From the New York Times’ feature, Op-Ed at 40 :
Goings On in the Barnyard
By E. B. WHITE, August 15, 1973
When The Times asked me to report on what’s being said in my barnyard about Watergate, I immediately sought an audience with the goose. She is sore at me at the moment but is always willing to talk.
ME What is your feeling about Liddy?
GOOSE G. Gordon? One of the greats — a man of enormous verve, a bungler of immense promise. Liddy should be president.
ME Should Nixon resign?
GOOSE Yes. He should resign in favor of Liddy, who is one of the greats. Liddy carries a gun, which is what the Oval Room needs.
ME But Liddy is in jail.
GOOSE I know that, and the jail has been revitalized by his presence. The inmates love him.
ME Do you think justice was obstructed?
GOOSE Of course. Justice was obstructed along with everything else. The purpose of the executive branch is to obstruct. That’s why we need Liddy in there.
E. B. WHITE was the author of “Charlotte’s Web.” He died in 1985.
I don’t remember this op-ed from 1973. Of course, in 1973, I didn’t spend much time reading op-eds, so my not remembering it comes as no surprise. But I wish I had read it.
Today, it reminds me of the way we viewed the executive branch of government, with all the power of the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution and the imperial uniforms of the White House guards. The harder Tricky Dick pushed his power, the harder some of us pushed back. America, love it or leave it. There was the silent majority long before the moral majority, and Richard Milhous Nixon was their leader. We had long hair, love beads and went around barefooted.
The purpose of the executive branch is to obstruct justice. Back then, it would have sounded like a nefarious threat. It makes more sense to me now. Back then, it would have been a reason to riot. Now, it clarifies what needs to be done. The power of the Presidency is fiat, unilaterally focused on accomplishing whatever comprises its agenda. On good days, it will benefit the people. On bad days, Dick will rub his hands together with glee. On many days, it won’t be quite clear whether they are good or bad. It’s all according to who you talk to.
But no matter which day it is, the purpose of the executive branch is to be effective, to obstruct justice. It’s the purpose of the judicial branch to catch those functioning under the executive branch, those obstructing justice, and stop them. Perhaps this is what’s meant by the phrase “Officer of the Court.” This is our job.
I miss E.B. White.