Worshipping the wrong heroes

G. Gordon Liddy. A lifetime cheater who claimed a higher ground.

The Chicago Tribune carried a news story about the death at age 90 of G. Gordon Liddy, the well-known mastermind of the Watergate burglary that led to scandal and the resignation of President Richard M. Nixon.

Liddy said of his actions, “I’m proud of the fact that I am the guy who did not talk.”

That sort of “loyalty” leads to all kinds of misery in this world. The Tribune article contained this interesting observation. “Born in Hoboken, N.J., George Gordon Battle Liddy was a frail boy who grew up in a neighborhood populated mostly by German-Americans. From friends and a maid who was a German national, Liddy developed a curiosity about German leader Adolf Hitler and was inspired by listening to Hitler’s radio speeches in the 1930s.’

As we all know, followers of Hitler were famous for ‘not talking’ even as the regime carried through on plans for a Holocaust taking the lives of millions of people. All while Hitler claimed to be aiming the nation toward a “higher ground.”

But Liddy liked Hitler because he felt kinship with the man’s journey from frailty to power.

“If an entire nation could be changed, lifted out of weakness to extraordinary strength, so could one person,” Liddy wrote in “Will,” his autobiography. Liddy decided it was critical to face his fears and overcome them. At age 11, Liddy roasted a rat and ate it to overcome his fear of rats. “From now on, rats could fear me as they feared cats,” he wrote.

That instinct for payback against the world seems to have driven Liddy to extremes in ideology that bordered on manic. “While recruiting a woman to help carry out one of his schemes, Liddy tried to convince her that no one could force him to reveal her identity or anything else against his will. To convince her, Liddy held his hand over a flaming cigarette lighter. His hand was badly burned. The woman turned down the job.”

That refusal to join Liddy’s team was an indication of sanity. No completely rational person behaves as Liddy did in that or any other circumstance.

Manic charisma

Liddy’s crazed brand of commitment to cause and manic charisma grew a great following among conservatives as he became a popular media personality. “Liddy learned to market his reputation as a fearless, if sometimes overzealous, advocate of conservative causes. Liddy’s syndicated radio talk show, broadcast from Virginia-based WJFK, was long one of the most popular in the country. He wrote best-selling books, acted in TV shows like “Miami Vice,” was a frequent guest lecturer on college campuses, started a private eye franchise and worked as a security consultant. For a time, he teamed on the lecture circuit with an unlikely partner, 1960s LSD guru Timothy Leary.”

Liddy never hid even his most dire intentions, even illegal motives: “Liddy became known for such offbeat suggestions as kidnapping war protest organizers and taking them to Mexico during the Republican National Convention; assassinating investigative journalist Jack Anderson; and firebombing the Brookings Institution, a left-leaning think tank in Washington where classified documents leaked by Ellsberg were being stored.”

History shows that Liddy worked to subvert the legitimate dealings of government on behalf of Nixon. After serving time for his crimes, he decide to plant roots of public distrust in the government and even law enforcement agents. “In the mid-1990s, Liddy told gun-toting radio listeners to aim for the head when encountered by agents of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms. “Head shots, head shots,” he stressed, explaining that most agents wear bullet-resistant vests under their jackets. Liddy said later he wasn’t encouraging people to hunt agents, but added that if an agent comes at someone with deadly force, “you should defend yourself and your rights with deadly force.”

It is no wonder that an America fed such rhetoric for so long grew immune to the use of high-powered, cop-killing weapons such as AR-15s when men like Liddy were spouting anti-government rhetoric over the decades. Liddy normalized such violence in the minds of millions of people. He made them believe that violence equals patriotism and freedom.

Fascist roots and violent instincts

Liddy’s autocratic attitude and fascist roots fueled his violent instincts. These he spilled into the American dialogue without remorse or responsibility. We can draw a straight line from Liddy’s unhinged rhetoric to the brute nature of Trumpism and the insurrection at the Capitol driven by domestic terrorists, white supremacists and stark-raving nationalists claiming.the higher ground even while they devastated law officers charged with protecting the elected official inside.

One can easily imagine G. Gordon Liddy masterminding such a coup, just as he tried to do way back in the 1970s.Trump preached to his followers in advance of his attempted sedition, “Come to DC. It will be wild!”

Trump’s level of corruption exceeded even President Ronald Reagan’s administration, one of the most corrupt in history with a pile of indictments and convictions left behind. The leading contender for Most Corrupt was Colonel Oliver North, who engineered the Iran-Contra affair and then went on to preach in mega-churches that he’s always been on God’s side.

Generations of lies

The liar in chief Donald Trump made a career exploiting cognitive dissonance in his followers.

A significant portion of America has spent several generations worshipping the wrong kind of heroes. That political bulwark Pat Buchanan claims this backwards philosophy of elevating criminals and corrupt bigots to top-level posts is pointing the country in the right direction. In a column titled “Trump–Once and Future Kind,” he praises the ex-president for his supposed success in economic terms. “Trump succeeded in enacting the traditional GOP platform of low taxes and deregulation, producing record-low unemployment — before the pandemic hit”

But Buchanan exhibits cognitive dissonance in his failure to even mention how Trump instantly spoiled economic prospects by selfishly denying the portent of the pandemic because he feared any deleterious effects to the economy. The result was a pandemic that spilled out of control, resulting in the need for economic lockdowns at the state level to assist overwhelmed healthcare systems. Trump’s lack of vision and stubborn claim that the pandemic was not a threat––despite his own admission to Bob Woodward that it was––directly caused the downfall of his supposed plans for prosperity. Trump has no one to blame but himself for his failure as a President.

Yet Trump speciously claimed the election itself was fraudulent because he could not imagine that so many would show up to vote against his despotic lies and political deceptions.

Blame Bush and Cheney, if anyone

Trump liked to blame all of America’s problems on President Barack Obama. But actually, the endless wars and drain on the economy caused by the economic recession under Bush took every effort by Obama to reconcile. He was largely a success at that, and won a second term despite constant Republican obfuscation.

Obama could not cure all of Bush’s mess because the GOP never admitted they were the primary cause. The feckless administrative style of George Bush depended on the direction of Dick Cheney, mastermind of the doctrine that led our country into the war in Iraq under false and badly miscalculated pretenses. That cost the country $7T in Iraq alone, all while torturing and killing its residents in the supposed name of peace. That war was America’s greatest failure, worse in many respects than the Vietnam debacle fifty years before.

All this misguided saber-rattling impoverishes the nation yearly, with a military so bloated by waste that a recent investigation into its accounting procedures resulted in a “no-contest” from the accountants hired to do the job. “We can’t even begin to figure out where the money goes,” was the summary issued, and I paraphrase, but that’s the outcome.

It all comes back to the toxic misappropriation of honesty and truth by men like G. Gordon Liddy, Oliver North, Dick Cheney and Donald Trump. They are all men raised to believe in themselves as a higher power unto itself. Those who believe in them are worshipping the wrong kind of heroes.

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