Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Sam Ervin, Watergate and the N.C. State upheaval

When N.C. State Chancellor Jim Oblinger resigned Monday following a series of revelations about his role in the hiring of former N.C. First Lady Mary Easley, one thing many people found difficult to believe was that he could not remember that role until he saw the e-mails he had sent during his discussions about her hiring back in 2005. Those emails were among materials N.C. State released to federal investigators who had requested them.

It stretches the imagination to believe that the former chancellor could not remember discussing with other State officials the hiring of the wife of a sitting N.C. governor.

But Oblinger is hardly the only public official to profess no memory of involvement in certain matters. Thirty-five years ago this summer, the Watergate affair was raging in Washington, and U.S. Sen. Sam Ervin of Morganton, D-N.C., had been at the center of congressional investigations into what happened after the Nixon White House had taken part in a coverup of the Watergate Hotel break-in at Democratic Party headquarters. Ervin's Senate Select Committee on Presidential Campaign Activities had grilled a number of Nixon's henchmen, many of whom testified that they could not recollect specific events during that shabby episode. The episode eventually led to the resignation of President Nixon after the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled that he had to release secret tape recordings of much that was said in the oval office.

That prompted Ervin, a colorful character with a host of good stories about the human condition and the frailties of man, to remark that it sometimes was better to have "a good forgettery than a good memory."


Anonymous said...

The news media, including the Observer is expert at "it sometimes was better to have "a good forgettery than a good memory." No matter how many violent crimes they commit, they news media worships athletes. They should publish their arrest record next to their win/loss record.

Anonymous said...

Howard Baker's famous Watergate comment is also applicable: What did the President know and when did he know it?

David McKnight said...

I tell you what, for anyone who cares to ready my comments as one who reveres the tradition of legendary leadership by Dr. Bonnie Cone at Charlotte College and then in the school's early years as UNC Charlotte: James Oblinger really accomplished a lot for N.C. State during his tenure as chancellor.

Dr. Oblinger kept the reputation of North Carolina State moving up and up during his years at the helm, and there is much in his record of leadership and accomplishment which deserves to be reported on by the news media if reporters will seek a balanced assessment of his tenure at State.

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