Fred Malek, White House special assistant during the Nixon Administration and later RN’s Deputy Director of OMB, and also finance co-chairman of Sen. John McCain’s 2008 presidential campaign, was appointed last month by Virginia Governor Robert McDonnell to head a commission to seek ways to improve the efficiency of the Old Dominion’s state government.  Soon after that announcement, not unexpectedly, many liberal-leaning pundits and bloggers brought up an old controversy surrounding Malek.
In 1971, President Nixon, feeling that some employees of the Bureau of Labor Statistics were releasing economic data in such a way as to embarrass his White House, told his Chief of Staff, H.R. Haldeman, that he wanted someone to look into the matter.  Haldeman chose Malek for this task. RN thought that most of the BLS employees he held responsible for spinning the numbers in an unfriendly fashion were Jewish, and this notion was conveyed by Haldeman to Malek. Malek looked into the matter, rather reluctantly, and obliged the President by arranging for the transfer of an employee or two from the BLS.

When memos concerning RN’s request and Malek’s work to fulfill it were made public a little over twenty years ago, Malek publicly apologized for what he had done, and many Jewish leaders (and prominent Jewish civic leaders who’d worked with him over the years) accepted his apology.  The current attempts to stir this tempest has just met with an impassioned reply from one of America’s most famous Jews (and onetime Nixon speechwriter), Ben Stein, in the American Spectator’s site:

There may be a more ridiculous story than that Fred Malek back in the much missed Nixon days was a kind of “Jew counter” in some kind of anti-Semitic way, but it would be hard to imagine what it would be[…]

Richard Nixon, in a silly moment, asked if the economists in the BLS who were giving out the data were his political enemies and if they were Jews. Now, bear in mind, Nixon was BY FAR the best friend the Jewish people have ever had since Abraham. He had the most Jewish appointees to high offices, the most pro-Israel foreign and defense policy in history, saved Israel in the Yom Kippur War, put Russia at bay about helping Egypt in that war — was just the best friend Jews have ever had, including Jews themselves.

But Nixon believed, with good reason, that most economists at the BLS were Jews and that most of them were Democrats and wondered if there was some connection between those facts and the bad news from the BLS[…]

So, Bob Haldeman, chief of staff at the White House, was asked to find out about the political and ethnic complexion of the BLS economists. Again, there was never any hint of any kind of consequence and everyone, including RN, knew it was a kind of silly, pixilated, quest.

So, Haldeman tasked his deputy, Fred Malek, one of the nicest guys on the planet, with finding this out. Malek did it, and reported it, and that was the end of it.

Now, again, to coin a phrase, bear in mind, this was 40 years ago, when the same kind of PC notions that we take for granted about race and ethnicity were not in vogue. It was routine to discuss ethnicity in terms of achievement, ability, crime, et cetera. Now, of course, the only ethnic thinking allowed is to hold Israel to an impossible standard of assisted suicide.

But, again, no action was taken by Nixon about the BLS, and life went on. It was just one of RN’s brief obsessions. I doubt if he remembered it five days later.

Fred Malek went on to build an enormous career after government working mostly with Jews. Nixon, again, went on to be the true savior of Eretz Israel. To allege, 40 years later, that a fine public servant without a morsel of racism in him, Fred Malek, was somehow an anti-Semite, to allege that Nixon was an anti-Semite, is simple nonsense. That’s it. End of story.