Thursday, June 02, 2005

Blame him for disco and that pet rock thing, too

As predicted, Deep Thoat’s emergence from the shadows has provoked odd rumblings from the right wing. Few in the VRWC are willing to praise Mark Felt. But for a change, there are no White House talking points on this one. So, everybody thinks Felt is a louse, but they can’t explain exactly why. Bob Novak says he’s a bad guy because he wanted to block post-Hoover reforms at the FBI. Pat Buchanan says the problem is motivational – he hated Nixon. Conservative functionary Greg Mueller, quoted in the same article, accuses of Felt of “playing a role in bringing down a president who was fighting the cold war.” Peggy Noonan has by far the most bizarre take, blaming Felt for the Cambodian genocide.

The most common complaint made by Noonan and others is that the honorable thing to do would have been to go public and resign early on rather than leaking. It's sort of glossed over - how could it not be? - but what they seem to be saying is that under those circumstances Nixon&Co. might not have committed all those crimes and thus he would have remained in power. Or maybe, they would have committed the crimes, but Nixon would have stayed. Or something. But Felt was not in a position to go public with the information he had, which dealt primarily with confidential FBI investigations. If he had resigned he would have quickly disappeared from the scene.

Revisionist history is a big winger project, so this kind of fanciful second-guessing isn’t surprising. Pretty soon they’ll arrive at some kind of dismissive consensus on Deep Throat. But power continues to have a strange effect on conservatives. It used to be a “conservative” thing to assign blame directly to the people who actually committed crimes – whether Nixon or the Khmer Rouge – not to trace it to third parties and historical forces bouncing around like pinballs.