It's all words and it isn't by Garry Trudeau. It's Pat Buchanan's syndicated column which runs in papers around the country and which I never miss in the New York Post.
Pat is always good for a laugh. Whether he's haranguing the elec-torate during his quadrennial fixation about becoming president or shouting at people on the "Crossfire" TV show over CNN or entertaining us with his newspaper column.
But his column on the 25th anniversary of the Watergate break-in was a classic. Forget "The Katzenjammer Kids," "Blondie," "Peanuts," and even "Pogo" and "The Terrible-Tempered Bangs." In memorializing Watergate, Pat outdid himself.
I realize Pat doesn't write the headline, but in this instance the Post's headline writers were close to the mark: "Revisiting Watergate-It was a coup against Nixon/The man who nailed Alger Hiss."
See, all the time you and I thought the Watergate caper was the work of some Cuban emigres and ex-CIA cowboys, with whackjobs like G. Gordon Liddy lurking about for moral support. But now Buchanan reveals the truth! The whole affair, start to finish, beginning with that famous "third-rate burglary" in the Watergate, was the calculated concoction of Kay Graham, Walter Cronkite, Punch Sulzberger, David Brinkley and the editors of Time.
Here's how Pat explains it:
"Watergate was indeed a coup. It was the overthrow of an elected president by a media and political elite he had routed in a 49-state landslide the like of which America had never seen. . . it [the "elite"] was driven by hatred. The media and political establishment hated Nixon for his lead role in nailing Alger Hiss as a Soviet spy!"
Although Pat doesn't mention Eleanor Roosevelt or Harry Hopkins in his screed, it's obvious they would also have been in on the plot to "get Nixon" if either had been still alive at the time the commies were planning Watergate. Those two were always cozy with Hiss and you know all about Alger and Stalin at Yalta. And didn't FDR himself once refer amiably to dictator Stalin as "Uncle Joe"?
But back to Pat Buchanan. Listen to this: "The mind-set of Nixon enemies was never more manifest than in their uncontrolled rage and hysteria when President Ford pardoned him, denying them the sensual delight of seeing Nixon in the dock."
Can't you just see Ben Bradlee and Dan Rather and the rest of them in their "sensual delight"? Buchanan does have the gift of setting a scene for you, doesn't he, conjuring up the orgiastic pleasures of a pack of naked liberals generously slavered with Mazola oil, writhing about in ecstasy as the bailiffs lead in poor Nixon. Except for the solemnity of the earlier event, it does sort of conjure up images of Oliver Cromwell and the Roundheads rubbing their hands as Charles I was brought on to cries of "Off with his head!" and the executioner ran a practiced thumb along the honed edge of the ax.
In the pallid, canned-laughter world of the television sitcom, you don't get humor like that. You'd have to go back to Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks and Woody Allen writing for the Sid Caesar show with Imogene Coca.
But Pat had more. Did Nixon "shred" the Constitution? Arrant nonsense! thunders Buchanan, the sacred document had already "been scissored to bits by Earl Warren" and his Supreme Court, "and every unconstitutional power grab by that renegade court."
Before the column is ended Pat has also ripped into Jimmy Carter, Martin Luther King Jr., J. Edgar Hoover, Kennedy and Lyndon Johnson. How he overlooked Al Smith and Woodrow Wilson, I cannot say. It is a truly wonderful thing, Mr. Buchanan's frenzy, as zealous and fixed as Savanarola's, and rendered even more entertaining when set against the realization Buchanan really believes this stuff. And in another year or two will again be running for president on this same platform of dead-certain folly.
It's all the fault, Watergate was, of disgraced, jailed, destroyed Alger Hiss, and the wicked men wearing the old school tie who defended him, of Woodward & Bernstein, of Ben Bradlee and Kay Graham, of people who didn't take poor Whittaker Chambers at his addled word. Nixon and John Mitchell and Dean and Liddy and McCord and the Cubans just happened to be strolling by when the accident happened, when Humpty Dumpty fell from the wall, when an anonymous night watchman found the tape on an anonymous door.
They really ought to have Pat writing material for Imus. That Buchanan wit, what a terrible thing to waste.