As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Newsmakers 1972

Fox News Sunday opened today with the question "Are we saving the economy or heading toward socialism," (By the way, we're not.) featuring such pearls as Richard Shelby blaming the Obama Administration for legislation passed in the fall of 2008, during, um, the Bush Administration. But I was more interested in one member of the panel, Fred Malek, listed as the head of "Thayer Capital Partners." I knew I'd heard that name before, and David Corn jogged my memory.

It's one of the more gothic stories about Nixon related in Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's The Final Days. As they tell it, late in 1971--the same year, coincidentally, that the Washington Senators moved to Texas and changed their name to the Rangers--Nixon summoned the White House personnel chief, Fred Malek, to his office to discuss a "Jewish cabal" in the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The "cabal," Nixon said, was tilting economic figures to make his Administration look bad. How many Jews were there in the bureau? he wanted to know. Malek reported back on the number, and told the President that the bureau's methods of weighing statistics were normal procedure that had been in use for years.

In 1988, when George Bush pere installed Malek as deputy chairman for the Republican National Committee, Woodward dusted off his notes and, with the Washington Post's Walter Pincus, further revealed that two months after Malek filed a memo on the matter--he'd counted 13 Jews, though his methodology was shaky--a couple of them were demoted. (Malek denied any role and said Nixon's notions of a "Jewish cabal" were "ridiculous" and "nonsense.") The 1988 story raised a predictable ruckus, and Malek beat a hasty retreat from the RNC. As exiles go, Malek's was pretty painless. He still got to run the 1988 Republican Convention (and in 1992 he would be Bush pere's campaign manager). He joined George W. Bush's syndicate to purchase the Rangers, he went on the board of the American-Israel Friendship Society, he took over Northwest Airlines, and he started an investment firm, Thayer Capital Partners.

"Nixon's Jew counter" for some reason never came up on Malek's chyron today.

Malek's just one of those upwards-falling Republicans in Washington. Actually I found the Corn piece because he was discussing Malek's hiring as finance co-chair for the McCain campaign. The DC establishment finds keeping one of these guys going through the revolving doors of power perfectly normal.

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