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June 03, 2005

In Praise of Ken Duberstein

Robert George writes:

The Huffington Post | The Blog: Ken Duberstein is a mensch.

Who's he and why say that?

Duberstein, for those who don't know... was Ronald Reagan's chief of staff after Nancy sacked Don Regan. And, it is because of that position that he has a unique perspective on the Mark Felt/'Deep Throat' saga....

[O]therwise smart Republicans... in lashing out at the liberal/media lionization once more of Woodward and Bernstein's greatest moment, they feel the need to character assassinate Mark Felt and portray a Richard Nixon that never existed.... For... them, presidential lying is no big thing... what's wrong with a few 'dirty tricksters' in the White House?...

The answer to that sentiment and that question can be found in the words of Ken Duberstein.... I called Duberstein's office. He graciously took my call and said, that his statement was that 'Felt is a hero.' In not-exactly-easy circumstances, 'He put America first.' (I eventually found the original quote; it's right here.) Duberstein said that, in reading all the media reports of the last few days, he put himself back in his shoes as White House chief of staff. He thought, with the information Felt had in front of him, 'What options did he have?' 'He couldn't go to the White House Chief of Staff (Haldeman or Ehrlichman); he couldn't go to the Justice Department (John Mitchell); he couldn't go to the White House Counsel (John Dean). He did something responsible. The congressional committees hadn't been formed yet. What do you do? Felt put America first.'...

What Watergate should still tell us -- but Stein, Noonan and Buchanan appear to willfully ignore -- is that a corrupt administration is dangerous.... This was a high-level criminal conspiracy, whose members were willing to destroy personally and professionally any and all who crossed them.

How much did the president know? We may never know. But the fact is that a criminal enterprise was run out of the West Wing of the White House.... Are Felt's motives suspect because he was upset that he was passed over to succeed J. Edgar Hoover? Perhaps, but it wasn't just that Felt wanted the top job. It was also that he believed that someone coming from the White House would be more likely beholden to the White House than to the Bureau -- which is exactly what happened with Nixon's pick L. Patrick Gray, who ended up resigning for destroying evidence.

Ken Duberstein has very strong Republican Party ties. He is a self-described 'Nixon loyalist.' Yet, he can still recognize what was at stake in 1972 and why Mark Felt did what he did.

And that's why Ken Duberstein is a mensch. Stepping above party, he, too, can put America first.

Posted by DeLong at June 3, 2005 02:09 PM