One of the more unexpected condemnations of Felt in this hero-or-villain controversy came from Peggy Noonan, who, writing in The Wall Street Journal, managed to blame Felt for the genocide in Cambodia. Here is Noonan's reasoning:
What Mr. Felt helped produce was a weakened president who was a serious president at a serious time. Nixon's ruin led to a cascade of catastrophic events--the crude and humiliating abandonment of Vietnam and the Vietnamese, the rise of a monster named Pol Pot, and millions--millions--killed in his genocide.... Is it terrible when an American president lies and surrounds himself by dirty tricksters? Yes, it is. How about the butchering of children in the South China Sea. Is that worse? Yes. Infinitely, unforgettably and forever.Some might point out that one could take another step back and say that breaking into the headquarters of a seriously trailing political rival might also have been rash, since it led to a criminal investigation, which in turn led to the truth coming out, which, as Noonan demonstrates, allowed Mark Felt to lay waste to much of Southeast Asia.
But was Felt as bad as Peggy Noonan? After all, Noonan's speechwriting helped Reagan to remain powerful as president. This got him elected to a second term, during which time he provided aid to the minority Tutsi government in Burundi, which stoked ethnic tensions in the region, which eventually culminated in the Rwandan genocide. Is it terrible when a president like Jimmy Carter causes stagflation? Yes, it is. But is Rwanda worse? Yes, infinitely, unforgettably, and forever.
Of course, some critics might accuse us of idiotic reasoning. But not Peggy Noonan--we know she'd understand.