Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, December 11, 2008

Bush Medal for Nixon Felon

In one of his last presidential acts, the Compassionate Conservative pinned a medal yesterday on Richard Nixon's Watergate hatchet man, Chuck Colson, for "sharing the message of God’s boundless love and mercy with prisoners, former prisoners, and their families."

In the season of Scrooge and redemption, it would be surly to see anything autobiographical in the gesture, but...

Just as Bush himself discovered God after half a lifetime of hell-raising, Colson in a jailhouse epiphany rehabilitated himself into Religious Right respectability after a career as Nixon's White House counsel, the brains behind the Watergate break-in and countless other assaults on the rule of law.

William F. Buckley, the now sainted conservative, summed up the general skepticism about Colson's conversion thus: "Those among us who consider themselves most worldly...treat [it] as a huge joke, as if W. C. Fields had come out for the Temperance Union. They are waiting for the second act, when the resolution comes, and W. C. Fields is toasting his rediscovery of booze, and Colson is back practicing calisthenics on his grandmother's grave."

But Bush is a True Believer in redemption for such as the holy man who rallied support for the war in Iraq, condemned the outed Deep Throat as a traitor to the FBI and recently signed a full-page ad backing Proposition 8 and accusing gays of "anti-religious bigotry."

Colson's rehabilitation is a family thing: In 2000, Jeb Bush as Florida Governor reinstated the rights taken away by Colson's felony conviction, including the right to vote.

In the award of the Presidential Citizens Medal, Colson is cited "for his good heart and his compassionate efforts to renew a spirit of purpose in the lives of countless individuals."

It's not hard to see why the Bushes would want to honor that.

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