To Understand America’s Future, We Need To Look Back At Watergate

As the Trump Presidency fades into memory like a bad opium dream, Trump’s minions are dutifully cashing in. Sean Spicer got a cushy Newsmax gig, while Kayleigh McEnany moved to Fox News. Mike Pence signed a two-book deal worth seven figures, despite doing so little of note that even a single picture book would need heavy padding. Vapid memoirs became a whole industry; if you ever shared a room with Trump, you can make good money with some amateur psychoanalysis in a book called Justice Patriot or Autocrat Yankee.

But it’s the post-Trump careers of those indicted by the Russia probe that are the most predictable and depressing. Jailbirds George Papadopoulos, Rick Gates, and Michael Cohen all got book deals, and Gates and Cohen are looking to cash in as consultants. A few months after Roger Stone told the doofuses preparing to attack the Capitol that only they could prevent America from falling into “a thousand years of darkness” he made his acting debut in Roe v. Wade, because the advent of Biden’s millenarian reign of terror is no excuse to not work on your sizzle reel. Michael Flynn is splitting time between his garish new home and QAnon conferences, because apparently the Deep State’s nefarious web of control doesn’t extend to Ramada reservations.

This will only get more ridiculous. A few years from now Paul Manafort will probably start a podcast with the MyPillow guy, Flynn will co-create Law and Order: Secret Government Pedophiles, and Stone’s going to launch a weed company that somehow fails to use his name as a pun. If you’re an American in a certain tax bracket, you can profit from the longstanding tradition of treating political crimes as wacky novelties.

This tradition stretches back to when the Confederacy’s Vice President was welcomed back to politics after spending five whole months in prison like he was a Coca-Cola employee briefly tempted by the siren song of Pepsi, but to understand how the literal criminals who worked for Trump are probably going to make out like bandits with moronic opinions, we need to look at Watergate. A naked attempt to undermine the democratic process, Watergate set the modern precedent of America taking a hard look at bumbling criminals in the government and saying “You had better be ashamed of this for a whole year or two, mister!” And one of its architects was G. Gordon Liddy, who died in March after a long, long career of cashing in on his crimes.

An FBI agent turned Nixon loyalist, Liddy’s work for Tricky Dick included breaking into the office of Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist to look for dirt; Ellsberg had leaked the Pentagon Papers, which proved that America had been less honest about the Vietnam War than your ex was about their “work trips.” Liddy, the “weird” one on the team, suggested that Nixon fight his enemies with firebombings, kidnappings, and entrapment. When those ideas were shot down, he helped organize the attempted wiretapping of the Democratic National Convention, which was so comically inept that the lookout man got distracted by a bar TV playing Attack of the Puppet People. It’s not a very good movie.

In 1973 Liddy began a 20-year prison sentence, but got out after serving four and a half. He soon dedicated the rest of his life to a lucrative career that boiled down to “Isn’t it cool that I’m one of the Watergate guys? Hell yeah, crime!”

Will is exactly as weird as you’d expect a book by a man who said that the stern tones of Hitler’s speeches brought him comfort in childhood to be. You can skip the movie unless you want to see The Shining’s Danny Lloyd act out Liddy’s claim of overcoming his youthful fear of rats by killing and eating one, but Liddy’s new career was just getting started.

Read More