Friday, September 12, 2008

McLobbyist transition team head was ultimate Nixon insider

There has been a bit of eye rolling and amusement at “presumptuous” McCain picking the ultimate Washington insider lobbyist to head his transition team. But (hat tip to Rick Perlstein) there is a deeper and more sinister connection and bit of news about one William E. Timmons, Sr. that hasn’t gotten mentioned much, if at all.

That is - Timmons was Nixon’s chief congressional liaison and was known as Nixon’s congressional lobbyist.

OK, fine, so he was only lobbying Congress on behalf of a President who resigned in shame after impeachment was hanging over his head.

Or not. Seems as though a conversation between Timmons and Nixon was part of the “White House Tapes” that was noted in the book, Abuse of Power - and the discussion focused on Timmons and Nixon strategizing on how to push members of Congress (and who to push) with respect to conducting “investigations” .

In one conversation on July 2, 1971, Nixon and Timmons talked about the House Internal Security Committee, its members, and who Timmons should contact in order for the committee to “resuscitate itself” and conduct a half assed investigation with its’ Senate counterpart instead of having people convicted of conspiracy in the leak of hte Pentagon Papers.

Audio clip of this discussion is here, and a partial transcript is below:

President Nixon: Yeah. Well, now, how would that committee be, you think, to conduct an investigation of this conspiracy. You know what I mean?

Timmons: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Far better than having these people indicted and so forth, is really to call them before a committee and say, “Now look, did you do this or that or the other thing.” You know?

Timmons: Yeah.


President Nixon: Do you think Ichord would be—now, he’s running for governor, I understand, isn’t he?

Timmons: Mm-hmm. Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: Don’t you think he ought to be willing to take a thing like this.

Timmons: I would think so. It’d be some headlines for him.


Timmons: You want me to set that in motion or . . .

President Nixon: Well, why don’t you—

Timmons: [Unclear.]

President Nixon: —yeah, why don’t you do a little . . . do a little sniffing around or something to see whether they’d like to . . . . Well, look, first of all, it can’t be from me, of course.

Timmons: Sure.

President Nixon: But what I’m getting at is, it would seem to me that this is an opportunity for that committee to resuscitate itself.4 You know what I mean?

Timmons: Mm-hmm.

President Nixon: It can become a very valuable committee now. They just call them up there.

Timmons: Mm-hmm.


President Nixon: What do you think?

Timmons: I think it’s a great idea. I had talked to [White House Political Operative] Chuck Colson just briefly about this—

President Nixon: Yeah. Yeah.

Timmons: —a week or so ago. I think it’s tremendous. In the Senate, you know, on the Government Operations Committee there’s a subcommittee on national security and international operations.

President Nixon: Yeah. Who’s that?

Timmons: It’s chaired by [Senator Henry M.] Scoop Jackson [D-Washington].

President Nixon: Yeah, but do you think Scoop would be willing to go—?

Timmons: I don’t. I doubt it. I just don’t know.

President Nixon: I don’t think he would. I wouldn’t rec—

Timmons: Messing around with the Senate, you know?

President Nixon: —get—Ichord’s people should step in and preempt this field.

Timmons: Mm-hmm.

Now, obviously there is a lot here, and we don’t need to repeat all that was said or get into a lengthy explanation into the relationship between Timmons and Nixon, or how Timmons became a lobbyist or who he lobbies for (although FireDogLake has an excellent post on that) or that he has been involved in pretty much every republican administration since Nixon.

But when McCain has tossed aside campaign themes as he has with his ex-wife or his honor when he returned from Vietnam, having gone from “experience”, to “country first” to “I’m not really that out of touch with everything” to “even though I’ve been around the same Washington establishment that brought failed conservatism, corporate favors being given out like candy and aggressive foreign policy, I’m really about change”, he picks someone to head up his transition team that:

  • Is known as the Washington insider in the republican establishment;

  • Has been involved with the Washington insider establishment for close to 40 years;

  • Knew of Nixon’s trying to improperly influence Congress to whitewash an investigation into the Pentagon Papers case;

  • Was involved in the plans to improperly influence Congress to whitewash the investigation; and

  • Headed Nixon’s legislative affairs office and lobbied Congress to not impeach Nixon (even toasting Nixon on the day he resigned).

This is the type of person that John McCain wants in charge of his transition team. In fact, this is the person that John McCain wants in charge of his transition team.

Clearly, McCain has left his honor in Vietnam.

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