The Sequel(s)

They say if you live long enough you see it all. I must really be getting old because Russiagate/Ukrainegate looks like a repeat of Watergate to me. With that theme in mind let’s have some “fun” while exploring.

Two relative cub Washington Post reporters, Carl Bernstein and Bob Woodward took down Richard Nixon with their reporting when I was a young adult. Today I am a senior citizen and a plethora of reporters, to a great degree led by the Washington Post, are taking down Donald Trump. This game is far from over –to put it in baseball terms the closer is still in the clubhouse, but he has poured his last cup of coffee before walking down to the bullpen – and it is impossible to identify a single news outlet let alone reporter or team of reporters that are the modern day Bernstein and/or Woodward. My nomination for the closest thing is David Farenthold of the Washington Post who earned a Pulitzer in 2017 for his investigative reporting on Trump’s financial corruption but a good case can be made for several other journalists.

I remember Watergate reasonably well. In those days the 24/7 news cycle did not yet exist. It was basically the networks and a handful of major daily newspapers that gave us the news. It is certainly worth noting that there was no right wing mythology machine to act as the president’s misinformation machine either. Political discourse is great but I long for the days of fact based, unbiased reporting at all outlets of consequence.

One of the critical players in Watergate was the anonymous Deep Throat. Suddenly a thus far anonymous whistleblower has emerged and seemingly blown the lid off of a scandal Trump appeared to have beaten.

The proverbial straw that broke Nixon’s back was the revelation of the White House tapes that accurately portrayed his words, not what he and his minions said were his words. Trump released a “transcript” that proved the whistleblower’s assertions and at its core it all had to do with what Trump said.

In Watergate while Nixon himself escaped prison the same cannot be said for a plethora of “his men” In the current scandal not the least of those implicated are the Attorney General Bill Barr and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. I don’t know if I ever did it in writing but a long time ago I predicted a lot of lawyers would be disbarred before this was over and I certainly stick by that prediction.

In 1974 Bernstein and Woodward wrote a book entitled All the President’s Men. In 1976 their parts were played by Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman in the movie of the same name based on that book. Both were hits. For the record, Hal Holbrook played Deep Throat.

There have been a plethora of political books that have come out about the 2016 election and/or Trump. Some were good, many were junk. I’ve read my fair share and have put several on the Recommended Reading list. Perhaps the funniest (and not on the list) is Rick Wilson’s Everything Trump Touches Dies. It may be prophetic in that because of their association with Trump a lot of his “boys” will see their political careers die. Bill Barr made a return appearance at Justice and may find his next act is as a jailhouse lawyer (sans license). My guess is that Mike Pompeo wasn’t satisfied with being a back bench House member and saw a stint in the Trump Cabinet as a passport to a Senate seat from Kansas or the governor’s mansion in Topeka. Pompeo appears to be a lot of pounds away from his West Point days but prison food may get him closer to his cadet weight.

Bernstein still writes an occasional piece and Woodward is Associate Editor of the Washington Post as well as churning out books often enough. At 75 and 76 respectively and no longer in the trenches of the action I don’t think they will write the consummate book on the Trump administration. (By the way I’m still awaiting a quality insider book on the 2016 Jeb Bush and Trump campaigns.) It would be interesting to see Farenthold (in his very early forties) write it.

As to the movie, Redford is 83, Hoffman a single year younger. I think we might need a new actor to play the journalists. Holbrook is even older at 94. Another factor to consider is that all these years later we may need to cast some females. Back in the ‘70’s women were just starting to have positions of consequence in anything resembling appreciable numbers; today that is a much different story. We have made significant progress in the interim.

I will close with baseball’s post-season in mind. A great Italian-American philosopher from St. Louis, Missouri once said, “It’s like déjà vu all over again.” He was also enshrined in the baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York. You may know him better by his nickname than his given name. I speak of Lawrence Yogi Berra.

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