G. William Miller: A Power Elite Analysis

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While this Washington Post obituary of former Fed chairman G. William Miller is fairly straight forward it does omit some major backstory details spelled out in Elites in American History: The New Deal to the Carter Administration, by Philip H. Burch, Jr. Curiously Miller’s name is not mentioned in Thomas R. Dye’s Who’s Running America: The Carter Years (but then neither is his successor as Fed chairman, the quintessential establishment man Paul Volker – Princeton, Harvard, London School of Economics, Fed economist, Chase Manhattan Bank economist and John J. McCloy/David Rockefeller protégé, high treasury department official, trustee of the Rockefeller Foundation, director of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Trilateral Commission member).

The Sapulpa, Oklahoma-born Miller did not come from a privileged northeastern seaboard, Ivy League background. He graduated from the United States Coast Guard Academy. It appears that the key to his rise in elite policy planning circles was his recruitment to the powerful Wall Street law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore.

From then on it was onward and upward through various corporatist entities comprising the institutional nexus of the power elite establishment such as the Business Council and the Business Roundtable and chairman of the National Industrial Conference Board and of the National Alliance of Businessmen. Chase Manhattan Bank chairman David Rockefeller was also chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations, North American chairman of the Trilateral Commission, an active member of the Business Council and member of the policy committee of the Business Roundtable).

Phillip H. Burch, Jr. notes concerning the crucial year 1979:

Shortly after presenting his new energy plan, President Carter announced that as a result of his Camp David deliberations, he was making some major changes in his Cabinet and, to a lesser extent, in his personal staff. He then accepted the formally tendered resignations of two of his Cabinet officers, (attorney general) Griffin Bell and the heavily criticized (energy secretary) James Schlesinger, and fired two others, (treasury secretary) Blumenthal and (HEW secretary) Joseph Califano, both of whom had strained relations with certain members of the Georgia-dominated White House staff. A fifth Cabinet member, (transportation secretary) Brock Adams, quit, stating that he would not submit to executive interference with the operation of his department. At the same time, the President’s longtime top aide and campaign manager, Hamilton Jordan, was elevated to the position of White House chief of staff. The net effect of this massive shake-up was to create much consternation and confusion.   

Fed chairman Miller was appointed treasury secretary to replace W. Michael Blumenthal (Ph.D. in economics from Princeton – and later Princeton trustee, board of director of the Rockefeller Foundation, CFR trustee, and Trilateral Commission member).

Phillip H. Burch, Jr. further notes:

Indeed, according to the New York Times, there were two men who played extremely important roles in Miller’s selection as Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board (and one may assume, as Secretary of the Treasury), both of who were members of President Carter’s informal corporate “brain trust.” They were Irving Shapiro, the head of the du Pont Co., who was the (1977-78) chairman of the Business Roundtable, a vice-chairman of the Business Council, and a trustee of the Conference Board, and Reginald Jones, the chief executive officer of GE, who was a co-chairman of the Business Roundtable and a member of the executive committee of the Business Council.

Burch candidly observes in a footnote:

The only significant difference between Blumenthal and Miller was that the former had, through his civic and corporate links, a greater Rockefeller orientation, while Miller was obviously an integral part of the organizational nexus (the Business Council and Business Roundtable) of America’s economic establishment.

There had been three interlocking power blocs behind Carter’s ascendency to the presidency, that of the Trilateral Commission, IBM, and Coca Cola. One does not comprehend various Cabinet appointments and major policy decisions of the administration without cognizance of these facts.

Carter had done the elite’s bidding regarding the Panama Canal and other major foreign policy initiatives but had become entrapped in the Iranian Hostage Crisis as a result of eventually caving into John J. McCloy, David Rockefeller, and Henry Kissinger’s repeated pleading to let the deposed Shah of Iran enter the US for treatment of his life-threatening cancer despite the dire warnings of the Shite insurgent regime which had toppled the Iranian despot. The taking of the US embassy hostages resulted in the major foreign policy debacle that eventually brought his administration down.

I believe by this time of these 1979 Cabinet shake-ups the upper echelons of the elite establishment had long decided to ditch Jimmy Carter for George Herbert Walker Bush.

The rise of Ronald Reagan’s presidential prospects seriously challenged these plans. Eventually Reagan met with David Rockefeller in a “come to Jesus” moment and agreed to his GOP primary challenger Bush as his running mate.

After the 1980 October Surprise was implemented against Carter, assuring his electoral defeat, the Powers-That-Be had to wait until early 1981 to execute a back-up strategy: the assassination of Reagan. While the bullets failed to kill Reagan, after his return from the hospital the Bush forces were in de facto control, led by Bush loyalist White House chief of staff James Baker. Actor Reagan was left playing his role of a lifetime as president for the next eight years.

Finally I must confess that I join many others in asserting that Jimmy Carter is the best of our ex-presidents over the past half century. (Of course this is like saying he is the best former Mafia Don of the organized crime Syndicate, which is essentially what he is and was.) Carter is not perfect, no one is. But his intellectual curiosity and integrity seem to have grown considerably since leaving office. His earnest commitments to such projects as Habitat for Humanity have been admirable.

Carter’s view on America and her place in the world have not calcified or become rigidly frozen as with Johnson, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, both Bushes, and Clinton. He has been willing, repeatedly, to take rather bold unconventional positions (within the staid paradigm of the acceptable establishment political spectrum) on issues of the drug war, the Middle East, and violations of human rights, etc. For all of this he should be commended.

While he was president I strongly opposed his administration’s policies (both foreign and domestic) and saw him as a Rockefeller stooge because of the open domination of his cabinet (and sub-cabinet) by members of the Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations. Who can ever forget Zbigniew Brzezinski as national security advisor, double-digit inflation, or the Iranian Hostage Crisis?

But like Carter I have not remained stagnant in evaluating the world around us. Intense study of the “October Surprise” Scandal of 1980 and how the Reagan/Bush campaign (with aid from covert intelligence sources) essentially stole the election was one of the first elements of my reevaluation of Carter.

Then Walter Karp’s illuminating (and very neglected) book, Liberty Under Siege: American Politics 1976-1988, demonstrated that Carter was surrounded (engulfed) by enemies within the Democratic Party (left, right, and center) from the very beginning of his presidency, from Tip O’Neil, Ted Kennedy, Henry “Scoop” Jackson, the AFL-CIO on down. Jackson’s wing of the party morphed into the neocons, becoming the incubus of the cancerous beast which has devoured the American Republic.

As Murray Rothbard noted:

The burgeoning neocons were able to confuse and addle the Democratic Party by breaking with the Carter Administration, at the same time militantly and successfully pressuring it from within. The neocons formed two noisy front groups, the Coalition for a Democratic Majority and the Committee on the Present Danger. By means of these two interlocking groups and their unusual access to influential media, the neocons were able to pressure the Carter Administration into breaking the détente with Russia over the Afghanistan imbroglio and influencing Carter to get rid of the dove Cyrus Vance as Secretary of State and to put foreign policy power into the hands of the Polish émigré hawk and Rockefeller Trilateralist, Zbigniew Brzezinski. In the meantime, the neocons pushed the hysterically hawkish CIA “B” Team report, wailing about alleged Soviet nuclear superiority, which in turn paved the way for the vast gift of spending handed to the military-industrial complex by the incoming Regan Administration. The Afghanistan and “B” Team hysterias, added to the humiliation by the Ayatollah, managed not only to kill off the bedeviled Carter Administration, but also to put the boots to non-intervention and to prepare the nation for a scrapping of the “post-Vietnam syndrome” and a return to the warmongering of the pre-Vietnam Era.

Much revisionist revelations have also surfaced that the real drive for deregulation of the economy, especially in telecommunications and transportation actually began under Carter and not the hallowed free marketer Ronald Reagan.

These are just a few items to note. There should be many more dedicated and impartial revisionist scholarly studies which follow up on these points and more when evaluating Carter.

One only wishes Jimmy Carter would issue a candid, tell-all memoir along these lines before he dies. (See my anarchteacher review of this powerful one-of-a-kind book.)

12:22 am on July 7, 2013