G. Gordon Liddy F*cks His Last Rat
National Lampoon, October 1973. (Art by Dick Ayers, who drew 'Sgt. Fury' for Marvel)

G. Gordon Liddy, who planned Richard Nixon's "third-rate burglary" of the Democratic Party headquarters at the Watergate Hotel and was proud of it, died Tuesday at the age of 90. He will be remembered as a flamboyant asshole who put his loyalty to Nixon above mere laws, and who had no problems with proposing kidnappings and assassinations as part of the "Dirty Tricks" operation leading up to the 1972 election. The only Watergate conspirator not to cooperate with investigators, Liddy also spent the most time of any of them in prison.

Liddy's son, Thomas Liddy, didn't specify a cause of death, saying only that it was not related to COVID-19.

The most fitting epitaph for G. Gordon Liddy can be found in the transcript of Nixon's "smoking gun" tape, in which the man Liddy was willing to kill for dismissively asked HR Haldeman, "I mean, he just isn't well screwed on is he? Isn't that the problem?"

The Washington Post's obituary notes that George Gordon Battle Liddy credited the nuns at his parochial school for at least part of his mindset: "The nuns introduced me to authority. [...] First, God. And then: the flag."

Young Liddy also really thought the Nazis were pretty keen, and said he

felt an "electric current" surge through his body when he listened to Hitler on the radio. To the young Liddy, the führer embodied the "power of will."

Liddy did a stint in the Army, but didn't have to go fight in Korea for medical reasons, though probably not bone spurs. After college, he served in the FBI from 1957 to 1962, but don't go getting any ideas about him being any kind of super-spy, per the Post:

Mr. Liddy wrote that he left the FBI in 1962 because he wanted to secure a more comfortable life for his family. According to former FBI officials quoted by the late journalist and author J. Anthony Lukas, Mr. Liddy was pushed out because he was a "wild man" and a "superklutz."

Also in 1957, he married Frances Purcell, who was such a hottie that he later wrote she looked like a "legendary Rhine maiden." They were together until her death in 2010.

Eventually Liddy became an assistant district attorney and helped prosecute Timothy Leary following a drug bust. Liddy ran for Congress and lost, but as a consolation prize, he "took charge of the Nixon-Agnew campaign in Dutchess County, N.Y., in 1968, and was rewarded with a post as special assistant to the secretary of the Treasury."

From there, Liddy ended up working with the White House "plumbers," to plug leaks, and joined up with E. Howard Hunt to burglarize the office of Daniel Ellsberg's psychiatrist to see if they could find any information on Ellsberg's leak of the Pentagon Papers. He then moved to a job with the Committee to Reelect the President (not officially known as CREEP, but called that all the same) where he made all sorts of wonderful plans to do political dirty tricks against Democrats. Liddy came up with all sorts of brilliant schemes, all with code names of gemstones, but spoiler warning, was only authorized to do one: his plan to break in and plant listening devices in the Democratic headquarters at the Watergate.

Just look at all the terrific ideas CREEP took a pass on, as reported in Fred Emery's book, Watergate:

1) A scheme to kidnap protesters at the 1972 GOP convention planned for San Diego (it was eventually moved to Miami Beach), then drug them and hide them in Mexico. Emery noted that

These sudden disappearances Liddy labeled Nacht und Nebel — the night and fog of Nazi storm-trooper tactics. The charts listed Liddy operatives as a Special Action Group, an SS euphemism for death squad.

2) An operation to infiltrate Shirley Chisholm's presidential campaign, which Liddy codenamed "COAL" because he's exactly who he seemed to be.

3) A plan to lure top Democrats to frolic with prostitutes on a houseboat docked in Miami Beach, and to record the goings-on for blackmail purposes. Could this be the secret origin story of James O'Keefe's 2010 Dildo Lube Boat fiasco?

4) Bugging operations aimed at the headquarters of the Ed Muskie and George McGovern campaigns.

5) "two disruption operations: GARNET for outrageous demonstrations 'supporting' Democratic candidates and TURQUOISE, which called for a Cuban commando team to sabotage the Democrats' convention hall air-conditioning system during the worst of the midsummer heat."

Liddy also offered to assassinate political columnist Jack Anderson, but for some reason didn't get the go-ahead for that, either.

The first Watergate burglary actually went undetected, but when the crew went back a few weeks later to fix a faulty bug, they got caught. As the Post notes, for all his talk of being an excellent spyer, Liddy wasn't so great at operational security:

Unable to find anyone proficient in bugging, Mr. Liddy recruited the CREEP security chief, James McCord, whose links to the White House were easily traceable. McCord's arrest, along with four Cubans, inside the Democratic Party's headquarters shortly after 2 a.m. on June 17, 1972, led to the rapid identification of Mr. Liddy and Hunt.

Liddy kept up his stoic loyal footsoldier act up after being arrested, and told Nixon's lawyer John Dean, "If someone wants to shoot me, just tell me what corner to stand on, and I will be there." Such a heroic guy! The Los Angeles Times notes that Liddy later said, "I was serving the president of the United States and I would do a Watergate again — but with a much better crew."

At trial, he refused to be "a snitch or a rat," because Loyalty, and was ultimately sentenced to six to 20 years of prison. WaPo has another fun anecdote!

As a federal prisoner, Mr. Liddy relished facing down the wardens and gangs who ruled the penitentiary. In his autobiography, he claimed that he responded to racial epithets from African American prisoners by singing the Nazi "Horst Wessel" anthem that he had learned as a boy, celebrating Aryan superiority.

"I don't believe there was a man there who understood one word of what I sang," he wrote. "But they got the message."

That message was, " just isn't well screwed on is he?"

Jimmy Carter, that old softy, commuted Liddy's sentence in 1977, after he'd served 52 months. As the New York Times recounts, Liddy didn't seem particularly penitent after his release:

"I have lived as I believed I ought to have lived," Mr. Liddy, a small dapper man with a baldish pate and a brushy mustache, told reporters after his release. He said he had no regrets and would do it again. "When the prince approaches his lieutenant, the proper response of the lieutenant to the prince is, 'Fiat voluntas tua,'" he said, using the Latin of the Lord's Prayer for "Thy will be done."

He also preferred to be called a "Watergate conspirator" instead of a "burglar," because he didn't actually break in; he was only giving orders. We will instead continue to call him a Watergate shithead.

Liddy later traded on his reputation by playing a bad guy on "Miami Vice," driving around in a car with "H20GATE" vanity plates, and hosting a radio talk show, during which he reminded patriotic Americans in 1994 that when they're attacked by federal law enforcement, they should shoot to kill, and to remember,

They've got a big target on there, "ATF." Don't shoot at that because they've got a vest on underneath that. Head shots! Head shots!

He also bragged about using photos of Bill and Hillary Clinton for target practice, not that it was a threat or anything, and said, "I don't believe I'm fueling the lunatic fringe." He also didn't see any reason to take a less inflammatory tone following the Oklahoma City bombing, because after all, the First Amendment allowed him to say anything he wanted.

All around, a truly fine specimen of American Manhood, whose 1980 memoir Will earned itself a permanent exhibit in the Toxic Masculinity Hall of Fame with its tales of how Liddy toughened himself up by holding a candle flame to his hand until the flesh burned, and overcame an aversion to rats by killing, cooking, and eating one. The book sold a million copies and for a time was a much-beloved work for weaselly young men who thought Liddy was a very cool guy, what with the loyalty and the obsession with Nazis, which they'd quickly insist was about being manly and tough, not at all about any love for fascism. Often they managed to say that with a straight face, even.

Liddy was what Roger Stone always dreamed of being: an utterly amoral political operative who considered winning the only thing that mattered, but who cloaked his contempt for the law and democratic norms in a load of hooey about protecting America from enemies, which made all the scheming OK. Along with Nixon, Liddy was one of many contributors to the encrappening of American life and politics, and may God help us all.

We sincerely hope Mr. Liddy's mortal remains will be cremated over an open candle flame, the end.

[CNN / WaPo / Bloomberg / NYT / Image: National Lampoon, October 1973; art by Dick Ayers]

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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