Roger Stone is one very interesting character
I had a modest association with Roger Stone when we both served in the White House during the Nixon administration. I have followed his career for the next 50 years. My original opinion of him never changed. He has always been a bit of a nutcase.
Stone is the definition of dapper – although his impeccable style seems more in tune with the 1930s.
He is a combination of a conspiratorial theorist – at least the spreader of conspiratorial theories – and a dirty trickster. His greatest appeal seemed to be with the politically paranoid. His appeal to a guy like Nixon was his intense loyalty. He would do anything for the boss – even take a bullet.
The person most like Stone in the Nixon circle was J. Gordon Liddy – one of the guys who actually broke into the Watergate and unintentionally ended Nixon’s rather impressive and popular years in the Oval Office
Stone was like a pretend CIA agent — always in the know of deep dark secrets and empowered to do whatever was necessary to fix things. While he did not claim a license to kill, any illegal or unethical activity in pursuit of his mission was always open to consideration.
Even in his early career, he was labeled as a political dirty-trickster by many in Washington – even members of Nixon’s staff.
For Stone, there has always been an enemy to be defeated. He cast himself as the constant victim of political persecution.
Following the fall of Nixon, Stone became more obscure in high-level political circles. He went about his career and entered the b-level speaking circuit as are retrospective commentator on Nixon and the Watergate scandal. He shared his insider information – a mix of fact, embellishment, and invention. He wrote books – although not bestsellers.
Stone might have remained in semi-anonymity were it not for Donald Trump. Somewhere along the line, Trump took on Stone as an unofficial advisor. There was an immediate sympatico between the two establishmentarians. Both used dubious narratives to gain public attention and political support.
It was not a political marriage. Stone would cycle in and out of Trump’s circle of advisors and confidants – as was Trump’s habit. In fact, Stone was more or less out of favor until the 2020 election. Trump needed people to spread the word that the election was hijacked – just the sort of mission that would appeal to Stone.
Based on his history, the efficacy of Trump’s claim would not be a consideration in Stone’s taking up the cause. Nor would Stone’s advocacy be limited by traditional norms or strict adherence to the law. It was the narrative that counted.
Stone was once convicted of lying to fibbing to Congress about his involvement with Wikileaks founder Julian Assange. Stone never served time because Trump commuted his 40-month prison sentence. It was not a pardon – as many in the media report – but merely removing the sentence.
However, Stone may be in trouble again. This time for his role in organizing elements of the January 6th protest. Were his actions merely to stall the certification in order to get a recount? Or was he inciting violence to actually overthrow the election of Biden?
Recently leaked recordings appear to have Stone calling for violence. He says the recordings are doctored and out-of-context. That cannot be settled in the court-of-public-opinion – as Stone’s enemies would like. It seems likely, however, that Stone may have to prove his case in a court-of-law … again.
Stone is entitled to his presumption of innocence. We will probably find out if that presumption holds up in court. Will his case carry over to Trump? Probably not. Most folks who know Stone the best say he will never flip. He did not with Nixon – and will probably not with Trump.
The opinions of Stone vary widely, but there can be universal agreement … he is one very interesting character. Right out of a political movie thriller.
So, there ‘tis.