Speaking of the impending doom of the Republican Party, Atrios says:
There's this sense that at any moment the damn will burst and they'll all be fighting over who hates Bush the most, but it hasn't happened yet.
I’ve read enough books on Watergate to know that this is exactly how things went for Nixon. It was obvious that he was going down, but it just never seemed to happen. Or that everything seemed to move in slow motion, and the surer you became that he was going down, the more it seemed he never would. And before you knew it, it was over and he was gone, and everything kept on going as if the slow-mo hadn’t happened at all. I was just a baby when all this happened, but the books certainly convey that idea fairly well.
Even on the day that Nixon planned to resign, they kept up a brave face and pretended to be on top of the world. They even went so far as to prepare a sham speech as a head-fake on why Nixon was making a speech. While Nixon’s resignation was entirely predictable, the actual event was still a surprise; including to many on the Whitehouse staff. And before that, Nixon played things so close to the vest that even his closest advisors feared he might not step down even if he had been impeached.
And I think this is the advantage of the Nixon-Cheney denial system. Never admit defeat. Never show a hint of weakness. Even at your lowest point, continue to show strength and pretend as if you’re always on the verge of crushing your foes and laughing on their graves. And it works. Especially as it’s very disconcerting and their foes have to stay a little on the defensive, even at their strongest.
People keep expecting Republicans to have their Moment of Truth moment, where they finally confess to everything, hang their head in shame, and wait for the bailiff to slap on the handcuffs and escort them out the door. But that just isn’t going to happen. Nixon held off his Moment of Truth moment until death. As will the rest of the Nixon gang. Even in their tell-alls, they never told all. Even as born-agains, they were still the same crooks. The rats went in their own direction when the ship finally went down, but they all continued to hold firm on the general principle that they hadn’t deserved what they got.
And it worked. To this day, most Republicans will insist that Watergate was a “third-rate burglary,” despite the fact that that was a laughable phrase when it was first uttered and only got funnier over time. My mom insists that G. Gordon Liddy masterminded the whole thing based on a misunderstanding and that Nixon got a bum rap for everything; and she was an adult at the time it all happened. But she’s heard Liddy give his story and she’s sticking to it.
And that involved a case where we’ve got Nixon on tape admitting to stuff, and we know a whole lot more than that. So we really shouldn’t expect some huge explosion while everyone gets out the long knives for Bush. It ain’t going to happen. Not unless he drops the charade and finally confesses to everything. But unless we can get Perry Mason out of retirement, that ain’t going to happen.
But fear not. Despite the fact that Nixon never confessed, and that wingnuts will remember him as a martyr unfairly smeared by a liberal cabal; the damage was done. Nixon will always be remembered as a stain on the presidency and the damage done to Republicans was both immediate and long-term. His stonewalling was enough to fool some of the people all of the time, but most of the people still know he’s a crook.
Even now, much of the Bush Administration’s activities can be seen as a desperate attempt to resurrect Nixon’s infamous legacy. And that includes some of their biggest mistakes and worst habits. And they’re failing now as they failed then. We might not get our big Moment of Truth, but the truth will come out all the same.