Deep Throat: The Two Major Loose Ends

· dKo journal

Mark Felt is going to publish a final “tell-all” book soon, and Bob Woodward is also going to publish his final wrap-up on Watergate. What could conceivably come out of these?
Well, there remain at least two major loose-ends to the story, one Major and the other Huge.
Major: Thomas Eagleton. He was the vice-presidential running-mate who came out of the Democratic convention with George McGovern. At that point, McGovern’s momentum was extremely high. I think McGovern was still the front-runner at the time. (I’m not going back to re-research my old files, as I suppose I really should–my apologies.)
Soon after the convention, there was a leak of Eagleton’s medical records, easily available to Presidential authority–even from IRS returns and government Health Plan records. They showed that he had been treated (hospitalized?)for depression. (I remember thinking a depressed President was exactly what we do need in America: “War? I don’t really feel up to it today. Try me again next week.”)
The normal expectation was that Eagleton would voluntarily step down, for the good of the party. But he did not. He left McGovern twisting day after day, saying it was up to him. This forced McGovern to fire him over his somewhat mature and courageous confronting of a psychological setback in his life. McGovern’s big momentum immediately disappeared.
(Curiously, Nixon and Eisenhower had had a similar contretemps. Nixon’s southern-California big-money backers had been supplying him with a secret, unaccounted for, “slush fund.” When this came out, Eisenhower privately urged Nixon to step down voluntarily, but Nixon refused. Instead, he went on television with his famous “Checkers” speech. The slush-fund was all frugality and innocence, and he was not going to give up his little dog Checkers, whom his daughters loved so much. This played so well, that he won a lot of sympathy, and Eisenhower publicly embraced him once again.)
Huge. Governor George Wallace of Alabama. Wallace had run as a segregationist third-party candidate in 1968, taking so many votes away from Nixon’s first run for President that Hubert Humphrey came quite close to winning the election for the Democrats.
Wallace repeated this venture in the 1972 Watergate election. But he was shot by an attempted assassin, and partially paralyzed (“curiously martyred from the waist down,” I wrote at the time.) He then withdrew from the race. It was the subtraction of his vote that made the difference between Humphrey’s close loss in 1968 and McGovern’s landslide loss in 1972.
The circumstances around this shooting were suspicious. The shooter, Arthur Bremmer, had been identified and tracked by the Secret Service as a threat, but had not been thwarted. And after the shooting, the Secret Service managed to be the first to identify, locate, and get to Bremmer’s apartment–to sift for evidence–with a blinding speed that stunned and mystified the nationwide FBI and local agencies who would normally have been first on the scene.
The most cynical conspiracy theorists–myself, for example–thought Bremmer had been enabled to slip through normal security safeguards in a way that allowed him to turn a close race into a landslide win for Nixon.
Deep Throat, operating in the FBI, might not have had access to information on this, one way or the other. But, if he does happen to be saving it for his own book, it would be one last blockbuster Watergate story, even after all these years gone by.