Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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November 7, 2005
By: Kevin Drum

CRIMINALIZING POLITICS....A FOLLOWUP....A few days ago I wrote a post wondering who had first coined the term "criminalizing politics," and I'm sure that since then you've all been waiting on the edge of your collective seats for the answer. So here it is. It turns out that the winner is Lt. Col. Oliver North, who said the following in his opening statement to Congress during the Iran-Contra affair:

It is also difficult to comprehend that my work at the NSC all of which was approved and carried out in the best interests of our country has led to two massive parallel investigations staffed by more than 200 people.

It is mind-boggling to me that one of those investigations is criminal and that you have attempted to criminalize policy differences between co-equal branches of government and the executive's conduct of foreign affairs.

The date of origin of this phrase is still slightly fuzzy, however. North's first day of testimony was July 8, 1987, and that's when he submitted his opening statement, but the committee refused to let him read his statement until July 10. So take your pick.

As I mentioned in the previous post, it was Gordon Crovitz of the Wall Street Journal who morphed Ollie's creation into the "criminalization of politics" in a 1989 paper although, oddly enough, the very first reference to it actually seems to have come from Gordon Jones of the Heritage Foundation, who used the phrase while introducing Crovitz during a seminar in 1988.

So that's that. Thanks to Peter Brimelow and James Fulford of VDARE for helping to clear this up.

Kevin Drum 11:34 PM Permalink | Trackbacks

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