The saga of Walter Kendall Myers and Gwendolyn Myers, spies, has amused me far more than it should.
I'm sure it is a tragedy for the Myers family and the unfolding tale of espionage and intrigue - sort of - has caused profound embarrassment to an American foreign policy establishment that has bungled Cuban policy since Ike was president.
Kendall, 72 and the great-grandson of Alexander Graham Bell, had a long career as a State Department analyst while Gwendolyn, now 71, parlayed some Capitol Hill experience and "political activism," in the arch parlance of the New York Times, into a covert career than has more in common with the comic fiction of Donald Westlake and Carl Hiaasen than with spymaster Aldrich Ames.
The Myers are pretty clearly guilty of something. And since their crimes are of no particular consequence, they are of course being held without bail. Better they should have looted Wall Street or figured out a way to get us involved in two bloody wars and steal millions of taxpayers dollars in the process. With few exceptions, those activities earn you a spot in the Obama kitchen Cabinet or a seat of power at the American Enterprise Institute.
Over time, the Myers allegedly sent documents to a Cuban government that cannot get out of its own way. They made copies of these mysterious documents and passed them to intermediaries in grocery stores. And they once had an audience with Fidel Castro.
As far as U.S. law enforcement can determine the Myers took no money for these activities, which is good because all evidence suggests the Cuban government doesn't have any money.
In short, nitwits.
To be more specific, '60s nitiwits. My people. McGovern supporters (It was 1972, kids). Guilt-ridden bleeding hearts. Ruling class liberals. World savers. Fans of the United Nations. To each according to his need; let's get some sushi.
In 1979, in their 40s, Kendall followed Gwendolyn Steingraber to Pierre S.D. where she had a job in the Public Utilities Commission, helping farmers use alternative energy sources. Perfect. Kendall worked on a biography of British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain, the most celebrated appeaser of the 20th century. He was apparently a man Kendall admired. Perfect.
They grew marijuana plants in their South Dakota basement until the cops showed up. Again, perfect. Gwendolyn lost her political appointee's job and the pair returned to Washington, got married and became Cuban agents 202 and 123. Nitwits.
I'm thinking a 13-episode sitcom here. Kendall and Gwendolyn's Excellent Adventure.
Of course it wasn't the spying that drew attention to Agents 202 and 123. Remember the 9/11 terrorists and the flying lessons? As they say down South, the foreign policy crowd couldn't make cornbread if you gave them a cornbread-making machine,
No, apparently Kendall Myers made an unauthorized speech at a university suggesting that President George W. Bush had duped British Prime Minister Tony Blair into supporting the Iraq war.
Not very diplomatic, but I doubt any of Blair's friends or family would dispute that assessment. But the British press picked up the speech, painted Myers as something more than a Foggy Bottom contractor and that's part of what got the government's attention.
I don't know what sorts of papers the hapless Myers' gang was passing along to the Fidelistas. They'd have done Cuba more good if they'd smuggled in new transmissions and tires for those 1956 Chevy Bel Airs that crowd Havana streets.
This is a country that imports 80% of its food. The average worker makes about $21 a month, U.S. It has a well-educated population, so it trades doctors and nurses for oil from Hugo Chavez.
Cuba and Castro have played no significant role in world affairs since the 1960s, save annoying two generations of U.S. presidents and generations of foreign policy geniuses of the sort who gave Kendall Myers a Top Security clearance.
By the book, Kendall and Gwendolyn are a bit old to qualify as Baby Boomers, but I know this crowd. My guess is that they spied for Cuba - if the charges are true - because they spent their own lives being disappointed by the policy failings and moral failings of their own government. You know, Vietnam. The Reagan adventures. Iran-contra. Decades of failure in the Middle East. A history of backing the wrong side of history in places such as Iran.
They fell for the socialist myth of Cuba and El Jefe, as many in my political crowd did, long ago. It's just that most bleeding hearts saw through the mythology 35 years ago or so.
They'll probably bring the hammer down on Kendall and Gwendolyn and Fox News will probably spend itself trying to link them to the Symbionese Liberation Army, or at least to William Ayers.
If they're going to do time, I hope it's a place they can sit around, have an herbal tea and talk about the Port Huron Statement.
Look it up.