Younger journalists felt cheated by their absence from that first quagmire, Vietnam, and they didn’t want to miss out on what they saw as a second one.

Very few reporters who were on the job during Watergate are still working in journalism, the Washington Post’s Bob Woodward. who is 74, is a notable exception, so those in the biz now are hoping that President Donald Trump’s firing of embattled (yes, embattled) FBI Director James Comey is their Watergate, which of course crescendoed with Nixon’s resignation before his almost certain removal from office by the Senate.

Watergate was of course much more than the break-in at the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel, it was the cover up as well as the side scandals, such as the White House Plumbers, the dirty tricks, and the slush funds that made it America’s gravest political scandal.

Trump’s firing of Comey was ham-handed. If he had canned Comey shortly after being sworn-in, there would have been muted criticism from the left, as many Hillary Clinton supporters blamed Comey for her defeat last fall. Comey of course, in 2016’s October Surprise, reopened the investigation of Clinton’s reckless and illegal use of a home-brewed email server while she was Barack Obama’s secretary of state. Many prominent Democrats called for Comey’s resignation. When Trump did fire Comey last week, the White House didn’t know where to find him–Comey was in Los Angeles. And he learned of his dismissal from a television news report. And Trump, in an interview with NBC’s Lester Holt, contradicted the explanation from his deputy press secretary as to why he fired Comey. Finally, Trump’s hint that he may have taped one of his conversations with Comey doesn’t help the president’s case the public.

The media of course is drawing parallels to Comey’s firing to that of Richard Nixon forcing the dismissal of Watergate special prosecutor Archibald Cox in the “Saturday Night Massacre.” Yes, Trump cited “this Russia thing” as one of the reasons for getting rid of Comey, but what is this “Russian thing?” Collusion? Meanwhile James Clapper, Barack Obama’s director of national intelligence said only a few hours ago that there is no evidence of any Trump campaign collusion with Russia.

And who seriously believes that Russia hacked the presidential election?

Rather it appears “this Russia thing” was invented by sore losers within the Hillary Clinton campaign.

So repeat after me. “Russian collusion” is not Watergate. James Comey is not Archibald Cox. Donald Trump is not Richard Nixon. While we’re at it, Black Lives Matter is not the 1960s Civil Rights Movement and the regular anti-conservative riots at Berkeley are not the Free Speech Movement.

So what does Woodward, who along with Carl Bernstein broke the Watergate scandal for the Washington Post, think about the Comey controversy? While conceding on Fox News Sunday this morning that there are some questions on Russia that he wants answered, he also told host Chris Wallace, “This is not yet Watergate. Not a clear crime.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

trump-for-america-bw-and-color

By John Ruberry

“I’m not an actor, I’m a movie star!”
Peter O’Toole’s Alan Swann character in My Favorite Year.

A couple of writers I usually agree with, the Chicago Tribune’s John Kass and Breitbart’s Joel Pollak, the latter unsuccessfully  ran for Congress six years ago in the Illinois district where I live, are predicting a Hillary Clinton win in Monday’s presidential debate at Hofstra University.

Kass and Pollak acknowledge Clinton’s extensive debate skills, she was a victorious US Senate candidate in 2000 and 2006 and Clinton came very close to winning the Democratic nomination in 2008. The latter contest had numerous debates, including some one-on-one contests between Hillary and Barack Obama. Donald Trump has never participated in a one-on-one debate.

But Americans have heard this song before. While Kass acknowledges the 1960 John F. Kennedy–Richard M. Nixon debates set the standard for future matchups being about style over substance; Nixon was the more experienced debater, but Kennedy, still the most telegenic president in American history, emerged the victor. Nixon won the substance battle–the comparatively few radio listeners to the debate agreed–but the Age of Television began over a decade earlier.

joel-pollak-marathon-pundit
Blogger Ruberry with Joel Pollak in 2012

And what is largely overlooked from the first Kennedy-Nixon debate, which coincidentally was held 56 years to the day ahead of Monday’s faceoff, is that Nixon had some minor health issues on debate day–a knee injury suffered on the campaign trail and a subsequent infection earlier that month led to the Republican being hospitalized. Then Nixon contracted the flu. His rotten luck continued when the GOPer banged that same knee on a car door as he was entering the debate studio. Even in black-and-white, Kennedy looked tan and fit during that first debate, although his bronze skin tone, rare among those of Irish descent, was probably because he was suffering from Addison’s disease. Nixon looked pale. He was sweating, and it appeared that he needed a shave.

The better debater–and ironically the healthier man, lost the initial and of course most important of the 1960 debates. Nixon had to wait eight more years to win the presidency.

Trump, at age 70, is the Energizer bunny of the 2016 presidential campaign. The brash teetotaler clearly has the stamina to last 90 minutes standing on the debate stage.  But three times this month Clinton, age 68, had public bouts of unhealthiness that were captured on video–a four-minute long coughing fit, a collapse as her legs uncontrollably wobbled, and a Marty Feldman-wild eyes moment.

Can Clinton endure 90 minutes on her feet with no commercial breaks? Or bathroom or coughing breaks? While waiting for an opposing quarterback to throw an interception is generally not the best tactic of a successful NFL game plan, it certainly works well for the opponents of the Chicago Bears since Jay Cutler became their QB.

As for the Age of Television, and its cousin internet video, Trump is the master here. The billionaire real estate businessman hosted his popular Apprentice franchise for 11 years on NBC. Clinton, after nearly 40 years in public life, even on her increasingly few good days, still seems uncomfortable in front of TV cameras. Just as Nixon was, ironically. I mean this as a compliment: Trump is not a politician, he’s a TV star.  A skilled negotiator, Trump knows that if you get inside an opponents head, you’ve hobbled that person. Can Clinton debate the Trump on stage and the one in her head simultaneously?

Yes, Hillary can talk about details of police better than Trump. Will that matter?

John "Lee" Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

Sure Trump can blow it for himself by meandering into an insult rant during the debate, or worse, he could offer a cruel quip if (or when?) Clinton shows another sign of ill health, which would probably result in voters sympathizing with the Democratic nominee.

Moving beyond Kennedy-Nixon, in 1980, Ronald Reagan–an actor by the way–appeared far more presidential than the policy wonk incumbent, Jimmy Carter. In 2000,  Al Gore’s imperiousness mixed with too much wonkishness gave voters the impression that he had been running for president since 1969.

Come to think of it, Hillary Clinton has been positioning herself for a presidential run since then too. You could not say that about George W. Bush in 2000. And of course you can’t say that about Donald Trump either.

Not that Trump is dumb, he isn’t. But people don’t like smartass know-it-alls.

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit.

By John Ruberry

This year could end up being the most tumultuous year since 1968. During that year there was of course a heated presidential election, the Democrats nominated Vice President Hubert Humphrey, who represented the status quo, one that was not especially popular. The Republicans chose a former vice president, Richard Nixon, whose critics decried as someone who presented a dark vision of America. Sound familiar?Chicago Police SUV

Missing of course in 2016 is a third-party presidential candidate who can win electoral votes; in 1968 avowed segregationist and renegade Democrat George Wallace fed on racial discord–and there is plenty of that this year, most of it brought on by leftist groups such as Black Lives Matter, which seems very keen on protesting the rare shootings of African-American criminal suspects but is largely on silent on the daily carnage in cities such as Chicago, where so far this weekend over thirty people, most of them black, have been shot. In most of these shootings it’s very likely that other blacks pulled the trigger.

What is largely forgotten about the 1968 election is that it was the first presidential contest since Reconstruction in which a southern blacks voted in large numbers.

We’ve progressed far.

The penultimate year of the turbulent 1960s also brought us the Tet Offensive of the Vietnam War, North Korea’s seizure of the USS Pueblo, the Warsaw Pact invasion of Czechoslovakia, the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King–the anger from the latter caused dozens of deadly riots in American cities–the May Insurrection in France, and the turmoil of the Democratic National Convention in Chicago.

John ruberry
John “Lee” Ruberry of the Magnificent Seven

I’m sure I overlooked something.

This year has seen several deadly Islamist terrorist attacks, including last month’s Orlando night club shooting and the Nice, France truck killings, two assassination tragedies–one in Dallas and the other in Louisiana–where multiple police officers were killed, “Brexit,” Britain’s vote to leave the European Union, the attempted coup in Turkey, and of course the frenzied US presidential campaign.

Remember: We still have five more months in 2016.

On the positive end, the Apollo 8 mission brought the moon within reach at the end of 1968.

Let’s hope 2016 ends with good news.

Oh, it was also in late 1968 when Star Trek’s “Plato’s Stepchildren” episode aired. Captain Kirk and Lieutenant Uhura delivered American television’s first kiss between a black and a white, and this embrace was not an innocent peck on the cheek.

As Mitch Albom wrote in Tuesdays With Morrie, “Love wins. Always.”

John Ruberry regularly blogs at Marathon Pundit. And yes, he was alive in 1968.

Archie Bunker: What are you doing now?

Joe Foley: [Setting fire to Archie’s lipstick stained handkerchief] What Nixon Should have done to the tapes.

All in the Family Archie’s Brief Encounter Pt 2 1976

Vincent Hanna:And now, finally, a word with the man who is at the centre of this bye-election mystery: the voter himself. And his name is Mr. E. Bla–, Mr. Blackadder, *you* are the only voter in this rotten borough…?

Blackadder:Yes, that’s right.

Vincent Hanna:How long have you lived in this constituency?

Blackadder:Since Wednesday morning. I took over the previous electorate when he, very sadly, accidently brutally cut his head off while combing his hair.

Blackadder the Third Dish and Dishonesty 1987

Are you old enough to remember this photo.

rose-mary-woods

That’s a picture of Rosemary woods. She was Richard Nixon’s secretary fiercely loyal to the Nixon family.

Woods was deeply connected with one of the most famous events of the Watergate scandal.  18 1/2 minutes of missing conversation.  Here is the description of the event from her obit in the Washington Post.

Miss Woods, the president’s private secretary, in 1973 was transcribing secretly recorded audiotapes of Oval Office conversations. She was working on a June 20, 1972, tape of a conversation between Nixon and his chief of staff, H.R. Haldeman, that might have shed light on whether Nixon knew about the Watergate break-in three days earlier. While she was performing her duties, she said, the phone rang. As she reached for it, she said she inadvertently struck the erase key on the tape recorder and kept her foot on the machine’s pedal, forwarding the tape.

A photograph taken of Miss Woods re-creating the event, nearly sprawling to do both simultaneously, made her gesture look like a gymnastic feat. Some wags, according to a Washington Post article at the time, dubbed it “the Rose Mary Stretch.”

She was never charged with obstruction but while Miss Woods never changed her story over the years her tale has generally not been believed even by the most naive of people.

Which brings us to 2014 and this story:

The Internal Revenue Service said Friday it has lost a trove of emails to and from a central figure in the agency’s tea party controversy, sparking outrage from congressional investigators who have been probing the agency for more than a year.

The IRS told Congress Friday it cannot locate many of Lois Lerner’s emails prior to 2011 because her computer crashed during the summer of that year.

For some odd reason the chairman of the Ways & Means committee doesn’t seem to buy it:

“The fact that I am just learning about this, over a year into the investigation, is completely unacceptable and now calls into question the credibility of the IRS’s response to Congressional inquiries.  There needs to be an immediate investigation and forensic audit by Department of Justice as well as the Inspector General.  

The reaction has been what you might expect

As Glenn Reynolds suggests, “So this means the contents were devastating for the White House, I guess.” At Commentary, John Steele Gordon adds:

So it would seem that not only does the Obama administration exhibit the worst attributes of the Carter administration, it also exhibits the worst attributes of the Nixon administration. No one believed Nixon’s explanation for the infamous missing 18 1/2 minutes of oval office tapes. I doubt many will believe that this is an accident too.

Patterico asks the obvious question

is there anyone with govt computer/server knowledge that could explain how this might happen for only for a specific person in a specific time period? Is it possible they were lost on one end, but not the recipients end?

You would basically have to have that particular folder corrupted but that wouldn’t affect the servers belonging to those who received them.

Furthermore as any tech person will tell you it’s almost impossible that a crash would permanently delete these e-mail in such a way that a professional couldn’t recover them but powerline says:

MORE: C.J. Ciaramella has more here, including a quote from an IRS statement. The AP reports: “The IRS said technicians went to great lengths trying to recover data from Lerner’s computer in 2011. In emails provided by the IRS, technicians said they sent the computer to a forensic lab run by the agency’s criminal investigations unit. But to no avail.”

I submit and suggest no tech person would be able to read that with a straight face.

If that hard drive & server was sent to a lab it was to be sure that data was wiped.

On the bright side this story makes an excellent employment test for the MSM in general and MSNBC in particular.  If the prospective employee can express belief in this IRS story with a straight face they are qualified for their own show.

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