While some will likely lament the passing of Chuck Colson, who died today at age 80, his legacy does not exactly inspire mourning. While he devoted much of his later life to Christianity, Colson went to prison for his involvement in Watergate. To ensure Richard Nixon's reelection, Colson once said he would "walk over my own grandmother."
While Colson may have been a "darkly brilliant political strategist," as the Washington Post's Michael Dobbs contends, it was his reputation for "dirty tricks" that left the more lasting impression.
A self-described "hatchet man" for Nixon, Mr. Colson compiled the notorious "enemies list" of politicians, journalists and activists perceived as threats to the White House. And most fatefully, he helped orchestrate illegal activities to discredit former Pentagon official Daniel Ellsberg, who was suspected of leaking a top-secret history of the Vietnam War to the New York Times and The Washington Post.
Before he went to prison, Colson became a born-again Christian. Much of his later life was devoted to his nonprofit organization, Prison Fellowship, which sought to "seek the transformation of prisoners ... through the power and truth of Jesus Christ."
A noble cause, perhaps, but let's not forget that Colson's focus on religion didn't stop him from being a dick. If anything, it strengthened some of his conservative convictions.
Colson never left the political scene, consistently advocating on behalf of conservative policies. He opposed abortion and same-sex marriage and supported the Iraq war. In 2008, President George W. Bush gave Colson the Presidential Citizens Medal.
Ah, warmongering and the denial of basic human rights — just what Jesus would have wanted.
[Image via AP]