Spiro Agnew

If you’re still filling out your tax forms, it may be tempting to cut some corners and tell a few white lies. But as the ethics-deficient politicians listed below can tell you, tax evasion doesn’t end well. Here’s a guide on “what-not-to-do,” courtesy of political figures, past and present.  Spiro Agnew. The only vice president to resign due to criminal charges, Agnew left office in 1973 just ten months before Richard Nixon’s departure would have made him president.

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Jonathan Bernstein fisks New York Times political analyst Matt Bai. First, Bai: What all this probably means is that we are living in the era of the upstart. Thirty years ago, when you needed a party infrastructure to make a serious run for higher office, taking it to the establishment was quixotic venture undertaken on the national level, where a Jesse Jackson or a Pat Buchanan could at least make a powerful statement along the road to obliteration.

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Against Common Sense

Conservatives would have us believe that they hold a monopoly on common sense. Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Bill O’Reilly, and many other right-wing rabble-rousers regularly portray themselves as defenders of the good, old-fashioned common sense of average Americans against an out-of-touch liberal elite.

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George Milhous Bush

Last week the Bush administration reached its Nixonian climax, as CIA director Michael Hayden confirmed that the government had nearly drowned some people on purpose using techniques that American military men have long known as torture. Attorney General Michael Mukasey said the Department of Justice could not investigate these alleged crimes. White House spokesman Tony Fratto explained why the President may authorize them again. Vice President Dick Cheney declared them a good thing.

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The Southern Coup

When the new Republican Congress was sworn in last January, the South finally conquered Washington. The defeated Democratic leadership had been almost exclusively from the Northeast, the Midwest and the Pacific Northwest, with Speaker Tom Foley of Washington, Majority Leader Dick Gephardt of Missouri and Majority Whip David Bonior of Michigan in the House, and, on the Senate side, Majority Leader George Mitchell from Maine. The only Southerner in the Democratic congressional leadership was Senate Majority Whip Wendell Ford of Kentucky.

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Life in the Stone Age

Louis Menand: Checks, drugs, and rock 'n' roll.

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NOT SO LONG ago, intellectuals seemed to be the most picked-on weaklings in the school yard of American politics. When George Wallace ran for president in 1972, he blamed "pointy-headed intellectuals" for everything from rising crime and changing sexual mores to busing and the stalemate in Vietnam. Vice President Spiro Agnew had exploited the same theme in 1970 when he attacked the country's "effete corps of impudent snobs," those "nattering nabobs of negativism" who opposed the Nixon administration. Two decades earlier the vocabulary was different but the mood was similar.

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NOT SO LONG ago, intellectuals seemed to be the most picked-on weaklings in the school yard of American politics. When George Wallace ran for president in 1972, he blamed "pointy-headed intellectuals" for everything from rising crime and changing sexual mores to busing and the stalemate in Vietnam. Vice President Spiro Agnew had exploited the same theme in 1970 when he attacked the country's "effete corps of impudent snobs," those "nattering nabobs of negativism" who opposed the Nixon administration. Two decades earlier the vocabulary was different but the mood was similar.

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Working It Out

In late September and early October, when the President and his principal associates appeared to have persuaded themselves that he was going to survive the scandals that continued to beset him and Vice President Agnew was saying that he would never resign and that the charges against him were "damned lies," the atmosphere at the Nixon White House was a strange mix of confidence and of a quantity that was close to but not quite despair.

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