The old buzzword "deniability" popped into my head.
ME (out loud): "Deniability. Who do you associate with that word."
ME (having Googled, reading from Wikipedia): "Kennedy. 'Plausible deniability is a term coined by the CIA during the Kennedy administration to describe the withholding of information from senior officials in order to protect them from repercussions in the event that illegal or unpopular activities by the CIA became public knowledge.'"
I love Wikipedia. I love that there's a whole long article on the topic "plausible deniability." The name Nixon comes up — in a list of 6 "major flaws" in the "doctrine." The Nixon-related flaw is:
It rarely worked when invoked; the denials made were rarely plausible and were generally seen through by both the media and the populace. One aspect of the Watergate crisis is the repeated failure of the doctrine of plausible deniability, which the administration repeatedly attempted to use to stop the scandal affecting President Richard Nixon and his aides.Also at the article, under the heading "other examples":
The Murder of Thomas BecketWe don't live in a monarchy, and efforts to insulate a U.S. President from criticism should fail and will fail if we haven't lost track of our role as citizens.
King Henry II of England is often said to have stated of Archbishop of Canterbury Thomas Becket, "Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest?" Becket was indeed murdered, although the king denied that his plea was to be taken in such a way.
(And, as noted a few posts ago, these Washington writers are nauseatingly dependent on clichés. The food chain, heads up. "Food chain" isn't even the right cliché. Perino meant the chain of command. That other chain. Django Unchained. Chain of Fools. Chains, my baby's got me locked up in chains. Workers of the world unite. You have nothing to lose but your chains. Ball and chain. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Chain smoking. Hey, I'm only yanking your chain.)