Pat Buchanan can always be counted on to be tough on crime and criminals. Unless, of course, those “criminals” are either accused Nazis or his old cronies.
And it is that second exception that prompted Pat to dedicate his latest column to trashing Mark Felt on the occasion of his passing. Felt was a top FBI official at the time of Watergate, and revealed himself as “Deep Throat,”the primary source for Woodward and Bernstein’s stories. He kept his identity silent for 30 years, only stepping forward toward the end of his life. And now he has passed on.
Felt had multiple reasons betraying confidences. In one of Tom Clancy’s novels, the author summed up the motivations of such people with the acronym “MICE”: Money, Ideology, Conscience, and Ego. Felt claimed that it was conscience that motivated him, but many believe that Felt’s Ego was involved because Nixon had passed him over for the FBI directorship.
Regardless of why Felt did what he did, Buchanan does a poor job in denigrating Felt’s deeds. As Buchanan sees it, Felt should have tried to work within the system to expose the petty misdeeds of the Watergate conspirators.
To achieve this remarkable position, Buchanan has to take certain liberties with reality. For example, he downplays the actual “original sins” of Watergate, up to and including the actual break-in and attempted phone tapping that gave the whole corrosive episode its name. Buchanan needs to sidestep the inconvenient reality of the situation: Felt was out of favor with the administration, and directly in his chain of command — the people Buchanan thinks he should have reported to — were FBI Director L. Patrick Gray and Attorney General John Mitchell. Gray was an outsider, a Nixon crony brought in from the Justice Department to head up the FBI, who recused himself from the investigation when the ties to the White House became apparent. And Mitchell was involved in the cover-up all the way to his eyeballs.
No, Felt was no saint. But Pat Buchanan needs to just go away.