SocraticGadfly: Liberals: Soft-pedal the Howard Baker eulogies, OK?

June 26, 2014

Liberals: Soft-pedal the Howard Baker eulogies, OK?

Yes, Howard Baker was good in running the Senate as its majority leader. But, now that he's dead, liberals who are offering up hagiography over one, or both, of two political incidents aren't making themselves fully aware of the history.

Yes, Howard Baker, during Watergate, said: "What did the president know and when did he know it?"

That same Howard Baker, once he started finding out just what the president did know, strangely didn't want to learn a lot more. Indeed, as the Wa Post notes, the question was a rhetorical one, trying to give Nixon space. He did agree, as vice chair of the Senate Watergate Committee, to take Nixon to court over his tapes, but that was political window dressing. And, he was one of the last Senate holdouts in saying that he would vote guilty if the House impeached Richard Nixon.

But, didn't he clean up the Reagan White House after Iran-Contra?

Well, actually, he probably engaged in the spirit, at least, of obstruction of justice. Knowing that he had an aging Reagan, he played the sympathy card repeatedly. He also played on older House and Senate Democrats' fears of looking too political. He also did everything he could to hide looks at Reagan's diary, and other things. And, after that was over, he showed he otherwise wasn't White House chief of staff material.

Yes, he was OK on the environment. So were other GOP senators of his day and age. Yes, he might be considered a moderate today, but that's only because the GOP keeps driving further and further into the right-hand ditch. He wasn't considered other than a moderate conservative, if that, during his Senate days. He just happened to not be a wingnut, and not be an obstructionist. It's called the "Overton Window." If not for Watergate, it would be possible, if one wanted to, to give the "New Nixon" of presidential days the same encomia.

And, as a dithering moderate conservative, rather than a hard-liner, he cost himself a spot on the Supreme Court. Instead of William Rehnquist. So, liberals, there's yet another reason not to eulogize him.

Oh, and once again, in today's Internet age, it's not "too soon."

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