Saturday, January 3, 2009

Baker's Not So Fabulous Bush Boys

It's not surprising that "The Huffington Post" would run a long expose on George W. Bush's National Guard service. What's surprising is that it's an excerpt from Russ Baker's new book, Family of Secrets. I've read about half of it, including all the Nixon chapters. It's a massive exercise in conjecture which hints that George H. W. Bush had something to do with JFK's assassination (Kennedy wouldn't do the bidding of Texas oligarchs, who were fiercely protective of the oil depletion allowance) and also oiled the skids for President Nixon's downfall because of his independent-mindedness on economic and foreign policy. Here's an example of Baker's style:
Maureen Dean, before meeting John during his White House residency, had been a Dallas-based flight attendant. She had been married to George Owen, who worked for Clint Murchison Jr. -- a central figure in the oil depletion-[Oswald associate] George de Mohrenschildt circle. At minimum, it certainly is a small world.
In part by drawing lines such as that between mid-century elites -- Baker must've had a thousand yellow stickies on his dining room wall -- he asserts that the CIA's behind almost everything in Washington's recent history, including John Dean. Even Watergate historian Stanley Kutler, who calls Dean a personal friend, is drawn into the fray. The tentacles, Baker hints, reach even that far.

We Nixonians are instinctively drawn to anything which exonerates our man, as Family of Secrets largely does. Baker draws on under-appreciated Watergate findings by Jim Hougan, Colodny-Gettlin, and most recently James Rosen. His book was praised by Nixon biographer Roger Morris and also carries an endorsement of the author (though not, it appears, of the book itself) by Bill Moyers. It's not that more scholarship about the Vietnam-Watergate era isn't needed, particularly since the corrupt FBI's self-protective machinations against an elected President have been cast in sharp relief by W. Mark Felt's death.

And yet time after time, Baker makes fateful implications and suppositions without quite closing the deal. Conviction by connection isn't the same as history. Which brings us back to "The Huffington Post"'s seeming opportunism in running a Baker excerpt. If it's in your political or ideological interests to promote Family of Secrets on W.'s Guard service (as Huffington does) or indeed on the alleged CIA frame-up of RN during Watergate, aren't you endorsing his whole enterprise, including, especially, the dark hints about the Bush family and the events of November 1963?


Tim Fleming said...

I did not think there was anyone in the world who still wanted Nixon exonerated. Surely you do not think he was innocent of wrongdoing.

Tim Fleming

Fr. John said...

Definitely not. But I do believe his accomplishments far outweigh his deficiencies.