Yesterday’s news of Robert Bork’s death left most Americans with a vague recollection of the Supreme Court nomination he’d somehow lost out on, if anything at all.
But Bork’s death and legacy meant far more to Gawker editor John Cook, whose post on Bork, hours after the man’s death, left many stunned and appalled.
Cook’s piece leads with: “Robert Bork was a terrible human being and no one should grieve his passing,” then zips into an introduction so peppered with indignation and adjectives I expected a follow up paragraph to acknowledge the fact.
Thankfully I hadn’t held my breath, because Cook had only gotten started and brings readers straight back to the dark and stormy year of 1973, when Bork made history.
President Richard Nixon had finally accepted the fact that his illegal campaigning and wiretapping were to be publicly exposed. In response, he ordered the Attorney General to pink slip U.S. special prosecutors in charge of the case. The acting Attorney General refused and resigned; so did his successor; then came Bork.
It was Bork who, as solicitor general of the United States in 1973, stepped up to the plate and carried out an order from Nixon that two of his superiors found too abjectly corrupt to obey. In what became known as the Saturday Night Massacre, Nixon ordered Attorney General Elliot Richardson to fire special Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox and his entire staff. The order came shortly after Cox had, over the objections of the president, subpoenaed a cache of presidential tape recordings …
Richardson had a spine and character, so he refused, choosing to resign instead of help a liar and a cheat mop up his crimes. The order then fell to Richardson’s deputy, William Ruckelshaus, who likewise summoned the courage to step down rather than fire Cox. As solicitor general, Bork was third in line at the Justice Department, so the order fell to him. Sniveling bootlicker that he is, he carried it out.
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