Here’s yet another riveting read from Jimmy Breslin, a book I had never heard of, that changed everything I ever thought I knew about the impeachment of Richard Nixon and US politics in general: How the Good Guys Finally Won: Notes From an Impeachment Summer.
With consummate skill, Breslin takes us to the grey courtroom where disgraced Attorney General John Mitchell is sentenced to prison along with a cadre of coconspirators, to the offices where the articles of impeachment were prepared, to the House of Representatives, where the illusion of power is power, to the precincts in Cambridge where Thomas P. O’Neill was first elected to Congress.
The book gives what were for me astonishing insights into the career of Tip O’Neill who was, along with John Sirica, another Breslin pal, chiefly responsible for the victory of the good guys in 1974.
The Watergate break-ins, you see, were a tiny irrelevancy, though very handy, to the massive crimes that were being committed all over America. The Nixon government used every branch of government that they could influence to extort money from anyone doing business in the USA.
Not only that, they targeted every donor to the Democratic Party, including George Steinbrenner, and initiated IRS audits, Commerce Department investigations, etc., etc. to compel them to become “Democrats for Nixon.” It was a shakedown on a national scale, engineered by Maurice Stans, and it was Tip O’Neill who first realized this.
Jimmy Breslin met with a primary opponent of Nixon in 1972, an anti-war Republican candidate named Paul “Pete” McCloskey and introduced him to prospective donors in New York.
Breslin was later able to supoena documents that showed that the attorney general of the United States was reading reports of his (Breslin’s) fundraising efforts for McCloskey — everywhere they went that evening.
Is that what the people of the United States pay the attorney general to do?
Then Breslin was audited by the IRS. Your tax dollars at work.
All this aside, this book is a series of riveting Jimmy Breslin stories that gave me a completely new insight into the proceedings that saved our fledgling republic from a nationwide network of graft and corruption.
To the spirit of Thomas Phillip O’Neill Junior, I offer a heartfelt tribute. And to Jimmy Breslin, I offer thanks for yet another riveting read.