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Wednesday July 22, 1998

- Flash Back -


By Gordon K. Durnil, Contributor, The Daily Republican Newspaper

WASHINGTON DESK - I know how they feel, those Democrats who keep parroting the company line in support of president Clinton. Empathizing with them, I believe I did the same thing with Nixon.

My first campaign work as a Dick Nixon volunteer was in the 1968 and 1972 campaigns. He was a strong leader and "right" on the issues.

I even served in his administration for a while. I knew and respected Attorney General John Mitchell and could never imagine him guilty of a crime. Many of those bright, young, CREEP guys went to jail because they believed the denials and supported their boss.

Two years of news media rants closely followed the Watergate investigation. It was partisan bickering, like what we now see on cable channels nightly. But, in the Nixon era, we assumed the media had joined sides with the opposition and that their reports were biased. Nixon was smarter than that, we thought.

But then the judicial system came into play. Courts at the highest level engaged. Judges from Democrat and GOP backgrounds were ruling against Nixon's 'executive privilege' arguments.

It became a slippery slope.

My late friend, Congressman Earl Landgrebe, said he didn't care about the facts, he was supporting Nixon. Eventually, many Republicans followed Senator Howard Baker's lead and began to think more broadly, pondering whether their denials might harm future reputations?

Some, such as Henry Waxman in this Clinton era, seem unable to recognize simple truths.

Personal lives go on after administrations change. Reputation is important.

My advice for Clinton loyalists who continue their daily banter from the White House, is to give it up and start protecting their own reputations.

It's difficult to disengage, especially in the face of public disgrace. When trust is betrayed, however, it is an honorable alternative.

[Gordon Durnil served in the Nixon, Reagan, and Bush administrations. He is the author of IS AMERICA BEYOND REFORM? Sligo Press, and THE MAKING OF A CONSERVATIVE ENVIRONMENTALIST Indiana University Press.]

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