Yes, Watergate Was A Coup D'Etat
by Patrick J. BuchananJune 17, 1997
Until I saw an unctuous individual babbling on about how our terrified city feared a coup d'etat by Richard Nixon in 1974, I had decided not to write on the 25th anniversary of Watergate. But that did it. Watergate was indeed a coup. It was the overthrow of an elected president by a media and political elite he had routed in a 49-state landslide the like of which America had never seen.
In taking Nixon down, that elite was not motivated by any love of law or the Constitution. It was driven by hatred.
The media and political establishment hated Nixon for his lead role in nailing Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy and in blistering its New Deal heroes as witless dupes of Joseph Stalin. It hated Nixon because he rallied the nation against them, when he called on the "Great Silent Majority" to stand with him for peace with honor in Vietnam, and turned Vice President Agnew loose on them to the delight of a nation that had come to detest media arrogance and bias. And it hated Nixon because he seemed, with the mining of Haiphong and bombing of Hanoi, to have won a war they said could not -- and should not -- be won.
With every provincial capital under Saigon control, and America's POWs coming home, the left seethed with resentment. And when it was revealed in March of 1973 that there had been a cover-up of the Watergate break-in, the establishment united as one to destroy Nixon. Nixon shredded the Constitution! they howled.
But this is arrant nonsense. The Constitution was in tatters when Nixon arrived in the capital in 1969. It had been scissored to bits by Earl Warren, William O. Douglas, William Brennan and the rest of the merry men of the Warren Court. And every unconstitutional power grab by that renegade court was celebrated by this city.
Nixon had an "Enemies List," they cried. How awful! But if anything terrible ever happened to anyone on that list -- other than a lost invitation to a White House Christmas party -- it has yet to be discovered.
Nixon abused the FBI to cover up Watergate, they said. Yep, he did try to keep the FBI from expanding the Watergate investigation into campaign finance. But earlier, many of the same journalists who professed themselves sickened by this "abuse of power" had been recipients of the fruits of the FBI surveillance of the hotel rooms of Martin Luther King Jr., with recordings and photos of King's liaisons provided, courtesy of Lyndon Johnson's White House. The press has never called to account the White House and Justice Department aides responsible. What did Nixon ever do to anyone, compared to what the liberals did to Dr. King?
Nixon tried to block The New York Times and The Washington Post from printing the Pentagon Papers! He sure did. To this day, I find nothing wrong with the elected head of the executive branch going to the Supreme Court to seek an injunction against publication of top-secret documents stolen from the U.S. Department of Defense by a disloyal employee.
The Pentagon Papers had nothing to do with Nixon. They detailed the decision-making of the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, which had marched us into the Asian war from which Nixon was bravely trying to extricate the nation with honor. Yet, Nixon was bedeviled at every step by the same hypocrites who had cheered on JFK and LBJ.
Did Nixon misuse and abuse his power? Yes, he did.
Instead of creating a "Plumbers" unit in the White House to run down national security leaks, he should have left the black-bag jobs, as his predecessors did, to J. Edgar Hoover. But Nixon was not hated so much for what he did wrong as for what he did right -- exposing the near-treasonous conduct of much of the American left during Vietnam.
And when his presidency was broken, that left saw to it that aid to Vietnam was cut off, guaranteeing the defeat and death ofthe South in the all-out invasion by the Communist North in 1975. The mind-set of Nixon enemies was never more manifest than in their uncontrolled rage and hysteria when President Ford pardoned him, denying them the sensual delight of seeing Nixon in the dock. History, however, has a way of settling accounts.
Having destroyed Nixon, the liberals got Jimmy Carter, who announced that Vietnam was a "racist" war and Americans had gotten over our "inordinate fear of Communism." During Carter's one term, the Soviet empire drove deeper into Asia, Africa and even Central America, producing a conservative backlash that elected Ronald Reagan, who declared Vietnam "a noble cause" and led America to triumph in the Cold War. So let the left celebrate how it saved us all from Richard Nixon, as the republic recalls who it was that rescued America from the left and saved the world from the Soviet empire.