Saturday, March 12, 2016

Remember When Reagan Nominated an Anti-Labor Lobbyist of a Neo-Nazi, Pro-KKK Propaganda Machine?

by Nomad

President Reagan 1981 Early in Reagan's first term, the administration suffered a minor setback with one of its nominations. The problem? The nominee's work with an organization that had long been a propaganda machine for the most extreme right wing and dangerous organizations.



Beware The Ides of March

On 30 March 1981, two events in Washington occurred: one  of them stunned the nation. The other event was completely overshadowed the other and is largely forgotten today.

On that rainy afternoon, at about 2:30. President Reagan was leaving a speaking engagement at the Washington Hilton Hotel in Washington. Waving to the small crowd, the president stepped out onto the sidewalk on his way to his limo. Before he got there, an attempt was made on his life. 

Reagan and three others were shot and wounded by demented attacker John Hinckley, Jr.
The FBI said the weapon was a Saturday Night Special that Hinckley purchased last October for about $25 in a pawn shop in Dallas - the city where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963.
It was not immediately apparent how seriously Reagan's injuries were.
Only a few days before the assassination attempt, vice president George H. W. Bush received the assignment of running crisis management in case of emergency.
On that day, Bush was out of Washington, in Ft. Worth/Dallas as it turned out. Believing that the president had escaped intact, Bush flew on to make a speech in Austin.

With the vice president on his way back, the Secretary of State  Alexander Haig, in an effort, to calm things down told reporters that he was in control.  
As of now, I am in control here, in the White House, pending the return of the vice president and in close touch with him. If something came up, I would check with him, of course.
As a war hawk, Haig's declaration sent a shiver down the spines of a lot of people. With his long military history in wars like Korea, Vietnam and as the Supreme Allied Commander Europe commanding all U.S. and NATO forces in Europe, his words should have been a comfort.
The world held its breath.
Reagan's hawkish comments about the Soviet Union had some world leaders uneasy and with this attempt on his life, nobody was ready to predict the US reaction.

An Hour Earlier

Less than an hour before the attempt on the president' life, something far less earth-shaking had happened. As was expected, the White House spokesman announced the nominations for many of the second-tier positions in various agencies.

Amongst the batch, Reagan's choice for the Assistant Secretary of Health and Human Services was Warren S. Richardson.

At the time of the announcement, Richardson was already serving as a special assistant to Richard S. Schweiker, the head of the HHS.
Republican Schweiker, formerly a U.S. Representative (1961–1969) and a U.S. Senator (1969–1981) from Pennsylvania, had been appointed by Reagan to head the HHS.
Reagan 1976 button

The ties between the men were extremely close. So close in fact, that Schweiker had been slated to be Reagan's vice president in his unsuccessful 1976 bid for the Republican nomination against incumbent President Ford.

The position as head of the HHS was critical to the Reagan conservative agenda. He was tasked with reforming (which in the new age of conservatism meant, cutting) Social Security, reducing Medicare. He was also tasked with setting new limits on food stamp grants to the states, and restricting welfare eligibility.

The slashing of government assistance was part and parcel of his policy of erasing what conservatives saw as an out of control welfare state. Government was the problem, Reagan had said many times.
The election of 1980 had, as Republicans claimed, provided the president with a mandate to clean up the abuse and dependence on handouts by the poor.
Naturally, it was a high-risk move and would require distancing the president from any possible fall-out.  

Foreshadowing of Storm Clouds

In terms of a Richardson nomination, the appointment seemed non-controversial and cut and dry. Richardson's resume, at a superficial glance, to be in keeping with the New Right agenda.

The announcement of the selection read:
Mr. Richardson is a professional lobbyist who has been involved in a number of lobbying campaigns. He was chief lobbyist for the Associated General Contractors, the Liberty Lobby, the National Right-to-Work Committee, and the National Lumber Manufacturers' Association. For the past 3 1/2 years he has managed his own independent lobbying firm, Richardson, Randall and Associates. Previously he served as an attorney in the Justice Department and the General Accounting Office.
For the Reagan era, it was the kind of background that people expected and the Right would appreciate.

One example was Richardson's work as chief lobbyist for National Right-to-Work Committee (NRTWC). Many saw this lobby group as a Big Business front aimed at destroying once and for all the power of organized labor.
(For a more complete history of the NRTWC and its founders click here.)

When it came to finishing off labor's hold on industry, the lobbyists for Big Business were remarkably successful too. According to research conducted in 1962, Richardson's affiliation with the NRTWC began as far back as 1961.

The modus operandi was to turn the workers against the union leaders. Lobbyist helped to push Right to Work laws which limited the authority of the unions over such things as mandatory union dues and terms of union membership. 
Supporters of such laws claimed the laws backed up the right of employees to decide for themselves whether or not to join or financially support a union. 
Short term gains at a long term loss. A worker cannot think of long-term strategy. He thinks of his wage  and how to squeeze a little more out of every paycheck. This was something the Right to Work laws use to the advantage of Big Business.

Pro-Labor Reagan Speech Campaign 1980How Reagan Betrayed Organized Labor

Richardson's nomination exposed Reagan's deceptive rhetoric, as well.
In a campaign speech in Liberty, New Jersey on Labor Day 1980, less than a year before, candidate Reagan had made a speech praising labor unions.

Referring to Polish shipyard workers under Lech Walesa's leadership, Reagan said:
They remind us that where free unions and collective bargaining are forbidden, freedom is lost. They remind us that freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. You and I must protect and preserve freedom here or it will not be passed on to our children and it would disappear everywhere in the world. Today the workers in Poland are showing a new generation how high is the price of freedom but also how much it is worth that price.
Now, after receiving labor's endorsement and winning the election, he was nominating a man who had successfully lobbied for laws which critically weakened labor unions and the power of collective bargaining. 

It was hard not to be cynical. during his campaign Reagan had promised that if elected, "that the voice of the American worker will once again be heeded in Washington."

Reagan's true agenda was, his critics said, slowly being unveiled to the American public.

Reagan air Traffic Controller
By August 1981 with the firing of strikers of Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), there was no doubt how Reagan felt about unions and the American worker. The unions had been suckered by a con artist posing as a candidate.

As president, he argued that the air traffic workers strike was illegal and, therefore, he had every right to fire them if they didn't quit their legal action. A surprising number of Americans agreed with the president's hard line. 

However, Reagan had already forgotten his pre-election salute to Polish workers whose Solidarity trade union strike was just as illegal, according to the Polish government.

The Larson Nexus

In any event, Richardson's lobbying activities with the NRTWC presumably had him rubbing shoulders with some interesting personalities. Those people were influential figures in other movements.
One of those people was a man named Reed Larson.No one person can be credited with breaking the power of organized labor in the US than Larson.

Reed Larson Right to WorkFor decades, Witcha-born Larson had been the director of the National Right to Work Committee (NRTWC). So, it's extremely implausible to think Richardson did not have close contacts with Larson.
Let's take a close look at Larson's history.  

Larson had entered politics through the local branch of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Kansas, In the 1950s, this organization, a commonly-understood front for Big Business, was "in the midst of a publicity program linking the New Deal programs, labor unions, and subversives as undermining the free enterprise system." 
The word "subversives" could be translated from right-wing speak into "Communist infiltrators," a red-hot topic in the time of Joe McCarthy.

Larson ran a right-wing project by the name "Operation Economy," which “directed distribution of literature to 40,000 employees of Wichita business concerns urging economy in government.”
(In less than a generation, these ideas would form the theme of presidential candidate Reagan's speeches.)

In 1954, Larson was named the executive vice president of the new Kansans for Right to Work. Through his work, the Right to Work law passed in his state four years later and Kansas was just one of many states to pass these union busting laws, all under the banner of giving workers a choice.  

In July 2003, four decades after that, Larson's lifelong commitment to destroying the power of the unions was honored on the floor of the House of Representatives. 
Rep. Marilyn Musgrave from Colorado, considered one of the most corrupt members of Congress in 2005 and 2006 by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW), applauded Larson's "unwavering dedication and tireless action on what should be every American's birthright, not to be forced to pay tribute to a labor union in order to get a job."

One thing that Musgrave failed to mention in her homage to Larson was that Larson had also been an early leader of the John Birch Society (JBS) in Kansas- a radical ultra-conservative organization. 
It was not a coincidence and Larson was by no means an exception. The phrase "hand-in-hand" comes to mind.
The National Right to Work Committee shares numerous affinities with the John Birch Society, and both are mainstays of ultraconservative organizing stretching back into the 1950s. Edwin S. Dillard was the National Right to Work Committee’s first chairman back in 1955, and he became an endorser of the John Birch Society after it was founded in 1959.
One source claims
The collaborative relationship between the National Right to Work Committee and the JBS continued at least through the 1970s.
A 1961 Washington Post article made that connection:
"The leadership of the Birch Society overlaps heavily with the leadership of the organizations that successfully campaigned in 1958 for a right-to-work amendment to the State Constitution. "

Papa Koch, the JBS and the Nazis

Several other founders and early leaders of the NRTWC were at the same time members and leaders of the JBS. One such person was none other than Rock Island Oil and Refining Co. President Fred C. Koch, father of the Koch brothers. Koch was actually a co-founder of the JBS while at the same time leading the charge to pass Right to Work laws in the state.
John Birch Right to Work Koch
Tycoon Fred Koch certainly had a colorful background but it wasn't a reputation that many Americans would have found particularly honorable.

Koch, the New York Times reminds us, found some of his earliest business success in the US but overseas in the years leading up to World War II. He made a fortune working with the Nazis. And these were not in insignificant deals either.
One venture was a partnership with the American Nazi sympathizer William Rhodes Davis, who, according to Ms. Mayer [author of the book “Dark Money,”] hired Mr. Koch to help build the third-largest oil refinery in the Third Reich, a critical industrial cog in Hitler’s war machine.
If Mayer is correct, without Koch's participation, the Nazi tanks could not have run across Europe willy-nilly, destroying nations and installing fascist regimes and murdering 6 million Jews. 

(Important notice: Do not skip over the above link to William Rhodes Davis, a relative of African business-imperialist Cecil Rhodes on his mother's side and of Confederate president Jefferson Davis. Trust me, it's a keeper. The significance of that link will become even more important in a moment.)

As interesting- or suggestive- as these links might be to the researcher, in the end, it boils down to a Richardson as a man who lobbied for organizations with a bit shady backgrounds. 
It's Washington, it happens. If you care about moral principles you should avoid lobbying and politics altogether.

But there was something else lurking in the Richardson CV that really set tongues a-wagging. For some more well-informed citizens, one detail  on Richardson's resume stood out like a sore thumb.
That was Richardson's work as general counsel and chief lobbyist for an organization called Liberty Lobby from 1969 to 1973.  
What was the significance? you might ask.

To understand that, we have to take a closer look at what Liberty Lobby was and who ran it. 

Liberty Lobby Willis Allison Carto

The Pressure Group for Patriotism

To call Liberty Lobby a political advocacy organization is not wrong but it kind of misses the point.
It's like calling the bubonic plague a type of bacterial infection.

Founded in the late 1950s by Willis Allison Carto, Liberty Lobby depicted itself as "a pressure group for patriotism" and "wholly dedicated to the advancement of government policies based on our Constitution and conservative principles." Its motto was "eternal vigilance."

Some people less admiringly called it a powerful neo-fascist group. Whatever your opinion, there's no arguing that in its heyday, the organization had an extraordinary influence, particularly among the extreme right wing. 

According to Sourcewatch, Carto had also once been involved with the John Birch Society, but his extreme views, particularly his anti-Semitism, were too much even for Birchers.

In a minor purge, Birch founder, Robert Welch, reportedly asked Carto to resign. Imagine getting booted from the Birch Society for extremism? Carto's ideas were considered a threat to the Birch Society's respectability.
The real question is whether Carto's notions were too extreme or too openly-expressed.
How extreme could that possibly be is hard to imagine but let's say, Heinrich Himmler would have felt quite comfortable having tea and scones and long, long chats with Carto.

In his own organization, Carto promoted four basic themes: Jewish world domination and international Jewish conspiracy, White racial and cultural superiority, to be maintained by segregation and eugenics, extreme anticommunism, and Spenglerian themes of Western decline and decay.
Between 1975 and 2001, Lobby published a magazine newspaper called  The Spotlight to act as a sounding board for Carto's ultra-conservative views.

The Spotlight was a kind of a forerunner of the Alex Jones Info-Wars operation in print form, or as one writer puts it "the National Enquirer for the Far Right."  
But the material found in the periodical, with a readership of between 200,000- 350,000 in its prime, went well beyond the usual right wing excesses. The Jewish conspiracy and especially the Zionist control of the mainstream media were always hot topics.

Some of the hot headlines found in print: "The Diary of Anne Frank is a Fraud" and "Soviet Spy in the White House." 
Holocaust denial was a constant theme for The Spotlight with headlines like "Famous 'Gas Chamber Victims' Living Well," "Need $50,000? Find a Holocaust Victim," "Torture Used to Make Germans 'Confess.'" 

One Jewish organization also claimed The Spotlight ran articles theorized that 
Auschwitz victims were cremated to control typhoid, that the "gas chambers" were actually life-saving delousing showers, that the Diary of Anne Frank was a hoax and that Jews created the six million number to convince the United Nations to support the creation of Israel.
KKK March
According to another source, the Washington Post described The Spotlight as...
a "newspaper containing orthodox conservative political articles interspersed with anti-Zionist tracts and classified advertisements for Ku Klux Klan T-shirts, swastika-marked German coins and cassette tapes of Nazi marching songs."
The Spotlight also accused Supreme Court Justice Warren Burger of voting "with the other leftists on the court to increase race-mixing." 
Fears of the black man, objections to interracial marriage and forced desegregation of schools and other public institutions all played well with the readers.
"The fanatics still demand total mixing. They won't be happy until all race are melted into the UN's brown man."
It was a Communist plot, Carto claimed, and his followers were more than ready to believe him. 

According to American human rights activist Leonard Zeskind's book, Blood and Politics: The History of the White Nationalist Movement from the Margins to the Mainstream, The Spotlight had been indispensable to the white supremacist movement as a whole- particularly during its first decade of publication.

KKK Leader David Duke
Zeskind mentions Spotlight's positive coverage to organizations and causes as diverse as David Duke's Knights of the KKK in 1975, the defense of shooters at Greensboro after 1979. (In that event, five protest marchers were murdered by members of the Ku Klux Klan and the American Nazi Party at an anti-Klan rally.)
Zeskind writes:
"Liberty Lobby had been the largest and most significant voice for the mainstreaming tendency, it had also been an essential part of the infrastructure for the entire [white supremacist] movement."
Carto's publishing house, Noontide Press of Costa Mesa, California and published such titles as Germany Reborn, by Herman Goering; The Myth of the Twentieth Century, by the prominent Nazi ideologue Alfred Rosenberg; and The Inequality of the Human Races, by Comte Arthur de Gobineau. Other titles included Paul Rassinier's (1978) Debunking the Genocide Myth: A Study of the Nazi Concentration Camps and the Alleged Extermination of European Jewry.
Another on the list of books published by Noontide was the 1969 book, The Myth of the Six Million, the Bible for holocaust deniers. Originally published anonymously, the author,   Prof. David L. Hoggan eventually came out of hiding to sue Carto for publishing the book (written in 1960) without his permission.

Holocaust Denial KKKIt also printed the writings of Francis Parker Yockey which glorified the Nazi regime and castigated the Zionism of the Jews. Yockey's 1948 book  Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics, dedicated to "the hero of World War II" (Adolf Hitler) served as Carto's guiding ideology.

His publishing house reportedly distributed copies ''the infamous anti-Semitic forgery, Protocols of the Elders of Zion'' which claimed to be a document showing how Jews planned to seize control of all governments.
A Neo-Nazi reading list, in other words.

Hate Speech Radio

In addition to the print media, Liberty Lobby ran a radio show which aired on 470 stations daily, and a television commentary program which reached 37 cities. At the time Reagan took office, Carto and his network, was, as one source tells us, a formidable force within the Right. 
Carto's propaganda machine is being taken seriously by a growing number of rightists.
It had not come without some stumbling blocks and challenges. One of the most difficult times came in spring of 1974. At that time,  there were formal objections by Jewish groups to the kind of content regularly broadcast by the Liberty Lobby's network.
A letter-writing campaign began targeted local radio stations and their advertisers.

According to at least one source, Jewish business owners also threatened to pull their advertising from the Mutual Broadcasting Network if it continued to broadcast Liberty Lobby's show.

The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) claimed (rightfully) that the anti-Zionist and general hate speech violated the Fairness Doctrine

Under the Federal Communications Commission’s 1948 Fairness Doctrine, licensed broadcasters were required both to present controversial issues of public importance and to do so in a manner that was—in the Commission's view—honest, equitable, and balanced. (That's where Fox News' deceitful "fair and balanced" claim comes from.)

The ADL reportedly complained to the FCC that 73 radio stations had violated the terms of the Fairness Doctrine with its Liberty Lobby broadcasts. Predictably, Liberty Lobby charged that it was a Zionist conspiracy to stifle free speech. 

In addition, Liberty Lobby countered by filing a lawsuit against the ADL and MBS, alleging that the parties had conspired to restrain trade in violation of federal anti-trust laws. The case was dismissed in 1976 and was appealed in 1978 without success. 

That was not the end of the matter though it seemed like it at the time.
In Reagan's second term, on August 4, 1987,  the FCC voted unanimously to abolish the Fairness Doctrine. In making his announcement of the FCC decision, Reagan could have been reading from a Liberty Lobby's newsletter. 
"This type of content-based regulation by the federal government is, in my judgment, antagonistic to the freedom of expression guaranteed by the First Amendment. 
Exactly the same argument that Liberty Lobby had used.
As a result of Reagan's decision, hate radio and Fox News were effectively literally given a license to spread extremist and anti-government propaganda for the Right Wing.
The airwaves there was now an unregulated voice for radical extremists.

Liberty Lobby in Congress

Richardson's lobbying efforts came at a time when Liberty Lobby was able to exert a lot of pressure on members of Congress. Through its network and newsletters, it could broadcast pro or con message to the electorate over vast areas of the Mid-West.

Portraying itself as an underdog against a Zionist conspiracy, or against a Communist-controlled government and a Jewish-owned mainstream media, it had won the trust of millions of Americans. That translated into significant political power at a local level.

Just prior to the time Richardson was hired as a lobbyist for Liberty Lobby, syndicated columnist Drew Pearson published a November 1966 newspaper article that exposed the organization. In the article which ran across the country, Pearson named four Congressman who publicly supported the Liberty Lobby and its agenda.
Each of them had accepted "Statesman of the Republic” award from the Lobby for their right-wing activities. The article explained:
They have participated in Liberty Lobby rallies with right-wing radicals, promoted the Lobby in speeches and letters, introduced material prepared by the Lobby into the Congressional Record, and swallowed its un-American propaganda.
California’s Utt even solicited subscriptions to the Lobby's propaganda sheet “Liberty Letter." He signed an appeal, addressed to “Dear Patriot,” which was mailed out to 100,000 people. "Liberty Lobby,” he wrote, "consistently works in the halls of Congress to oppose the the international socialist takeover. Its 50,000 conservative activists form a letter writing brigade which has already made its influence felt in several crucial votes."
Dyed in the wool conservative, Congressman Utt had also voted against the Civil Rights Acts of, 1964, and 1968, and against the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Here's how one won awards from Liberty Lobby. Utt claimed, in 1963, that "a large contingent of barefooted Africans" might be training in Georgia as part of a United Nations military exercise to take over the United States. In that same year, he also claimed that African-Americans might be training in Cuba to invade the United States.
(It might sound hilarious today, but there were just as many paranoid and credulous Americans then as there are now.)

Liberty Lobby was much more than a crackpot radical group with a newsletter and a lousy disposition. It commanded real power in Congress and, in terms of attempting to set up a grassroots organization, was very much like the latter-day Tea Party, financed by the Koch brothers. 
Given the connections, that similarity, one could reasonably argue that the Liberty Lobby was the proto-Tea Party.

Congressman Larry McDonald
Around 1980, one Democratic Congressman from Georgia, Larry McDonald had his own encounter with Liberty Lobby and was not afraid to talk about it.

His account  gives us a better picture of the kind of work Richardson might have done for Liberty Lobby. 

Carto and his lobbyists in Washington must have thought McDonald would be an easy mark. He was from Georgia, a conservative with views in favor of fiscal restraint, states rightsgun rights, and was pro-life
On top of that, McDonald had been member of the national council for the John Birch Society since 1966 (and would go on to become its Chairman in 1983.)
  
However, MacDonald was unpersuaded by Liberty Lobby's strong arm tactics. Even after a series of high-pressure meetings with lobbyists from Carto's group, McDonald refused to make an endorsing statement for Liberty Lobby. He politely dismissed them but that wasn't the end of the scene. McDonald later revealed:
They started becoming abusive and began saying that I have been a dupe of Zionist agents.
In the kind of plot twist that conspiracy theories are built upon, less than two years later, McDonald would be dead. He just happened to be among the 269 passengers on board Korean Air Lines Flight 007 when it was shot down by Soviet interceptors.

The Alleged Plot

In the amoral world of Washington lobbying, it's always a case of climbing into bed with some shifty characters and shady organizations. Few adults can be naive enough to think high morals apply among paid representatives of special interests. 
It is very possible that Richardson was not at all interested in the Liberty Lobby message. In that case, it was only a matter of very poor judgment. 

(Putting things into the  proper perspective, we should also recall that at least one member of the Supreme Court had been a confirmed member of the KKK. Yet Justice Hugo Black also voted in Brown v. Board of Education that segregation in public schools is unconstitutional.)

However, during the time Richardson was with Liberty Lobby,  the organization- if reports are accurate- became more than just a propaganda machine. 
According to a report by the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) of B'nai B'rith, Robert M. Bartell, the chairman of Liberty Lobby's Board of Policy, was involved and presided over a very secret 1970 lobby fundraiser for a project called "Operation Survival." 

While ADL couldn't reveal their sources behind its allegations, the information was presumably collected from an insider acting as a mole.

Bartell reportedly asked for help in raising $400,000 annually from the 50 influential right-wingers in attendance. The names, unfortunately, were not listed. How much money in total was raised or where the money eventually wound up is anybody's guess. 

The ADL alleged that the funds were to go for a right-wing military dictatorship in the US. An article from 11 February 1971 in a Jewish newspaper provides some tantalizing details.

According to the ADL's director, Bartell told the selected guests that Liberty Lobby had been in the process of "surveying top army brass to develop "friends." The donations would  be earmarked for covert efforts to "mobilize and utilize forces and persons of influence." The money would also help pay for an emergency communications system for nationwide "patriotic" broadcasts.

Where the truth lies, and what the exact nature of the operation might have been will probably never be determined. Whether it was actually a conspiracy or simply a con game aimed at raising cash, it's hard to know. The charges, at least, were serious.
In any event, Bartell denied the ADL charges. 

Importantly, that 1980 ADL report came out ten years after the events. This would have been was the time that Richardson worked as a lobbyist for the organization.

The Gejdenson Offensive

By mid-April 1981, Richardson's nomination was in serious doubt. On 17 April, the White House ordered a report from Health and Human Services Secretary Schweiker on Richardson.

Democrat Sam Gejdenson from ConnecticutThe Reagan administration's choice was heavily criticized by Democratic Representative Sam Gejdenson from Connecticut as well as two Jewish organizations. Of Richardson's boss, Liberty Lobby, Rep. Gejdenson said:
''Its publication, Spotlight, espouses white supremacy and refers to the holocaust as a Jewish myth. Richardson's association as chief lobbyist for Liberty Lobby disqualifies him for any job in the U.S. Government, including his present one.''
When Richardson was called upon to explain his career decisions, he told chiefs at HHS that after joining the organization, he realized soon that it was "anti-Jewish and racist" but didn't quit right away because he needed the job.
In his memorandum, Richardson said that he took the Liberty Lobby job during a period of "stressful family circumstances," when his wife had been injured in an auto accident that ultimately necessitated five costly operations.
At about the same time, he said, his 14-year-old daughter had enrolled at the University of Maryland and he needed to drive her there. The pay at Liberty Lobby was extremely good, he said -- 50 percent "more than my current salary."
It was the kind of excuse that a traitor might use to explain his perfidy.

He added that in the intervening years, he often regretted having not resigned earlier. Many were not impressed. Regrets came easy to Richardson but only in hindsight.
And no wonder, the revelations about his work with Liberty Lobby threatened not only his nomination but his position at HHS in any capacity.

In a private memo, he wrote:
"In retrospect, it became clear to me long ago that it was wrong not to have quit earlier. ...I apologize for my inaction to all who have felt the vicious racist and ethnic stings of the Liberty Lobby. I never participated in those Liberty Lobby activities. I never agreed with them. I found them then, as I do now, to be vile."
Gejdenson was not buying it. It was more than a political point, calling out Liberty Lobby  was more of a personal mission. He had been born in a displaced persons camp in EschwegeAllied-occupied Germany in 1948.
He was not going to accept half-hearted apologies from people who should have known better.

Final Straw

Things turn an even worse turn for Richardson. The Congressman produced a May 1971 New York Times article which seemed to show that Richardson's role was not quite as mercenary or passive as he was now suggesting.
The Washington Post noted at that time that the article appeared to tie Richardson to some of the organization's positions.
In the article, opposing U.S. intervention in the Mideast, Richardson wrote: "Liberty Lobby will not tag along with the cowards who would rather countenance another national disaster than brave the screams of the pro-Zionist 'free press' in America."
When confronted, Richardson claimed this sentence was inserted without his knowledge.

Perhaps that's true. The people at Liberty Lobby might not have been above such a thing. Robert Bartell from Liberty Lobby made an attempt to support Richardson.
'I was here, and its extremely likely -- almost certain -- that what Warren said was the fact. Precisely who did it I don't know.
'I think it would be almost standard for any large organization where policy is determined by any number of people for this to happen. He was not in a policy-making position. He was our chief lobbyist.
However, that alibi does begs the question that if the article that appeared in 1971 used his name without his authority to promote opinions he flatly and vehemently disagreed with, why then did he stay for two more years? Is that really a reasonable scenario? Many people found it implausible.

The Trickle Down Fallout

The revelations of Liberty Lobby affair spread to Richardson's boss, Schweiker. There would have to some explaining to do. Had Richardson been hired with full knowledge of his past lobbying activities?
How was he vetted? Who was responsible?
David Newhall, Schweiker's top aide, said he knew Richardson as a lobbyist for other groups and called him a 'decent, honorable man.' Newhall, who screens appointments for Schweiker, said he did not know what the Liberty Lobby was.
According to the news report, sources close to Newhall thought Liberty Lobby was " a group promoting the Liberty Amendment to abolish the income tax."
As opposed to a powerful proto-Nazi organization that denied the Holocaust and claimed Jews were taking over the world and demanded that blacks be sent to Africa.

A simple slip up in the vetting process for such an important position in government seemed improbable.
*   *   *
In the end, Warren Richardson  proved to be the first casualty of the Reagan administration. The public outcry was becoming an embarrassment and a distraction for the White House. There were other considerations, like Reagan's supply-side economic plan. (Otherwise known as trickle-down.)

John Birch, Liberty Lobby,  Right to WorkOn April 25, less than a month after Reagan announced the nomination, Richardson asked the HHS to strike his name off the list. He also resigned from his position as Schweiker's special assistant.

In less than two years, both Newhall and Schweiker would also be gone, out of politics and, with a silent sigh of relief, out of the spotlight.
As disheartened as they might have been, conservative Republicans (and quite a number of Democrats) must have been cheered that the controversy was being disposed of so cleanly. It could easily have opened up a can of right-wing worms, with conspiracies of connections and influence.  
Had the nomination gone forward as announced, it would have meant a confirmation battle that would have forced the administration into an uncomfortable political position.
Furthermore, the less said about Liberty Lobby and its activities in Washington, the better it was for everybody. Both Democrats and Republicans preferred not to explore the influence of Liberty Lobby over American politics.


Reagan's Standing Ovation

On the day that Richardson's career in politics officially ended, President Reagan- now recovering from his attack and surgery- returned to the Oval Office.

Upon entering he was greeted by a standing ovation from his Cabinet and other members of his staff. He told them in characteristic self-deprecation, that he ought to be thanking them for carrying on so well without him.

After all, what was a president without his carefully-chosen staff? Where would he be without thousands of largely unrecognized officials in minor positions making decisions in his name?

According to many historians, the attempt on Reagan's life had some critical consequences.
Firstly, Reagan reportedly came to believe that his survival was proof that God had greater plans for him. His narrow escape was ordained by the heavens and many of his evangelical friends were close at hand to assure him that it was a message from God.

In turn, Reagan's relationships with Christian Right evangelists would soon complicate Reagan's ability to deal with the AIDS crisis which would make its appearance in July 1981, just four months later.

Secondly, his approval rating soared to around 73% and it never got higher for throughout his tenure. (By January 1983, it was at its lowest point of 35%.) 

It was just the impetus Reagan needed to push his new economic program based on the untested "supply-side" theory, later to be known as Reaganomics (and later still, trickle-down). By December of 1981, serious doubts were being raised about Reagan's budget and his economic policies in general by none-other-than his own chief economic advisor, David Stockman.

Whatever political damage the Richardson- Liberty Lobby story might have had on the Reagan administration's image, it had  all been washed clean by the  failed attempt on the president's life.  

But that was only the beginning of the whitewashing of the Reagan legacy. It continues right up to today.
And that's what makes the Republican establishment's labeling of Donald Trump so amusing and hypocritical. As if Trump was the source of right-wing extremism in the Republican party. 

In fact, these fascist tendencies within the conservative movement- the one the Republicans are howling about in front-runner Donald Trump- have been right under our noses all along -back to the glory days of Reagan- and nobody seemed to notice.

Until now.


No comments:

Post a Comment

This blog uses Disqus as a commenting service. We invite you to become a member and join the discussion.

Repost.Us

Sharethis

/span>