Sunday, December 12, 2010

Ghosts of Wikileaks Past

Casting for a 21st century take on "A Christmas Carol" is coming along nicely. Julian Assange, the Scrooge who doesn't hoard but gives away everybody else's stuff, is in chains. And right on schedule, enter Richard Nixon, the ghost of Christmas Past, to rattle on with "Bah, Humbugs" about everyone in sight.

Unlike the contents of Assange's Santa bag, the Nixon stuff is being spilled by his own Presidential Library in the latest dump of self-recorded maundering by the only Unindicted Coconspirator ever to occupy the Oval Office.

Lest Nixon and Assange seem an unlikely Scrooge and Marley, they share a basic quality over the decades--paranoia, a simmering distrust and hatred of a world of "they," those others who secretly rule the universe and make life impossible for right-thinking heroic figures such as themselves.

During the Nixon years, I lived on the other side of a Connecticut hillside from Dr. Arnold Hutschnecker, a crackpot psychiatrist who was later revealed to be the President's secret shrink. When military helicopters came swooping in, neighbors would shrug and say, "Nixon must be flipping out again."

The slow leak of his tapes confirms that jokey surmise--in spades--as Nixon rants in private, the only American president of Quaker (Friends) parentage who ended up compiling a secret Enemies List.

Now we have his wisdom on racial and ethnic traits. After John F. Kennedy had cleaned his clock in 1960, Nixon reveals that "the Irish can't drink...they get mean. Virtually every Irish I've known gets mean when he drinks. It's sort of a natural trait."

Decades after Martin Luther King had inspired a Civil Rights Act by his predecessor, Lyndon Johnson, Nixon confides that it will take 500 years for African-Americans to achieve equality because, even though "they are strong physically and some of them are smart...they have to be, frankly, inbred. And, you just, that's the only thing that's going to do it."

As for Jews and Italian-Americans, don't ask.

With these reminders that we once had a Nutsy Fagan in the Oval Office for five years, the Assange movement of "hacktivism" that will make him Time's "Person of the Year" seems more benign.

So let's enjoy the season of sharing. Ho, ho, ho.

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