Richard Nixon was the same. Even in the darkest days of Watergate, Nixon had a network of friends and supporters in positions of power. One only has to look at the current White House to find them.
Both men relied on the power of personal ties and political party to bind followers to them, and each had an enthusiastic legislative echo chamber. For Rowland, especially, the Republican Party became his first and greatest line of defense in the face of scandal.
Almost exactly two years ago, during the days just after Rowland's admission that he had lied about contracting work done on his cabin, Republicans sprang into action:
With their leader under fire politically and legally, the state Republican Party is launching a multi-pronged counterattack against Democratic calls for Gov. John G. Rowland to resign.
The GOP's rally-the-troops effort involves calling all 71 Republican state legislators in the state House and Senate to directly spread Rowland's message and seek input from all corners of the state. In public and in private, Republicans have already started to rally around Rowland. Rell and U.S. Rep. Nancy Johnson were both standing side by side Sunday with Rowland in South Windsor at a party for family members of Connecticut National Guard troops who are deployed overseas. (Keating)
It was only when Republicans like Shays began turning on Rowland in droves that his resignation became inevitable. In the beginning, however, Republicans seemed willing to defend their leader come hell or high water.
So what happened? Now, Republicans seem to be blessed with a governor whose approval ratings are consistently among the highest in the nation, and whose re-election seems assured (thus granting the Republican Party another four years of influence in state government) in 2006.
Yet when a mild ethics scandal is threatening the governor's chief of staff, the only thing anyone is hearing from the state Republican Party is a deafening silence. Where are Rell's friends and defenders? Where are her partisans?
The answer may be that she doesn't really have any. Republicans, who would ordinarily make up the majority of her supporters, have been increasingly alientated by her moderate-to-liberal positions on publicly-funded elections and civil unions. The governor's support in the legislature has been on the wane. Just three Republicans voted for the campaign finance reform package that she had been pushing since February, despite promises from the governor's office that the bill would have GOP support. Republicans are also not pleased that she has assented to Democratic tax increases, and has proposed a few of her own.
Conservatives have a lingering suspicion, seemingly confirmed by her support for minimum wage increases, civil unions, public financing of elections and tax increases, that she is not one of them. Rowland was, so they would move heaven and earth for him. Rell, on the other hand, only provokes the mildest of enthusiasm from most Republicans.
Democrats, despite the fact that she has either implemented, assisted or allowed much of their agenda, see the "R" next to her name, remember the ten years she spent at Rowland's side, and treat her as the opposition.
So when things get tough next year, as they inevitably will, where will Jodi Rell turn?
Keating, Christopher and David Lightman. "GOP Rallies Around Rowland; But Shays Critical of Governor." Hartford Courant 16 December, 2003.