On the face of it, the link looks seriously overblown. Howard Hunt and Gordon Liddy led a shambolic dirty tricks team directly overseen by Nixon’s Attorney General that ran a series of lurid operations including luring political opponents with prostitutes, attempts to destroy political party conventions, and carrying out break-ins of journalists and political opponents.
Cameron Slater runs a blog.
If the commentariat can’t see the difference between a blog post and a break-in, we can only despair.
That said however,on a level deeper than the superficial non-similarities pointed to by the regular critics, with all their wild mud-slinging, there is a connection to which they are and will always remain blind. The real connection is not so much dirty trick s or Judith Collins’s alleged enemies list; the real connection is ideology – or, to be precise, the lack of one.
If there is something that links Jason Ede, Cactus Kate, Cameron Slater, Carrick Graham and all the others exposed in (let’s not forget) Cameron’s stolen emails, it is the idea that ideas don’t matter. This exposure is apparent not just in the stolen emails, but in virtually every attack post Cameron and Cactus have ever published. It’s not a battle for ideas, but a battle for scalps. They don’t attack the ideas of their opponents, they attack their opponents themselves. Thus they are led not to attacking, say, outrages against individual rights committed right out in the open, but to looking for dirt, however risible, that may be found somewhere in the shadows. The triviality of the first, a bottle of wine in the case of Adam Feeley, reveals the level of the horizons of these folk trying to make the world safe for something they call the “centre-right.”
Part of the reason is that there is little ideologically that divides the so-called “centre-left” and “centre-right” – certainly not at this election, where either the two major parties could just as easily sign up to their opponents’ policies as their own, and when the ruling party has done precisely nothing in six years to overturn the flagship policies previously implemented by its opponents.
So when a battle of ideologies is out, what is left but a battle of attack dogs. Oblivious to the process by which people form ideas, they instead attack individuals scalps – ignoring that such attacks have no power, except with those who already share their intellectually barren worldview.
If there is something that links these people to Nixon and his White House Plumbers, it is this disinterest in ideas, and the consequent obsession with dirty tricks.
Both the President and all the President’s Men who fell with him were ideologically vacant – guided not by ideas but by range of the moment reactions. This was a President who called for polls to decide whether or not to bomb Haiphong harbour, and then waited for the results while his minions worked to skew those very polls. A President whose chief domestic adviser confessed at the Watergate hearings that he should never be considered an “ideas man.” Whose adviser’s lieutenant, John Haldeman, “looked upon himself not as an 'issues' man but as a technician and organiser."
For what use would ‘issues’ or ideas be to such people? For them, politics wasn’t a battle of ideas at all: it was a battle of warring political tribes.
Ayn Rand explained Cameron and Cactus and these other entities some years ago
As a rule, it is an accident whether the smart young intellectual wheeler-dealers .. turn to the Left or to the Right [as they enter politics]…
It is not a matter of political principles. What principles? Pragmatism has taught them that there are no such things.
But the big dilemma for all the pragmatists of the Right, is: what are they to fight and by what means, if principles are inoperative? Politics is a field in which one deals with ideas and it requires the ability to argue, to discuss, to persuade. What does one do in politics if one has discarded the whole realm of ideas? One fights men.
Just as Team Key’s bloggers did, and just as Nixon’s young pragmatists did who bungled the burglary that exposed them all. All of them were all too happy to sign up to such a battle.
Readers can get a sense of the stunted world-view of these entities by reading the autobiography of the man who “organised” the Watergate burglary, G. Gordon Lilly. (Called without irony, Will, reviewers at the time called the book “a comedy masterpiece.” It’s that and much more, even if all the comedy was unintentional.) Liddy and his fellow “soldiers” in the Committee to Re-Elect the President, a semi-autonomous organisation run out of their Commander-in-Chief’s White House and dubbed by its own troops CREEP, signed up not to an intellectual crusade, but to a battle they called “rat-fucking”.
Such ‘technicians’ [observed Ayn Rand] would know that one is supposed to fight, at election time. What would be a pragmatist's idea of a fight? Ideas—he has been taught—are impractical, it is only immediate events that count; what is true today, may not be true tomorrow; rigid values are childish, cynical ‘flexibility is mature. People—he has concluded—don't think; people are not interested in ideas, only in scandal, they do not care about the good, only about some sensational exposé of somebody's evil.
“Thus the younger, more impatient pragmatists would come to believe that bugging, spying, burglary, in pursuit of somebody's scandalous personal secrets, are more effective than years of speechmaking about ‘issues.’ Pragmatism is a philosophy of action, of the ‘now. The mentality of the activists of the Left, becomes, on the Right, the mentality of the Watergate conspirators.”
There is no evidence that Cameron and his “centre-right” comrades have used bugging, spying and burglary in the pursuit of their various political campaigns. The burglary by which their behaviour is being revealed comes from and on behalf of the lunatic left (about which their ideological allies in the commentariat are unremarkably silent). But the mentality described above is shared by all these warriors of the so-called centre-right, whose intellectual barrenness is revealed in every attack post focussed not on the failed ideas of their opponents, but only on adding to their own trophy wall.
For them, politics isn’t a battle of ideas; it is a battle of warring political tribes.
And tribalism, as an idea, is busted.