The Day Zennie Abraham Beat Watergate’s G. Gordon Liddy In A Debate

Yes. G. Gordon Liddy, the Watergate Mastermind (or criminal, depending on how you chose to look at his life), lost a debate to a college sophomore named Zennie Abraham in 1981, at the University of Texas at Arlington (UTA). But, how did I come to blog about that today?

I happened to be watching a Netflix documentary on Donald Trump friend Roger Stone earlier this evening, and thinking about how his career as a political fixer spanned a time before the Internet, back to the 1960s. I was also rather disappointed that Stone decided to build his political thought around a brand of what was then the kind of extreme conservative wacko ideas William F. Buckley wanted to stay away from.

Willam F. Buckley
Willam F. Buckley

At that point, I reflected on the time I met, of all people, G. Gordon Liddy. Mr. Liddy, from what I recall, was a truly smart man. He relished testing your ideas, and loved to be tested in return. I know this, because I was placed in a position to do that, thanks to the folks at UTA.

Back then, in 1981, I was a still-new-to-Texas college student at UTA, and trying to find my place in a World that I perceived as 20-years behind Skyline High School, and my home Oakland, California, socially.

I came to UTA from Oakland, and for a complex set of reasons that included my desire to major in city planning as an undergraduate, my love for the Dallas Cowboys as coached by Tom Landry, and the basic wanderlust that most teens have which compels them to leave the nest.

I discovered the UTA Forums Council because I wanted to be in a group that brought speakers to campus reflecting the zeitgeist: the sprit of the times. So, I joined the talk dinner club, and quickly became what one of our UTA staff managers called “The Designated Conversationalist.” My purpose was to sit next to the invited speaker during dinner and chat up that person. What happened was that other students were so in awe of whoever our guest, was, they were afraid to talk.

That problem was particularly noticeable when Star Trek’s Leonard Nimoy came to UTA. So, to break the errie silence that was caused because at that time Mr. Nimoy didn’t want to talk about Mr. Spock (and had a book out called “I Am Not Spock”), I asked “Mr. Nimoy, how did your role in Equus get started?”, and referring to the play he starred in starting in 1977. Nimoy just opened up. It was like a light was turn on. And it was at that point I became the Forums Council’s Designated Conversationalist.

Then, came Liddy.

Mr. Liddy came to UTA to promote his book, Will: The Autobiography of G. Gordon Liddy, but what I found both annoying and interesting was his tendency to lean on the idea that the free market was better, and that no regulation was desirable. Since the Forums Council people and my student friends like Paul Baumgardner, sat me next to Liddy, I figured I’d debate him about that. But not to be nasty at all – just for the fun of exchanging ideas.

Liddy learned that my major was city planning, and so quickly turned our young discussion into his personal praise-fest for how Houston was the perfect example of the free market. To which I asked him, “doesn’t a free market call for no government.” Liddy answered in the affirmative, and in so doing, fell right into my trap: “Houston does have a government, and while they don’t have standard zoning, they do have land use laws.” My point was the simple fact that Houston had a government and regulations meant that there was no real free market.
End game.

From that point, we became friends, and talked mostly about his life and what he learned. One thing I will take from talking with G. Gordon Liddy is this: he wasn’t afraid to be himself. He didn’t think much about what people thought about him. He knew (and I suppose still knows) he’s OK. But for me, as a 18-year-old student, being able to talk with G. Gordon Liddy one-on-one, and come way feeling as if I grew a little more, was an incredible experience.

Yes, G. Gordon Liddy did things I would not even dream of emulating. Liddy even came close to ending the life of Investigative journalist Jack Anderson under the direction of President Nixon. He talked about that with me and the other Forums Council students, as a cautionary tale about getting too caught up in doing anything the President asks you to do. Indeed, because rather than get Anderson, Liddy wound up breaking into Democratic Party Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.

G. Gordon Liddy Was A Real Conservative

The bad secret agent scummy stuff aside, G. Gordon Liddy was a true conservative. Not one who’s ideas were based on race, like so many, what I call, “couch potato conservatives” of today. That’s why I could have great talks with him, and he could come away appreciating who I was as a young African American man, but not thinking about my skin color at all. We never talked about race, even once – we talked about what a market economy was and what the free market was. We talked about ideas.

Today’s couch potato conservatives really just want some stupid license to tell people who don’t look like them or talk as they do, how much they don’t like them. They want to whine and cry about those who are “politically correct.” People who do that aren’t conservative at all, they’re rude and unhappy – generally, with themselves. That wasn’t G. Gordon Liddy, and as much I was jazzed I beat “G. Gordon Liddy” in a debate, I was more-jazzed at the kind of person he was.

G. Gordon Liddy Is A True Conservative; Tucker Carlson Isn’t

A true conservative understands economics and markets and policy formation, and doesn’t seek to bother people because they’re minority or female. Indeed, affirmative action was an idea embraced by William F. Buckley when he ran for Mayor of New York in 1965. He worked with community organizers, and even forecasted the time when America would elect a black president. How can a conservative do all of that? Because, for Buckley, he realized that being an economic conservative was just that; the other policies he supported were borne of an emphathy lacking in the so-called conservatives of today.

Buckley and Liddy got it right. It’s too bad their truly conservative thought is beyond the mental reach of the bigotted Tucker Carlsons of today. And anyone who claims to be White Nationalist isn’t conservative at all – nothing to do with it. Xenophobic? Yes. Conservative? No.

Stay tuned.

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