The president Tweeted Monday: “Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don Jr attended in order to get info on an opponent. That’s politics!” This was a shortened version of the answer the president gave during his press conference with the French President last week. “Politics,” he said, “is not the nicest business.”
He’s right. Politicians have done some grim things in pursuit of the office. President Franklin Roosevelt was a philanderer, nevertheless, he pushed aides to use his opponent Wendell Wilkie’s affairs to hurt him. He even tutored aides on how to spread rumors without getting caught. “We can’t have any of our principal speakers refer to it, but people down the line can get it out,” he said.
In 1968, then-candidate Richard Nixon worked with the South Vietnamese to slow the peace talks in Paris. Had they gone forward, Nixon thought the prospect for an end to hostilities would help his rival Hubert Humphrey. Nixon denied this, but John Farrell in his new book on Nixon has the goods. H.R. Haldeman, Nixon’s right hand man, was taking notes with the other hand. In the notes, Haldeman records Nixon’s orders to work through their channels to slow peace progress.
But there have also been times in politics when people did the opposite: behaving morally when it was easier not to.
In 1964 when Johnson’s aide Walter Jenkins was arrested for soliciting sex in a YMCA bathroom, his Republican rival Barry Goldwater’s staff wanted to make it a character issue in the campaign. Goldwater said no. He didn’t want to ruin Jenkins. In 2000, Tom Downey, a top aide to Democratic nominee Al Gore received his rival George W. Bush’s debate briefing book. He turned it over immediately to the authorities. In 2008 …read more
Source:: The Atlantic – Politics