THE TERRORS OF JUSTICE: The Untold Side of Watergate by Maurice H. Stans

THE TERRORS OF JUSTICE: The Untold Side of Watergate

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In Blind Ambition, John Dean describes Maurice Starts as the only man in the Nixon administration who could beat Bob Haldeman in efficiency--he is, says Dean, ""a man who glances frequently at his watch."" No one ever charged Stans with participating in the Watergate cover-up, but, as the very efficient head of Nixon's re-election finance committee, he was accused--along with John Mitcheli--of accepting illegal contributions, and was acquitted. In this indignant effort to further establish his innocence, he keeps posing rhetorical questions which add up to this: How could a scrupulous CPA from Chicago with no head for politics get into this mess? His background is made to sound like a Republican dream. Born into a poor ""hard-working, God-fearing"" immigrant family in Minnesota--and given to avid reading of Horatio Alger--Starts went to Chicago, studied nights, and became an accountant. Twenty years later, he was a former president of the national accountants' association, head of his firm, and a millionaire. Exactly how he managed that is not too clear, but it is properly impressive. For the rest, he spent some time as Deputy Postmaster General--a notoriously partisan department--and as Director of the Budget before becoming Nixon's finance chief in his California gubernatorial and 1968 presidential campaigns, but he is most proud of his stint as Commerce Secretary, which preceded the fateful 1972 election. It is easy to believe that Stans was in the dark about Watergate--with efficient Maury handling the money, everyone else could work full-time on the sleazier stuff. And even if he soft-pedals his reputedly heavy-handed contribution-hustling (all that money and no carrot and stick?), Stans/ hair-splitting talents probably did keep him on this side of legality. But, like his cronies and their colleagues, he has no idea of the distinction between legal and ethical, insistently defending everyone concerned on the basis of the ""small crimes"" involved and the unfair harassment of innocents like himself. He even raises the bogey of McGovern socialism. Another feeble shot in the Watergatenik counterattack.

Pub Date: Nov. 20th, 1978
Publisher: Everest