Once upon a time, I toyed around with people who asked how old I was.
"I don't mind you knowing my age," I'd tell them, "but you've got to work for it. When I was a boy, hot dogs were a dime, hamburgers were 15 cents and a North Carolina barbecue sandwich cost a big ol' quarter. A gallon of gas was also 25 cents, and movies cost a dime." Some people nailed it and others came close. A good time was had by all.
Now I've simplified it. Now I say, "I'm old enough to remember when the only ones who hated the FBI were Nazi spies, and then, a little later, Communist spies. That was then. Look at it now!"
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When then-FBI Director James Comey rose up to disappoint millions of Americans who wanted Hillary Clinton prosecuted, and patiently explained that although the White House-seeking secretary of state was indeed "extremely careless" with her stewardship over sensitive emails and other aspects of national security, she had no apparent intention of violating the law and therefore prosecution was "inappropriate," I didn't like what I heard. I thought the director sounded cloying and ever-so-slightly insulting to our intelligence. Part of my brain is a kind of on-the-spot film production studio that turns out highly sophisticated documentaries instantaneously. Right then and there I could "see" and "hear" the eternal Mr. FBI himself, J. Edgar Hoover, standing where Comey stood and in that same whiny "Please don't hate me!" undertone saying what Comey said. I laughed and applauded and "congratulated" my imaginary film crew on coming up with a winner of a documentary, the last frame of which showed a split-screen with Comey on the left and J. Edgar Hoover on the right with the under-caption reading "Let's Make America Great Again!"
If only I could re-spindle that imaginary documentary, I think you'd enjoy it. You'd be treated to clips from movies about "The Untouchables" and a weekly radio show with a muscular voice blasting over that muscular theme music (based on the classical "The Love for Three Oranges" by Prokofiev, who also gave us "Peter and The Wolf"), "This is 'The FBI in Peace and War'!" and there'd be nary a peeplet of prejudice against or in favor of any political candidate. We didn't have to be told and taught that "Our FBI is incorruptible. They never hire Democrats or Republicans, only Americans!" There was no need to point that out. It radiated and embedded itself into the awareness of everybody from the fifth grade on up.
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There was reverence for the FBI and its boss, J. Edgar Hoover, among the less-intellectual Americans, but in the circles up there where the elephants make love there was always a soft-core bigotry against the FBI and Hoover over its ways and means of defending America and Americans. Many upper-intellect Americans too-eagerly bought into the notion of the most feared man in America – particularly by homosexuals – himself having an in-house gay lover. What speculative rot! You say that just because the man Hoover called "my alter-ego," Associate Director Clyde Tolson, always came to work with Hoover, always had lunch with Hoover, even went on vacations with Hoover. My, how you jump to conclusions! Despite widespread (and widely accepted) rumors about Hoover's sexual proclivities, there is no definitive evidence of anything funny, although there is documented evidence that the man enjoyed a fling with actress Dorothy Lamour! Look how the toxicity against Hoover's memory has deteriorated now that Hoover's FBI is a distant dream we can't manage to grab by the tail and bring all the way back.
What kind of a guy was this J. Edgar Hoover, who personally inspected his agents' fingernails to assure they were manicured according to Bureau policy? Well, as you might assume, Hoover was a martinet, but what a thorough and successful one! All of Washington knew that, in addition to safeguarding American security, Hoover had the additional mission of safeguarding the power and authority of J. Edgar Hoover! All of Washington knew that Hoover had reliable dirt on everybody in town of any consequence whatever. And if you did anything to challenge or even annoy Hoover sufficiently, that dirt would be leaked – not drip-drip-leaked but firehose-leaked to a media that highly and steadfastly revered and praised Director Hoover.
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FBI agents still regale one another with details of Hoover's legendry and legacy. One of their favorites deals was Hoover's hatred of unnecessary memos and unnecessary words in necessary memos. Hoover insisted that whatever his agents had to tell him be confined to one page only, with ample margins all around.
One of his agents had his single-page memo quickly returned by Hoover with the cryptic hand-written message saying simply "Watch the borders!"
The result was a speedy reinforcement of all available personnel to increase surveillance along the Canadian and Mexican borders.
You probably beat history to the punchline here. J. Edgar Hoover cared not a trifle about Canada and Mexico. He was just demanding more white space on that agent's paper!