Thursday, June 26, 2014

Obituary: Howard Baker, Jr.

One-time senator from Tennessee and Reagan chief-of-staff Howard J. Baker, Jr., 88, has died.

Baker is best remembered for being on the Senate Watergate Committee back in 1973 investigating President Nixon and others involved in the Watergate conspiracy and was admired for being fair. He was also remembered for his famous question of "what did the president know, and when did he know it" or words to that effect.

Baker was the son-in-law (from his first marriage) of a great Republican, Senator Everett Dirksen of Illinois, a man who was pro-Vietnam War but he also supported many policies that would brand him a communist today by the batshit crazy mutants calling themselves Republicans. Baker himself would no doubt be branded as such. It's truly disgusting how far the party has fallen, and the Democratic Party is going the same goddamned way.

Baker was also a son-in-law of another noted Republican, Alf Landon (a candidate for president back in 1936 but got buried in a landslide by FDR), through his marriage to former Kansas senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum, but Landon kicked the bucket long before Baker married her.

After he left the Senate, he worked in the Reagan administration as chief-of-staff during the president's second term. I would say, in truth, Howard Baker was actually a co-president with the "other Baker," James Baker, since Reagan was starting to show early signs of what ultimately became Alzheimer's disease. The Bakers basically ran the show, unless you want to count First Lady Nancy Reagan as also running things.

When he was named vice chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities — the Senate Watergate Committee formed to investigate the 1972 break-in at Democratic National Committee headquarters in the Watergate office building — Republicans were confident that the second-term southerner and trial lawyer with the boyish look and aw-shucks manner would defend the White House. His 1972 campaign literature described him as a “close friend and trusted advisor of our President, Richard M. Nixon.”

Baker died from complications of a stroke he suffered Saturday.

No comments: