Tricky Dicky Is My Favourite U.S. President. and This Is Why

Daily Mail (London), March 17, 2012 | Go to article overview

Tricky Dicky Is My Favourite U.S. President. and This Is Why


Byline: CORMAC LUCEY

RICHARD NIXON is one of my all-time favourite U.S. presidents. He combined high statesmanship with low cunning. And his life was a classic morality tale of the rise of a poor, ambitious and hard-working man that was followed, Icarus-like, by the humiliating fall of a powerful leader laid low by his own demons, paranoia and spitefulness.

In the end it was Nixon's hatred of leaks that brought him down. It was serial revelations about national security materials which led him to set up his illicit team of 'plumbers' - to fix the leaks. And it was that team's use of outright illegality which led directly to the Watergate scandal and to Nixon's departure from the White House in disgrace.

As president, Nixon used his National Security Adviser, Henry Kissinger, to bypass the foreign policy establishment and to maintain personal control over the major areas of national policy: the war in Vietnam, and relations with China and the Soviet Union. Foreign policy for other areas of the world was delegated to the Department of State under Bill Rogers.

This left official Washington out of the loop and unhappy. Enter Charles Radford, a Navy stenographer assigned to Mr Kissinger.

It emerged in late 1971 that for more than a year he had rifled through burn bags, interoffice envelopes, and even inside Kissinger's personal briefcase, and that he had passed thousands of secret documents to his Navy bosses in the Defence Department. In a scenario worthy of a spy thriller, the armed forces were caught spying on the White House.

President Nixon was initially furious about the spy operation, pounding the table and threatening to court martial the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, Admiral Thomas Moorer. But he later backed off and left Moorer in position. He even quietly let the admiral know that he was aware of the operation. Why did he permit someone who had spied against him to remain at the top of the armed forces? THE answer lies in a comment he made privately to his close advisor John Ehrlichman: 'Moorer's our man now.' Nixon reckoned that he was better off leaving a seemingly compromised official in position than replacing him. If Moorer gave any difficulty in the future he could be politely reminded of the damage to his reputation and his high office, were the full facts of his illicit spying on the White House to emerge publicly.

I often think of Admiral Moorer when I see people who I think may be compromised but yet are left in position.

Consider the case of Sean Gallagher and his travails with RTE.

The Broadcasting Authority of Ireland has upheld a complaint made by the former presidential candidate relating to the Frontline presidential debate broadcast on October 24 last. Gallagher argued that the broadcast of a tweet from what had been erroneously described as the 'Martin McGuinness for President campaign' was unfair, and 'indicative of a lack of objectivity and of partiality towards the candidate'. The Compliance Committee of the BAI upheld his complaint.

It said the broadcast of a tweet incorrectly attributed to the official 'Martin McGuinness for President' Twitter account was unfair and it also said there were no apparent efforts made by RTE to verify the source and accuracy of the content of the tweet. However, the BAI also said there was no evidence to question the bona fides of the programme presenter or the production team.

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Tricky Dicky Is My Favourite U.S. President. and This Is Why
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