They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To

There were two political obituaries on Friday. Tennessee senator, Howard Baker, was the better known.

The other was Johnnie Walters, who became commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service on August 6, 1971.

Maybe “political obituaries” is the wrong word? Might these have been among the last of the nonpolitical obituaries?

Senator Baker, a Republican, famously asked, during the Watergate investigation, “what did the president know and when did he know it?”

The president in question was Richard M. Nixon, also a Republican.

When seeking candidates for IRS Commissioner, the Nixon tapes revealed that he said to aides Bob Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, “I want to be sure he is a ruthless son of a bitch, that he will do what he’s told, that every income tax return I want to see I see, that he will go after our enemies and not go after our friends. Now it’s as simple as that. If he isn’t, he doesn’t get the job.”

Walters got the job without knowing the required “qualifications.” He too was a Republican.

Read Emily Langer’s obituary Johnnie Walters, IRS commissioner under President Richard M. Nixon, dies at 94 to see how he reacted.

“Once in office, by all accounts, he refused to participate in the administration’s attempts to use the tax agency for political purposes — most notably, to intimidate through audits or threatened audits the individuals on the Nixon ‘enemies list’.”

Is it possible to imagine a person in a position of public trust today choosing to act like Howard Baker or Johnnie Walters?

They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To. In some cases, that is a good thing. In others not so much.

3 Responses to “They Don’t Make ‘Em Like They Used To”

John A. Murphy, June 28, 2014 at 2:15 pm said:

I think people like Howard Baker and Johnnie Walters can still be found in today’s political life. Their ethical behavior and moral courage needs to be encouraged. The system should be adjusted so that pandering to special interests avails the panderer nothing.


Jim Schutze, July 01, 2014 at 4:43 am said:

So I guess Haldeman and Ehrlichman walked into the hall, and Haldeman said, “He won’t remember any of this an hour from now.”


Haven Pell, July 01, 2014 at 10:20 am said:

If I recall correctly they certainly used those words on other occasions. Nice to hear from you, Jim.


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