There is no way to pick a mud ball up by the clean end.
That may seem like a harsh way to start a blog post concerning the news that someone has died. But let us be honest about the matter.
Chuck Colson was not the type of man you would have wanted your daughter to marry, and not the type of person that should have had any influence or connection to the man elected to lead the free world.
Readers to this blog may know I have a long-time interest in Richard Nixon, and find him to be one of the most interesting and complicated men to ever sit in the Oval Office. Even though I respect Nixon’s intellect I have never let him off the hook for his conduct that can never be abided.
Nixon had some truly low-down and scandalous men around him who played to his darker instincts. At a real level Nixon knew who he was hiring, and what they were capable of doing.
Chuck Colson was one of them, and today he died at the age of 80. That the convicted Watergate figure turned all evangelist and righteous has no impact on me in regards to how he acted when given a chance to play near the largest stage in the nation.
Known as an “evil genius” in the White House is not something to be proud of, and yet that is the label Colson chose to wear. There is no way of squaring Colson’s past actions away by his finding religion.
I fully understand that Richard Nixon allowed the mess to start and fester in his administration, and accepted the ultimate responsibility for what happened by resigning. But I also know there was no follow-up to the opening of China and the move to détente with Russia in the first term of the Nixon years . Due to nut-cases such as Gordon Liddy and Chuck Colson playing to the dark side of “the old man” we will never know what might have happened.
I would have loved to seen what foreign policy moves and outcomes could have happened in a full second term of a Nixon White House. I think the Cold War with the USSR would have looked much different had Nixon been allowed to continue his policy goals.
While one needs to hold Nixon accountable, there is no way not to also hold Colson also up to the light of history.
Many will try to spin Colson into a redeemed man.
Perhaps I read too much history but Chuck Colson will always be the man who pleaded guilty to efforts to discredit Pentagon analyst Daniel Ellsberg. It should be noted that Ellsberg stated in an interview that Colson never apologized to him. That statement alone speaks volumes about Colson the Christian..
Perhaps more than any other idea of Colson’s that should never be forgotten was his plan to firebomb the Brookings Institution and steal documents while firefighters put out the blaze. There was also the idea that Colson had to hire Teamsters to beat up war protestors.
When someone has a chance to get near the process of effecting change in the nation they had better plan to do right by the people. When they chose to undermine and cajole and manipulate, or in the case of Colson play a whole series of dirty tricks, then they lose all rights to have a glowing obituary.