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Opinion: What did the president know and when did he know it?
Watergate
The Senate Watergate Committee hearings Aug. 3, 1973,on Capitol Hill in Washington. From left are Sen. Lowell P. Weicker Jr, Sen. Edward J. Gurney, Fred Thompson, Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr., Rufus Edmisten, Sen. Sam Ervin, Sam Dash and Sen. Joseph M. Montoya. Sen. Daniel K. Inouye was absent. Testifying is Lt. Gen. Vernon Walters. - photo by Associated Press

Well, without getting into the foray of this impeachment thing — for I'm sure folks have their own ideas of reckoning, and I "reckon" we all do and some folks will "reckon" their ideas are right and yours are wrong — but what I did notice and have now come to know is that in these proceedings, names like Hamilton and Madison kept popping up. 

We all know something about them from our history class of long ago. They probably wrote great things and wore wigs. 

However, another name kept popping up in these wranglings, a name that came along in my lifetime and maybe some folks out there as well. And I soon learned that none of the congressional staffers that answered the phone knew who he was. 

Of course, if they were to ask me about anything concerning the latest fads, I, of course, would have to resort to my "Google machine." But since they represented us, maybe some could pass the pop quiz concerning a more recent history of impeachment. I even hinted that his sidekick was Fred Thompson of “Law and Order” TV fame. Maybe some would have seen the show or perhaps reruns. The TV show was on for 20 years and did not go off the air until 2010. 

Alas, that clue did not help either. So in the end, I had to write the correct answer on the proverbial chalkboard as none passed the pop quiz.

Howard Henry Baker was the name that I was looking for — better known as Howard H. Baker, the great Republican senator, majority leader and chief of staff for President Ronald Reagan. And his partner on the Watergate Committee was of course Fred Thompson, who later became a Republican senator from Tennessee. And it was his name that kept popping up in these latest hearings. And it was his famous quote that came alive again, "what did the president know and when did he know it?" 

Fortunately most of us can use our "Google machine" today and see Sen. Baker ask this famous question, and hopefully as a nation we all relearn this question — for if we don't, another pop quiz will surely follow us down the road.

Bill Luttrell

Gainesville

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