During his eight years of presidential press conferences, Ronald Reagan often took questions from Executive Intelligence Review correspondents. On August 3, 1988, the question and answer created a furor. EIR’s Nick Benton asked the President if he thought Michael Dukakis should make his medical records public. Benton was alluding to rumors spread by his own NCLC colleagues that the Democratic presidential nominee had sought psychiatric help for depression in the late 1970s. Reagan, grinning, answered: "Look, I'm not going to pick on an invalid." The remark elicited groans of dismay from the assembled reporters, and Reagan half apologized several hours later. Yet the President had managed to transform an unsubstantiated smear into a major international news story. The New York Times’s Anthony Lewis wrote that "anyone who thinks that crack was accidental must believe in the Tooth Fairy." Senator Daniel P. Moynihan used even blunter language, charging that the "Big Lie" of Lyndon LaRouche had "reached the Oval Office."
The LaRouchians had started their Dukakis rumors at the convention, with leaflets that asked, "Is Dukakis the new Senator Eagleton?" Afterwards they called daily newspapers around the country, telling each that its competitors were already hot on the story. Fearful of being scooped, editors and reporters reacted predictably. Dukakis headquarters received a barrage of inquiries. Although campaign spokesmen denied everything and the LaRouchians offered no solid evidence, the rumors became newsworthy simply as rumors. The weekend before Reagan's "invalid" quip, several important news outlets had already reported the story. The Reverend Moon's Washington Times gave it front-page coverage with the sly headline: "Dukakis Psychiatric Rumor Denied." On August 3, a Wall Street Journal editorial noted "rumors about [Dukakis's] depression," which supposedly highlighted "how little the American people know about this man."
Dukakis called a press conference to deny the rumor, and within a few days it was overshadowed by the story of Dan Quayle and the National Guard. Syndicated columnists Rowland Evans and Robert Novak noted that the caper apparently had backfired by linking Bush to LaRouche more than Dukakis to the psychiatrist's couch. They charged that, weeks before the story broke into print, the "political apparatus of Bush campaign manager Lee Atwater was investigating the details and trying to spread the findings without leaving any vice-presidential fingerprints." The column suggested that Atwater's lieutenants had "asked outside GOP operatives" to do the dirty work.
There was a potential bombshell here, but most of the media showed the usual reluctance to cover anything relating to LaRouche. This emboldened his followers to escalate their smear campaign with a sixteen-page pamphlet on Dukakis's alleged mental problems, partiality for the "drug-sex counterculture," and support for "privileges for homosexuals." The initial press run was 100,000 copies, available for fifty cents each in bulk orders of 100 or more.
The press treated the original smear as an isolated incident, but the LaRouche organization had conducted scores of dirty-tricks operations against the Democrats (and occasionally against moderate Republicans on behalf of the Reaganites) over the previous twelve years. Almost totally ignored by the press except in the earliest and least harmful stage, this campaign is probably the largest and certainly the longest-running operation of its type in American electoral history.
The NCLC's wooing of the Republicans began in 1976, when LaRouche was running for President on the U.S. Labor Party ticket. Shortly after Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination, LaRouche shifted from seeking votes for himself to diverting votes into President Ford’s column. NCLC defectors recall meetings that summer and fall to plan pro-Ford and anti-Carter activities. New Solidarity told the NCLC membership that the nation would face a "near-certain nuclear incineration" if they didn't launch an all-out "stop Carter" effort. On election eve LaRouche appeared on NBC-TV to warn the nation about Carter's alleged mental imbalance—the same charge as against Dukakis, although less artfully presented. The NCLC collected $96,000 on an emergency basis to pay for LaRouche's half-hour speech. New Solidarity said the money was raised "with the aid of a group of conservative Republican businessmen"—a statement which NCLC defectors say is true. Federal Election Commission records show large donations to LaRouche's campaign committee the day before the election. The reputed donors were NCLC members covering for the real donors. One conservative donor, who was a member of the board of directors of Ocean Spray, put up $15,000.
After the election, the Republicans joined with the LaRouche organization in Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York, and Wisconsin to challenge the election returns in court on grounds of vote fraud. The objective was to deprive Carter of his edge in Electoral College votes. Republican National Committee executive director Ed Mahe was in contact with the LaRouchians on this and encouraged support for their effort. He became involved at the urging of Representative Guy Vander Jagt (R.-Mich.), chairman of the Republican Congressional Committee and a close friend of President Ford. A spokesman for Vander Jagt told The Washington Post that "our Republican interest is similar to theirs on the one issue of voter fraud." In Oklahoma, a prominent publisher hosted a luncheon for a select group of Republicans to hear a pitch for money from LaRouche, while the state finance chairman of the Ford campaign also helped raise funds. A Denver stockbroker serving as director of LaRouche's so-called Citizens Committee for a Fair Election revealed that supporters of Ronald Reagan were also raising money for the suit.
Conservative journalist Morton Blackwell in The Right Report described LaRouche's wooing of top Republicans that year as "a surprising success." LaRouche followers had contacted "literally hundreds of conservatives and Republicans." Their approach had been "unfailingly courteous." One LaRouche spokesman tried to ingratiate himself with Blackwell by saying, "You're committed to the ideals which created this country, as we are."
Many Republicans dropped the LaRouchians after major dailies reported on the curious alliance. But in some cases, the process simply went underground. NCLC defectors say that ongoing ties were established with several well-connected Republicans. One was Hal Short, a former Republican National Committee executive who operated as a political consultant in Washington. Another was Thomas Miner, president of Chicago's Mid-America Committee for International Business and Government Cooperation, who attempted to arrange meetings between LaRouche and several of his wealthy friends. In California, at least one wealthy Reagan backer became temporarily enchanted with the LaRouchians.
LaRouche soon recognized that Reagan was the man of the future. In May 1978 he issued an appeal to Reagan to take the leadership of the party away from flunkies of the "Judas-goat Kissinger" and to unite the party around an international strategy of export of "high technology capital goods." In a February 1979 New Solidarity editorial, LaRouche said that Reagan "is without doubt the best" among the potential Republican presidential candidates, exhibiting a "moral quality lacking in all the rest." George Bush was "totally unacceptable" in the opinion of LaRouche, who said he was fulfilling a "duty" to the Republican Party by pointing this out.
By the summer of 1979, LaRouche sensed the impending conservative ground swell. "The giant nonliberal sections of the Democratic Party and the GOP are ready to bolt from the control of their national leaderships," he wrote. "Any presidential candidate who links up with this coalition will be 'piggy-backed' into the White House." But he expressed concern that Reagan might not move boldly enough to take advantage of the electorate's mood. New Solidarity urged Reagan to keep on a conservative course rather than plunging into the "mainstream." The latter strategy, it said, would be "fatal" to his campaign.
Meanwhile LaRouche announced his own candidacy for the Democratic nomination--to raise high the banner of American "nationalism" within the party most vulnerable to infiltration. His pro-Republican friends in the Teamsters Union encouraged this decision, and a Michigan businessman close to the Teamsters would end up managing his New Hampshire primary campaign. Said Rolland McMaster, a top Michigan Teamster leader: "People like it he's a Democrat now." The Teamsters were the only major union in 1980 to support Reagan. Jackie Presser, the NCLC's most important Teamster ally, was appointed to Reagan's transition team and inauguration committee.
In the fall of 1979 LaRouche spent most of his time lambasting his liberal Democratic opponents—Carter, Kennedy, and Jerry Brown. But as primary day approached in New Hampshire, a curious shift in emphasis occurred. LaRouche focused his fire on Reagan's major rival, George Bush. A deluge of anti-Bush propaganda emanated from LaRouche headquarters, focusing on the type of conspiracy theories that William Loeb's Manchester Union Leader had long popularized throughout the state. LaRouche charged that Bush was a tool of the Council on Foreign Relations and the Trilateral Commission—a typical Anglophile one-worlder. He also alluded to the "bones in Bush's closet," his membership in Yale University's Skull and Bones society.
Similar charges about Bush came from publisher Loeb, the John Birch Society, and Reagan's campaign aides. Reagan himself expressed concern over the Trilateral Commission's "undue influence" in government and politics, although not mentioning Bush's name. But LaRouche spread the message most vigorously. He had hundreds of volunteers, millions of dollars, and his own printing and typesetting companies. Most important, he had nothing to lose. No intemperate or exaggerated statements could hurt him since he already was branded as an extremist.
It worked. During the final weeks of the primary campaign, Bush repeatedly was asked about the Trilateral Commission, and booed when he attempted to brush off the questions. The Wall Street Journal devoted a front-page article to his Trilateral problem, noting that it had become "a genuine, if unlikely issue."
LaRouche himself received only 2 percent of the vote on primary day, but New Solidarity suggested that he had helped Reagan to make "Bush's 'blueblood' connection to the Trilateral Commission . . . the key issue in the race." Supposedly the Reagan campaign and Loeb had borrowed their material from Citizens for LaRouche, and LaRouche's own attacks on the "silk-stocking crowd" had "set the tone" for the primary. This tactic had put Bush "on the defensive."
LaRouche was not so obvious as to eulogize Reagan while harassing Bush. In early January he wrote an article describing Reagan as "a man whose career was originally sponsored by Borax, and who is still selling the stuff." But he was confident Reagan would win in November, and fully intended to be on the winning side. He urged the Reagan campaign to continue on an aggressively conservative course. This could "make political mincemeat of the Carter administration," he said. For his own part, no sooner was the New Hampshire primary over than he shifted his main attack to Carter and spent the rest of the season pointing out that the President, like Bush, was a Trilateral Commission alumnus. The New Hampshire effect was not duplicated, but LaRouche did exasperate Commission member David Rockefeller. In a letter to The New York Times, Rockefeller complained about the outlandish conspiracy theories, citing specific charges made only by the LaRouchians. The Times accompanied his letter with an editorial deploring certain unnamed anti-Trilateralists.
That summer the LaRouchians met a veteran political operative who would become a mentor of sorts. Paul Corbin, a longtime Kennedy family retainer who had served Robert Kennedy as a specialist in sensitive operations, was working for Teddy Kennedy at the Democratic convention. LaRouche had long despised Teddy, entitling one of his political tracts "Beneath the Waters of Chappaquiddick." But at the convention LaRouche hoped to put together a coalition of Kennedy supporters, farm activists, labor leaders, and his own organization to stop Carter. Corbin was invited to LaRouche's convention command post at Regency House to discuss a deal involving delegates. He was amused to find that LaRouche had no delegates. However, he would continue his contacts with LaRouche's followers. After Carter was renominated, Corbin seethed with resentment on behalf of Teddy. He offered his services to Reagan campaign manager William Casey, and was hired as an operative to report directly to Casey, James Baker, and Edwin Meese. (Corbin says he told Casey: "I'm not here for pay but I want to stop Carter. If Carter wins, the next nominee will be Mondale.") After linking up with the Reaganites, Corbin developed a relationship with the LaRouchians that lasted for years, although he never agreed with their politics. He attended many of their political events, had dinner with Lyndon and Helga, became fast friends with LaRouche's top Washington operative, Richard Cohen, and provided them wilh advice on how to gain influence within the Democratic Party. He also chatted frequently on the phone with Jeffrey Steinberg, the chief of LaRouche's security staff.
In 1983 the press uncovered that William Casey had surreptitiously obtained copies of President Carter's television debate briefing book prior to the October 1980 debate. The incident was dubbed "Briefingate." The Justice Department launched an investigation and a congressional committee made inquiries. Casey, who had become CIA director, revealed that he had received certain Carter campaign materials, although not the briefing book, from Paul Corbin.
The LaRouchians were anxious to stop the Briefingate probe, and issued a pamphlet calling it a Communist-liberal plot to undermine Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative. The morning the story about Corbin broke in the media, there was a lengthy phone conversation between Corbin and Jeff Steinberg, according to former security staffer Charles Tate, who took the incoming call. Asked about this in 1988, Corbin didn't recall the conversation but noted that Steinberg frequently solicited his opinion on fast-breaking political events. Corbin denied having anything to do with snatching Carter's briefing book and said he doubted the LaRouchians could have gotten close enough to Carter's inner circle to obtain it. But he speculated that Republican tricksters might be dealing with the LaRouchians against Dukakis. As to his own dealings with the LaRouchians, he said he had just been keeping an eye on them as a favor to another former Kennedy aide.
Shortly after the 1980 Democratic convention, LaRouche launched the National Democratic Policy Committee for long-range organizing and disruption among Democrats. Kenneth Dalto, a Detroit LaRouche follower and businessman with close ties to the Teamsters, was appointed executive director. NDPC literature announced that the goal was to organize a LaRouche-led "conservative" movement within the party, with the aid of the Teamsters and right-wing construction union leaders. This faction would seek national "bipartisanship"—that is, Democratic capitulation to the Reagan agenda. That autumn the NDPC functioned unofficially as a kind of Democrats for Reagan movement attacking Carter nonstop. Two days before the general election the NDPC placed an anti-Carter ad in the Detroit Free Press.
After Reagan's election LaRouche tried to call in his chips. He went to Washington with aide Warren Hamerman, who later wrote in EIR that they met with "numerous officials of the Reagan transition team, a score of congressmen and senators, and various people with policy influence." (It was shortly after this that LaRouche began planning to move his headquarters to the Washington area.) In early 1981 the LaRouchians held policy seminars on Capitol Hill and provided EIR gift subscriptions to cabinet members and leading congressional figures. The most important administration contacts were handled by operatives such as Uwe Parpart and Richard Cohen, who knew how to push the right buttons and mouth the right slogans. They became known as strong supporters of administration policy on defense, the environment, and drugs. They kept their mouths shut about the LaRouche organization's peculiar views on the "Zionist-British organism."
The early stage of the "Reagan Revolution" was an ideal time for the LaRouchians to make inroads. Everything was in flux, and their extremism did not stand out. They seemed just another part of the mosaic of unorthodox ideas along with Ayn Rand's capitalist anarchism, Edward Teller's sci-fi weapons fantasies, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency's plans for emergency rule drafted by cronies of Edwin Meese. The LaRouchians crowed when Reagan stated in his 1981 West Point commencement address: "At Trophy Point, I'm told there are links of a great chain that was forged and stretched across the Hudson to prevent the British fleet from penetrating further into the valley. Today, you are that chain, holding back an evil force that would extinguish the light we've been tending for six thousand years. . ." In the heady atmosphere of the Reagan Revolution's springtime, the LaRouchians could actually convince themselves this was a coded reference to the six-thousand-year struggle between "humanists" and British "oligarchs."
EIR obtained interviews in 1981 with many high-level appointees, including Agriculture Secretary John Block, Defense Under Secretary Richard DeLauer, Commerce Under Secretary Lionel Olmer, Treasury Under Secretary Norman Ture, Assistant Attorney General Lowell Jensen, and the chairman of the President's Council of Economic Advisers, Dr. Murray Weidenbaum. In addition, Senator Orrin Hatch (R.-Utah), a friend of the President, and Senator John Tower (R.-Tex.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, granted interviews. LaRouche told The Village Voice in 1987 that all this was his reward for helping sandbag Bush, but in some cases there is a more pedestrian explanation. LaRouche spokesmen took the trouble to testify in favor of a number of Reagan appointees at Senate confirmation hearings, and then called up for interviews. LaRouche himself cadged an invitation to have breakfast with Interior Secretary James Watt along with several other supporters of Watt's confirmation. LaRouche hoped for a consultant's post, but Watt recalls feeling "instinctively" that "something was off." (Within months, New Solidarity and Executive Intelligence Review began to attack Watt as a closet environmentalist.)
The most important LaRouchian inroads were at the National Security Council, where several LaRouche followers became frequent visitors, functioning almost as unofficial consultants. They met numerous times with Richard Morris, right-hand man to National Security Adviser William Clark. Other NSC officials who listened to them included Ray Pollock and Norman Bailey. (EIR has mentioned meetings with additional NSC officials, including one visit where Criton Zoakos transmitted LaRouche's views to a specialist in Soviet affairs.) Morris met several times with LaRouche himself, as did Pollock twice and Bailey at least three times. After leaving the administration in early 1984, Bailey became an economics adviser to the Reagan-Bush reelection campaign, and traveled out to Leesburg for dinner and a political discussion with Lyn and Helga.
LaRouchian efforts in Washington were paralleled by a nationwide effort to serve the Republicans on the local level. Here the LaRouchians became specialists at smearing Democrats. This began well before Reagan's victory, but the first experiments were not very successful. When Jane Byrne won the Chicago Democratic mayoral primary in 1979, the LaRouchians published a scurrilous pamphlet about her, The Plot to Steal Chicago. Hundreds of thousands of free copies were distributed. Her Republican opponent repeated some of the charges, and when asked by reporters for proof, cited the LaRouchian pamphlet. Later he felt obliged to issue a sheepish retraction.
The following year the LaRouchians backed conservative Republican candidate Alfonse D'Amato for the U.S. Senate in New York against Congresswoman Elizabeth Holtzman. D'Amato held a joint press conference with LaRouche's National Anti-Drug Coalition, a group devoted to blaming the drug traffic on the Jews. The LaRouchians had attacked Holtzman for her role in founding the Justice Department's Nazi-hunting unit, the Office of Special Investigations. The OSI, the LaRouchians charged, was a Zionist-British plot against America, and Holtzman was a traitor. They continued these attacks during the campaign, also calling Holtzman soft on drugs. D'Amato failed to publicly disassociate himself from the LaRouchian rhetoric at the time, although he held no more press conferences with them. Incredibly, Holtzman's campaign staff let slip the opportunity to score a major point with Jewish voters, and D'Amato squeaked through to a narrow victory in November riding the coattails of the Reagan landslide.
With the launching of the NDPC, LaRouche had the perfect cover for pro-Republican smear campaigns: One of his followers would enter the Democratic primary against the targeted candidate, disseminating the smears from within. This would soften up the target for the Republican nominee's post-primary onslaught.
In 1982 the LaRouchians used red-baiting and sexual smears against former California governor Jerry Brown, who was running for the U.S. Senate. The material was issued by NDPC candidate William Wertz's campaign committee. It emphasized Brown's ties to Tom Hayden and Jane Fonda, presenting a wildly exaggerated account of the couple's leftist activities in hopes it would rub off on Brown. Fonda engaged in animalistic sexual behavior, one pamphlet said. Her movies promoted incest. Her mother had committed suicide. Her Malibu home had been the scene of "wild goings-on" prior to Sharon Tate's murder. She, her husband, and Brown were all part of the "Cult of Aquarius" plotting to deprive America of clean safe nuclear energy. The pamphlet advertised campaign bumper stickers: "Clean Up the Fruitflies—Spray Jerry Brown," "Don't Let Jerry Brown Pull Down Your Pants" and "What Spreads Faster than Radiation? Jane Fonda."
The Baltimore LaRouche organization smeared liberal Democratic congresswoman Barbara Mikulski in the 1982 and 1984 primaries, as noted earlier, but the softening-up tactic was best seen in 1986, when Mikulski became the Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate. She was opposed by Republican Linda Chavez, a Social Democrat turned neo-conservative who had served as the chief of President Reagan's public liaison office. The Republicans regarded the race as a crucial one in their battle to keep control of the Senate, and the LaRouchians obliged by lesbian-baiting Mikulski in the primary. NDPC candidate, Debra Freeman, urged Maryland Democrats to "vote straight Democrat." She continued this rhetoric beyond the primary season, calling Mikulski a "dike in the way of progress" and the "ugliest woman in Congress." New Solidarity quipped that there should be a prize for anyone "who can correctly identify Mikulski's sex." Chavez adopted a watered-down version of this, calling her opponent a "San Francisco-style Democrat" and warning that she could not "hide in the closet." Supporters also dredged up stories about an alleged affair between Mikulski and a staff aide. But many voters apparently were disgusted by the Freeman-Chavez act: Mikulski won a strong victory in November.
The LaRouchians intervened more successfully in a senatorial race two years earlier in North Carolina. It was a contest of national importance, with former Democratic governor James Hunt attempting to unseat Republican senator Jesse Helms, one of the most powerful figures on Capitol Hill. Former NCLC security staffer Charles Tate says he was told in early 1984 that work would be done on Helms's behalf. This was no surprise to Tate: he knew the security staff had been in touch with a top Helms aide for several years. (During the Falklands war in 1982, Helms had been the only senator to adopt the idea, also held by LaRouche, that the United States should invoke the Monroe Doctrine against "British imperialism" and in defense of Argentina's junta. The NDPC had issued a pro-Argentina propaganda pamphlet, including statements by LaRouche and Helms.)
Security staffers discussed sending an infiltrator into the Hunt campaign, but decided they could do the job best through undercover phone calls. Tate was present in the New York security office while a black NCLC member made calls to gay activists backing Hunt. The caller claimed to be from the Chicago Metro, a black weekly. Given Helms's notorious racism, the persons being interviewed all assumed the caller was anti-Helms.
Meanwhile articles linking Hunt to the gay community began to appear in The Landmark, a now-defunct conservative weekly published by Chapel Hill realtor Robert Windsor. The Landmark published excerpts from what apparently were taped conversations with various Hunt supporters in Chapel Hill, New York City, and elsewhere. The persons interviewed included gay activists as well as liberal socialites and civil rights leaders. The idea was to show that Hunt was getting substantial local and national support from constituencies disliked by many conservative Democrats. There were also articles suggesting Hum was himself gay. "Jim Hunt Is Sissy, Prissy, Girlish and Effeminate," read one headline, followed by "Is Jim Hunt homosexual?...Is he AC and DC? Has he kept a deep dark secret in his political closet all of his adult life?” Hundreds of thousands of free copies of The Landmark were circulated throughout the state, especially in rural areas. Like any wily campaigner, Helms publicly disassociated himself from the false charges about Hunt's sex life (and there is no evidence that Helms personally knew of the LaRouchians' involvement), but The Landmark's press run increased sharply right before Election Day. In the wake of Helms's narrow victory, many North Carolinians believed the smear campaign had tipped the balance.
At least some of the tapes used by The Landmark came from LaRouche's security staff. In early March 1984, a LaRouchian phoned Virginia Apuzzo, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, pretending to be a news reporter. Charles Tate says he heard the call being made and "saw the tape recorder running." A transcript of Apuzzo’s remarks appeared in the March 29 issue of The Landmark, which also included excerpts from a phone conversation with Lightning Brown, a gay activist in Chapel Hill. Brown says he received two calls. The first was from Grant Duay, a supposed reporter for a gay weekly, the New York City News. Brown said that Duay "asked about my fund raising for Hunt. The details ended up in The Landmark right away—it was frightening." Duay was in fact a notorious LaRouche operative who had previously used the New York City News as his cover for interviewing and taping political opponents of LaRouche. (In 1986 Duay would be arrested in Manhattan as part of a homosexual child pornography ring.)
Brown's second call was from the black LaRouchian. "I told him I felt sorry for the publisher of The Landmark and that I had prayed for him," said Brown, who is a Quaker. "My remark later appeared in The Landmark. It was supposed to prove I was a devil worshipper."
Landmark publisher Windsor was in close contact with the LaRouchians throughout that spring. He accompanied Tom Allred, Hunt's LaRouchian opponent in the Democratic primary, on a trip to Raleigh. "We toured the legislature and I introduced him to Liston Ramsey, speaker of the house, and many other people,” Windsor wrote in a front-page article about Allred. In a 1987 phone interview Windsor said he had also attended an NDPC meeting held to recruit North Carolina conservatives to run on the LaRouche slate, Windsor claimed that a number of his conservative friends had contributed money to the NDPC, including one $50,000 contribution.
The LaRouchians’ biggest effort ever was against the Democrats' 1984 national ticket. What they were planning was suggested by their attitude toward the party's May 1983 telethon. They called it a "disgustathon" and a cover for the laundering of drug money. New Solidarity gloated that "complaint and insult calls reportedly outnumbered favorable responses 9 to1," and that party leaders believed but could not prove that someone "intentionally jammed their incoming lines." (The LaRouchians had scores of WATS line phones in their national and regional offices and had practiced jamming before.)
That fall they went after Democratic front-runner Walter Mondale with insulting leaflets and carefully staged disruptions of his campaign appearances and press conferences. As against Bush in 1980, they used the Trilateral Commission issue, publishing a list of Mondale advisers said to be Trilateral members and citing his own membership as proof that he was a tool of "Kissinger and Rockefeller." At the time of the Grenada invasion they charged that Mondale foreign policy adviser Robert Pastor and former Carter aide Dr. Peter Bourne had been in cahoots with the ultra-left military regime overthrown by the invasion. In fact, Pastor and Bourne had merely provided advice to Bourne's father, who ran a medical school on the island, on how to steer safely through a dangerous situation. The LaRouchians circulated a pamphlet asserting that Pastor and Bourne had formerly been associated with the Institute for Policy Studies. When Mondale was asked about the Grenada allegations at an Oklahoma press conference, he complained about the smear campaign. But he never took any steps against the LaRouchians, and never raised the issue of their apparent ties to the Reagan administration.
The heart of the 1984 LaRouche operation was the NDPC candidates’ movement, a spectacular eruption of approximately 2,000 candidates into Democratic primaries. This was not part of the normal electoral process within the party but a deliberate disruption orchestrated from without. Most of the candidates had no commitment to the party. Some were full-time LaRouche cadre, others were senior citizens only dimly conscious of what they were doing. At least a few were veteran ultra-conservatives well aware that the point was to help Reagan. The rhetoric of their campaigns was anti-Mondale, rarely including criticism of the Republicans. They staunchly supported Reagan's key policies such as Star Wars. In effect, they were an extension of the Republican presidential campaign into the ranks of the Democratic Party.
The media as well as the Mondale campaign utterly failed to spot what was happening. Instead, they focused on a sideshow—the heckling of Mondale by conservative student activists who apparently were organized by Reagan operatives. No one probed LaRouche's hundred-times-larger operation.
In March 1984 NBC-TV's First Camera aired an expose of LaRouche's ties to the Reagan administration and especially to the National Security Council, The report also described the NCLC's anti-Semitism and history of violence--and LaRouche's discussion of a scheme to kill President Carter. Afterward, Democratic National Chairman Charles Manatt appealed to President Reagan to "repudiate" the LaRouchians and "order officials of his administration to cease all contacts with these extremists." White House spokesman Larry Speakes's reply was that the administration talks to "various people who may have information that might prove helpful to us. . . .Any American citizen, we'd be glad to talk to.” In other words, there was to be no public repudiation of LaRouche. Later that spring, the Reagan campaign made much over the Democrats' failure to repudiate Jesse Jackson. Reagan spoke of an "insidious cancer" in the Democratic Party. "We have no place for haters in America,” he said. He and Bush hounded Mondale about Louis Farrakhan even though the Democratic candidate had repeatedly and unequivocally denounced the Nation of Islam leader. But in one sense Mondale merely got what he deserved. Although he could have shut up the Republicans by uttering the magic words "LaRouche" and "Nazi," he was curiously too timid to do it.
LaRouche filed a libel suit against NBC and the Anti-Defamation League regarding the First Camera report. At the trial in the fall of 1984, he called former NSC aide Richard Morris as a witness. Morris, who had moved to the Interior Department with Reagan crony Clark, was in effect the administration's voice at the trial. He studiously avoided any negative statements about LaRouche and praised him to the jury by affirming that he had provided "good intelligence" to the government. Roy Innis, the head of CORE and one of the Reagan administration's few black allies, appeared as a LaRouche character witness, telling the jury he didn't think his friend was at all racist or anti-Semitic. (Innis was a veteran at such denials. Back in 1973, after Uganda dictator Idi Amin called Hitler a great man, Innis had declined to criticize Amin, saying he had "no records to prove" that Hitler had ever been an enemy of black people.) Although Innis's support for LaRouche was in every respect the equivalent of Jesse Jackson's involvement with Farrakhan, Reagan praised Innis in a New York Times interview the following February for supporting the administration's social agenda. The jury members in the NBC trial, however, rejected Innis's protestations. They found the defendants innocent of libel and awarded NBC $3 million in damages on a counterclaim against LaRouche.
Although The Washington Post and The New Republic published in-depth probes that fall and winter of LaRouche's White House ties, he continued to enjoy immunity from any open administration criticism. His fundraisers began calling elderly Reagan supporters all over the country. Their pitch was: Give us your life's savings to help President Reagan and keep America strong. This was how LaRouche rewarded the Reagan administration for not speaking out against him.
In 1986, as we have seen, the victory of LaRouchian candidates for lieutenant governor and secretary of state in the Illinois Democratic primaries guaranteed the reelection of Republican governor Jim Thompson. This was LaRouche's greatest service yet for the GOP (although an unplanned one). When Reagan went to Chicago to campaign for Thompson, he was asked his opinion on the LaRouchians. His reply: "I’m not here to do battle with him [LaRouche]; but I don't believe I could find myself in agreement with him on just about everything."
In the following months the LaRouchians received amazing vote totals in state after state. The Democratic Party leadership tried to explain this away as a fluke or as a failure of local party officials to exercise proper "vigilance." But the Republicans knew better--they adopted LaRouche's enthusiastic support for SDI as a campaign theme of their own. Evans and Novak wrote in October 1986 that the "unlikely conversion" of SDI from an "outer space fantasy . . . to a highly positive political issue" had given Reagan a "potent last-minute weapon" in the congressional elections. They cited race after race in which Republican candidates were attacking Democratic incumbents for failing to back SDI. Reagan had served notice, they claimed, that "any Democrat who opposes strategic defense is fair game." This was precisely the approach the LaRouchians earlier had used in hundreds of Democratic primaries. LaRouche may not be the intellectual author of SDI, but he can lay claim to being the founder of SDI politics.
CLICK HERE FOR THE REFERENCE NOTES TO THIS CHAPTER.
CLICK HERE TO CONTINUE TO NEXT CHAPTER.