In 1973, I was transitioning between my sophomore and junior years in college.
Like so many young men and women at Syracuse University’s S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communication, I followed the story of the Watergate break-in and the growing evidence that the Nixon White House was involved.
When Brent Snowcroft acknowledged to the Justice Department that President Richard Nixon routinely tape recorded conversations in the Oval Office, the nation was stunned. But now, at least, we could get to the bottom of this mess. All we needed to do was listen to the recordings.
Once we could obtain them, that is.
I remember all this clearly and easily. I was between 19 and 20 years of age at the time. The 45th President of the United States was between 26 and 27 years old back then. It seems incredible he couldn’t or wouldn’t remember anything about those singularly historic developments.
And yet, within the last two days, the President has tweeted to former Director of the FBI James Comey and threatened to release certain recorded conversations if Comey testifies in the (as of this writing) ongoing Congressional probes of possible collusion between the Trump Presidential Campaign/Administration and Russia.
Philosopher Georg Hegel once opined that if you don’t want to repeat the mistakes of the past, you have to know history. To ignore the lessons we can learn from the past means we are doomed to recreate them.
And President Trump (just like your humble blogger) has had the opportunity to know these lessons first hand. But it would seem he wasn’t paying attention. His threat to Comey strongly implies that Trump has made such recordings.
Be prepared to hear him attempt to walk the threat back (“I never said I had any recordings, I merely suggested he should hope I didn’t. Actually, I don’t make recordings; they’re so much trouble, so much trouble… But it would have been a terrific idea if I had.”)
So now we have to go round and round the mulberry bush to try and obtain copies of these supposed recordings. And so it goes.
For those too young to remember, eventually Richard Nixon’s recordings were obtained and, once heard, his fate was sealed.
Let us pray that, thanks to Donald Trump’s own monumental ignorance of recent American Political History, the demise of this administration will be just as inevitable.