Sunday, May 30, 2004

Sam and Archibald

That sounds like a name for a comic strip or a 1950’s do-wop combo, but in truth they were two giants of American history who played a major role in bringing down the Nixon presidency: Sam Dash and Archibald Cox. Mr. Dash was the chief counsel for the Senate Watergate Committee in 1973 and the man who discovered that Nixon had secretly taped his Oval Office conversations. Archibald Cox was the first Watergate special prosecutor and when he insisted on getting access to the tapes, he was fired in the famous October 1973 “Saturday Night Massacre.”

Both Mr. Dash and Mr. Cox died yesterday. Mr. Dash was 79, Mr. Cox was 92.

If there ever was a time when we needed strong men of principle who stood up for their beliefs in what was right and wrong and who did not back down in the face of terrible opposition, it was during the years of Watergate. Both of these men did just that, and the country owes them a debt of gratitude. They also set an example of non-partisanship in their endeavours (Mr. Dash served as the ethics advisor to Kenneth Starr in 1998, a thankless job if there ever was one). We can only hope that the examples they set will serve today as the country once again faces a crisis of confidence in the men we have as leaders.