What does it say about the character of a man whose defining moment in life never really happened?
In the final month of the 2008 election cycle, embroiled in a tight race with then-Congressman Bill Sali, then-candidate Walt Minnick told the Idaho Statesman editorial board that the turning point in his life was his decision to resign from the Nixon Administration after events that came to be known as the Saturday Night Massacre. October 20, 1973 at the hight of the Watergate investigation, Attorney General Elliot Richardson and his deputy, William Ruckelshaus resigned rather than carry out an order from President Nixon to fire Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox who was demanding that Nixon comply with a subpoena to turn over the White House tapes. At the time, Minnick was the Special Assistant to the Deputy Director of the Office of Management and Budget and Chief of OMB's Federal Drug Management Division.
Walt says "he walked in and quit" that Monday and, when relating these events, has repeated the story that he resigned in protest immediately after the Saturday Night Massacre. Trouble is, there aren't any facts to back that up.
A Freedom of Information Act request produced no resignation letter from the Nixon Library, the White House Digest from the period records no resignation from Walter Minnick and he testified to Congress that he remained employed in the Nixon Administration through January of 1974.
Minnick's hometown paper, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin, carried no such story reporting his resignation in the days following the Saturday Night Massacre. To understand the significance of that, one has to understand that this is a hometown paper that had a special relationship with the Minnicks. From a story about a seven-year-old Walter growing pumpkins, to his time in school-boy patrol, to his graduation from Harvard, if Skeeter Minnick sneezed it ended up in the Union-Bulletin.
This is the paper that ran the front-page headline "Minnick Mentioned in Watergate Coverage," June 26, 1973 the day after White House Counsel John Dean mentioned Minnick's name in his televised testimony. It was big news in Walla Walla -- the whole town was abuzz -- and the paper reported that Minnick's parents weren't speaking to the press about it.
If Walter Minnick had resigned following the Saturday Night Massacre -- especially "in protest" -- that would have also been big news in Walla Walla. The Union-Bulletin carried the front-page story of the events but no mention of Minnick's name. A month later they printed a story, referring to Minnick as a government official -- no mention of any resignation.
This is supposedly THE defining moment of Congressman Walt Minnick's life, and it never happened -- at least not the way he says it did. That says more about the character of this man than any vote he's taken, any attack he's made on an opponent, than any pandering for votes he's done.
It has become a defining moment, alright. As a Democrat, it couldn't be more disappointing.