Charlie Pierce at the Esquire Political Blog recalls another facet of Robert Bork’s career:
If we all live long enough, we may see the end of conservative whining over the hard hand dealt to Robert Bork, who once was denied a seat on the Supreme Court of the United States because his judicial philosophy should be written on a bearskin with a pointed stick dipped in mud. Joe Nocera is only the latest person to fall into the deep, rancid morass of self-pity that has emanated from Bork ever since a bipartisan majority of the U.S. Senate declined to let him spend the rest of his life playing Chutes and Ladders with the Bill of Rights….
On October 23, 1973, always the good apparatchik, it was Bork who stepped up and fired Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox, after Attorney General Elliot Richardson and Deputy AG William Ruckleshaus refused to do so, on the orders of President Richard M. Nixon, who was at that moment guilty as sin of encouraging acts of burglary and retaliation against all his political enemies, real and imagined, and then covering them up. Call me an old fogie, but I remember the era of what a crooked AG named John Mitchell called “the White House horrors” as being a pretty toxic time for politics inside the old Beltway. And, when it counted, Robert Bork stepped up and did the bidding of a guilty old bag of sins who, if it weren’t for divisive politics, would have been selling lemons from a roadside stand in California.
Given how many of the Cheney Regency’s principal villians (Cheney himself, Baker, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, etc.) started their political careers under Richard Nixon, I’m more than ever convinced that the great American political error of the late twentieth century was letting Gerald Ford pass off the unwillingness of the bicameral “permanent government party” mandarins to examine the full extent of the Nixon administration’s criminality as “putting the past behind us“. Failure to prosecute “a frail old elder statesman” (who would go on spreading political poison for another twenty years) gave the various schemers, bagmen, thugs, and would-be kingmakers under his protection the chance to move from Watergate to Iran-Contra to the Supreme-Court-enabled theft of the 2000 election and all the yet-unpunished criminality resulting therefrom.
It’s as though the conspirators responsible for bringing all the McCarthy paranoia, Bircher race-baiting, and Goldwater fantasies of global domination into the Oval Office — only to be forestalled by their own clumsiness in attempting to hid the evidence of petty malfeasance — had been told: “While the Rule of Law holds in America, you will not be able to get away with this.” So they’ve spent the last 40 years in piecemeal destruction of that Rule of Law, the better to install their desired rule of very small men.