It happened at a party, and the story isn't apocryphal. It's been confirmed by too many people.
The tough guy lawyer and former FBI man enthralled the guests as held his hand near an open flame. As people gasped, the tough guy drew his hand nearer to the flame.
So this man, once described by a former supervisor at the bureau as a "wild man"and "superklutz," kept his hand near the flame long enough until his flesh started to burn. Finally, he withdrew it.
Someone asked him what the trick was.
"The trick," Gordon Liddy said, "is not minding."
Today, Liddy is 78 and is still going strong, his radio show syndicated by over 160 stations across the country.
It's hard to imagine that the White House was once crawling with creeps like Liddy, though, back in the day.
Liddy was a New Jersey kid, from Hoboken---the town of Frank Sinatra. He was raised Catholic, and eventually entered the Army, serving during the Korean War. But a burst appendix kept him home, as an artillery officer.
Then it was off to study law, at Fordham University, and who knows where Gordon got his penchant for wildness, as indicated by the unflattering adjectives mentioned above while Liddy worked for J. Edgar Hoover at the FBI. Yet Liddy earned multiple commendations from Hoover, becoming, at age 29, the youngest Bureau Supervisor the FBI had.
In what sounds like a scene from "And Justice for All...," Liddy once fired a gun in a courtroom during jury summation, while an assistant DA.
Liddy hooked up with Richard Nixon in 1968, running Nixon's presidential campaign in the 28th district of New York. That's how he muscled his way into the eventual president's inner circle.
Scary, isn't it, that the likes of Liddy and H.R. Haldeman and John Mitchell and John Ehrlichman ruled the roost at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Theirs was a secret society/Mafia/fraternity, all rolled into one. They engaged in political dirty tricks, unlawful surveillance, and threatened those who didn't share their views of politics, or of how a White House should be run.
G. Gordon Liddy (the "G" stands for George)
And these were the men who were advising Tricky Dick from 1969-73, until the you-know-what hit the fan and they all ended up in jail and Nixon resigned in disgrace.
It should be noted that it was Liddy who was the "mastermind" behind the Watergate burglary. He didn't participate, per se, but it was alleged that he supervised from a nearby building.
Most of those ne'er-do-wells from Nixon's inner circle are dead now---none of them really lived a long life---but Liddy persisted, authoring books, hosting radio shows, and even acting. He stopped pulling parlor tricks like the hand-over-the-flame thing, but he didn't really mellow.
He's made many controversial statements on the air, not the least of which was this gem, barked out in August, 1994.
"Now if the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms comes to disarm you and they are bearing arms, resist them with arms. Go for a head shot; they're going to be wearing bulletproof vests" ... "They've got a big target on there, ATF. Don't shoot at that, because they've got a vest on underneath that. Head shots, head shots.... Kill the sons of bitches."
Stuff like that.
Liddy acted in episodes of "Miami Vice" and "MacGyver," to name a couple. If you go to his website, you're hit smack in the face with the Capitol dome and an American flag.
It's funny, really, because Liddy spent a lot of his time in the White House trying to circumvent both of those institutions.
How do you suffer Gordon Liddy?
The trick is not minding.