The Nation: The Man Who Converted to Softball

  • Share
  • Read Later

(3 of 3)

Colson apparently satisfied Nixon's yen for macho operators. He was one of those who talked of "playing hardball" for keeps, and hostile outsiders were not his only targets. He, along with Haldeman, cracked down on more genteel staffers like Communications Director Herb Klein. Though a Nixon friend for more than 20 years, Klein finally resigned. Everything Contrived. His most important role was as a resourceful if unscrupulous political operator. Colson took on the tough jobs for the President. He leaked damaging or misleading information to the press about people who criticized the President, had young men hired to pose as homosexuals supporting McGovern at the Democratic National Convention, and engineered mail campaigns in favor of Nixon's policies. He allegedly ordered his close friend E. Howard Hunt to fabricate a State Department telegram implicating President Kennedy in the assassination of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem. At one point, according to Senate Watergate testimony, he urged that Washington's Brookings Institution be fire-bombed as a diversionary tactic in a raid to seize some politically damaging documents. "Chuck could never play anything straight," says one of his former underlings. "Everything had to be contrived, a setup. Chuck always had to stuff the ballot box."

Some of his ploys worked often enough to keep a newly reformed Chuck Colson repentant for a long time to come. Ironically, Colson had planned to leave the White House soon after Nixon's reelection to become "the Republican Clark Clifford" —the lawyer with the "in" at the White House to whom clients would flock. Now, at 42, he is just another Watergate felon awaiting sentence, disbarment and learning the virtues of softball.

  1. 1
  2. 2
  3. 3
  4. Next Page