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My fellow Americans,

It seems that even after an election, candidates (even losers) can still face slander, character assassination, and political attacks.  Christine O'Donnell, the simpleton, teabag senatorial candidate from Delaware (and who is not a witch), is being investigated by the Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) for misappropriation of campaign funds, and using the money for personal expenses.  It’s a serious charge, and one that takes me back to my time as a young, brash candidate facing a similar problem.

In 1952, as candidate for Vice President, I was blindsided by some rumors and whispers coming from Adlai Stevenson’s camp regarding some funny business with my campaign funds.  Let me be perfectly clear: these were completely false, and so of course I denied it.  But the pinkos in the press were out to crucify me and they just wouldn't let up.  Soon even Ike was starting to doubt me.

Now, you have to understand that painting a candidate with a brush of corruption is a political strategy as old as time itself. While I preferred attacking patriotism and character, I also occasionally used the spectre of financial shenanigans.   And even if done in a clumsy manner, say the way the republicans tried to smear the Clintons with Whitewater in the 90's, it is effective.

For the person targeted by these accusations, the trick is in how to combat it. One way is to take the high-road; ignore the charges and hope that doing so denies them any legitimacy and they go away.  The alternative is the aggressive approach in which one vigorously denies them to prove themselves innocent.  In ’52 I first tried the former.  However, ignoring the charge didn’t work because the press kept the accusations alive.  As a result, the pressure mounted and so I was forced into the latter and had to publicly defend myself.

I had to make my case, convince the public and Ike that I was innocent and exonerate myself, or resign as Ike's running mate.  Since I have never been a quitter, and leaving before the election is completed is abhorrent to every instinct in my body, I had no choice. So I demanded and got 30 minutes of TV time to refute the charges.  I knew that this was a one-shot deal. 

When the red-light on the television camera turned on, I began.  I artfully laid out my finances, warts and all, for scrutiny.  I accounted for every cent, showing both the origin and destination of my personal income, and showed where the campaign funds were allocated.  I pointed out how I owned an average car, had a mortgage, and how my wife didn’t have a mink coat but a respectable republican cloth coat.  In other words, I showed that I was just like the Joe Sixpacks and Sally Lunchpails out there watching me: an average Orthogonian being unfairly attacked by privileged Franklins.  Then, as a coup de grace, I admitted to one potentially slight violation of campaign contributions: I mentioned how a donor gave my family a dog, and I stood up with as much fire and grit as I could, choking back emotion, and defiantly stated that since my girls seemed to like it, we were keeping him.  And that dog saved my ass.

Although it was the most effective speech I ever gave and the response was overwhelmingly positive, it was the most humiliating experience of my life.  Easily the bitterest pill I've ever had to swallow - even worse than getting out-schemed by that damned Kennedy in '60 or being mocked by the press in my California gubernatorial defeat in '62. I would have much preferred to have the rumor die quietly.

But Ms. O’Donnell doesn’t seem to be bothering with trying to ignore things.  When news of the investigation broke out, she immediately took the offensive and vehemently denied any wrongdoing by issuing a statement saying the charges are politically motivated.  She’s adopting a scattergun defense, taking aim at everyone from her own campaign workers to Vice President Joe Biden, accusing them all of targeting her in some liberal conspiracy to bring her down, stating,
"You have to look at this whole thug-politic tactic for what it is [...] Given that the king of the Delaware political establishment just so happens to be the vice president of the most liberal presidential administration in U.S. history, it is no surprise that misuse and abuse of the FBI would not be off the table"
Now, on the surface it would seem that Ms. O’Donnell is doing exactly what I did nearly 60 years ago - bravely facing down the charges. Except that her defense isn't one.  Unlike me, she hasn't offered any evidence or facts to prove her innocence.  No financial records or proof of income.  In fact, all she's done is accuse others of ganging up on her.  It's a risky tactic because it's far too transparent and stinks of a guilty person desperately trying to deflect the truth.  

Not only that, but her victimization claim seems shaky. Back in '52 when it happened to me I was an active candidate for Vice President addressing an assault during a hotly contested campaign. O'Donnell has already lost her campaign, having been stomped and publicly exposed as a lightweight, and is fading into the obscurity of being a political asterix.  She’s no more than a punch line to a joke about embarrassing American political campaigns, and has about as much relevance as a half-eaten egg salad sandwich left on a bench in some rural bus depot.

In other words, her claiming to be some sort of victim of a cabal run by evolutionists, masturbators, and papists simply doesn’t make any sense.  A "conspiracy" defense only works for people who are already (or potentially) in a position of power.

Sure, it's completely absurd and makes her seem more of a paranoid nincompoop than she already is.  But, bless her dimwitted heart, at least she’s fighting.  Who cares if she’s doesn't have the capacity to understand that the idea she’s being targeted is ludicrous?  She’s going down swinging and sticking to her pig-ignorance.  Does it matter that she's already admitted guilt by confirming that she spent campaign funds on her rent since she claimed her home doubled as her headquarters?  Not in the least. We already knew she was completely stupid, but at least now we also know the little dullard has guts.  And that’s got to count for something.

My advice to Ms. O'Donnell is to get a dog.   Preferably a Cocker Spaniel.

Nixon Approves