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John Dean, Public Enemy #1 - Again
February 13, 2002
by Jeremiah Bourque

All right, all right, I surrender: History really does repeat itself!

Imagine my shock at waking up on Monday morning, having, by my nocturnal schedule, completely missed the Sunday talk shows as usual, which I normally don't shed a tear over, to find that John Dean has replaced Osama Bin Laden as the #1 enemy of the United States of America, freedom, and our way of life. This traitor (?) has apparently done something very, very bad. Everyone's upset at him. You'd think that we're going to have a Two Minute Hate sometime soon, from the material I'm reading.

Now, I've read a couple of things about John Dean lately. I'm too young to remember Watergate, but I knew of the name for years. I didn't think he had any kind of legitimate job anymore. I didn't even know if he was alive until this year. I had assumed, given the rehabilitation of Richard Nixon, that his name would be stricken from everything but his role in Watergate, ignored by his peers and former friends as someone who helped Take Down A President, which we know from the Clinton era, is the most grievous sin that anyone can contemplate. It's our version of regicide.

So how did this guy become public enemy #1?

Now, I'd also read an article on the legal aspects of the Cheney stonewalling, and the broader attempt to make the executive branch immune from congressional oversight in most aspects of its operations, broadly and in perpetuity. I'm not a big fan of secret government. I read the article, and I'd seen some kind of interview Salon did with him some time earlier. Big deal.

So I look at the New York Times article. Looks like the same article. It says that Cheney will delay, bait and switch, and rely on the ultimate friendship of the Supreme Court for victory. This is controversial?

This is even, from a Republican perspective, bad?

What's the big deal? What's here that hasn't been said a million times since the last election? Or is it because it's John Dean saying it?

Is this why Joe DiGenova was (supposedly) shouting him down on a CNN program? I mean, we know Joe. We understand his role. He's a loudmouth with credentials to scare people into submission concerning the correctness of the Republican legal line. He's a mercenary through and through. Everyone knows Joe.

So what about Pat Buchanan? Well, he also worked for Nixon. A little bird is whispering in my ear that given that, he would be inclined to do this for free, just to get free public shots at John Dean. It certainly appears that Pat has taken up the offer and done so.

We had Bill Schneider allegedly say that the public was not interested in this, that none of this would stick on a popular President, and that the Supreme Court would never go against a President in a time of war.

Pardon me but... haven't we heard this line before?

Even I, too young to remember Watergate, can easily see in my mind people saying precisely this about Nixon.


Because they said it about Clinton, they said it about Reagan... ad nauseum.

The latest knock on John Dean is that, in the words of Master Yoda, "He's too old."

"And it appears to be a cry for attention by someone from a different era."

Uh, yes, it is. He's trying to say that the other era and this era are not very different. This is not exactly biotech or Enron-style accounting. Of course he's trying to cry for attention. He thinks that this administration is trying the same garbage all over again, and trying to permanize the victory.

Ladies and gentlemen, conservatives and liberals alike. How can this not be the literal truth? Cheney wants to restore the prestige of the Presidency. He wants to permanize the doctrine that the Presidency is above oversight because he sees this as a vital requirement for good government. He wants pre-Nixon power and secrecy. To achieve these things, he will roll back public access to executive knowledge and decision-making until the secrecy is greater than what Nixon could maintain.

Why is this controversial? I know a lot of people who don't even think this is bad. Why is this strange? Why is this surprising? Why can't we just recognize the obvious here? I mean, let's go into part of Pat's response... and I don't mean the usual garbage of how John Dean used to be a friend of his, a long, long time ago, in a faraway galaxy. It was only a few administrative planets away, folks... it's not quasar-style distance, much as Pat tries to make it out to be.

"Paula, he's completely over the top. He said if Mr. Cheney wins his battle in the Supreme Court, not to give out the names over folks he met with, it will be worse than anything Bin Laden could do to the United States of America.

Now does anyone seriously think this is on par with September 11th?"

What about all that rhetoric of, they can kill us, they can blow up our buildings, but they cannot take away our FREEDOM?

Think Braveheart. You know, "FREEEEEEEEEEEDOMMMMMMMMM!!!!!"

Bin Laden can't take that away from us, but Cheney and the Supreme Court just might. Doesn't that, you know, mean something?

Also, Pat knows how to write speeches. He and I both know how incredibly cheap his statement about 9/11 was.

He'll probably say the ends justify the means, and I'll say, that's what John Dean's afraid of.

He should be.

We should be, too.

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