While we await a possible announcement regarding indictments in the Plame Leak investigation (or not), it is perhaps fitting and appropriate that we remember H.R. "Bob" Haldeman, President Nixon's chief of staff and convicted Watergate conspirator, who was born on this day in 1926 in Los Angeles.
The son of one of the California businessmen who contributed to the private political expense fund which inspired Richard Nixon's famous "Checkers" mea culpa in 1952, Haldeman was an ad executive who helped to engineer Nixon's winning image during the 1968 presidential campaign. After the election, Nixon appointed Haldeman as his White House chief of staff.
The lynchpin of Bob Haldeman's administrative approach was the cultivation of an image for himself, one of ruthlessness to front-line adversaries and constituents outside the White House as well as among the hired help. Sporting a military-style crew-cut long after it had fallen out of fashion, Haldeman was an arrogant, cold-blooded field marshal who enforced his sense of order upon White House calendars and to-do lists in the service of Nixon's objectives, and he reveled in press descriptions of Nixon's "efficient Prussians" (Haldeman and John Ehrlichman, Nixon's domestic adviser) building a "Berlin wall" around the Oval Office.
As the White House puppet-master he knew about the covert plans of the Watergate burglars and participated in the cover-up; the infamous "18-1/2-minute gap" in the White House tapes contained a conversation he had with Nixon which many believe would have shown that Nixon had known all along about the entire Watergate affair.
After the Watergate story broke and he was forced to resign in April 1973, Haldeman grew his hair to a neat and somewhat fashionable length in a last-ditch attempt to soften his public image; nevertheless he was convicted of conspiracy and obstruction of justice and served 18 months in prison.
Afterwards, Haldeman went into the real estate development business and published two memoirs, The Ends of Power (1978) and The Haldeman Diaries (1994) in which he took responsibility for the paranoiac atmosphere which prevailed in the White House. He died in 1993.
After Bob Haldeman, the position of White House chief of staff became a public one, reserved in large part for ex-officeholders -- ex-Senator Howard Baker, ex-Governor John Sununu, ex-Congressman Leon Panetta, ex-Secretary of Transportation Andrew Card, etc. In effect, it became a position demanding as much public trust as most elected positions -- while positions such as deputy chief of staff and chief of staff to the vice president have, until the recent scrutiny of the press, been faceless to the public at large.