Watergate Amnesia, The ‘Nixonian’ Slur, And Other Big LiesMay 30th, 2013 11:29 pm Joe Conason
Let’s state this very simply, so everybody will understand. The notion that Barack Obama is “Nixonian” — or that his administration’s recent troubles bear any resemblance to “Watergate” — is the biggest media lie since the phony “Whitewater scandal” crested during the Clinton presidency.
Fraudulent as it is, we have listened repeatedly to versions of this bogus comparison uttered by figures as diverse as former Fox News commentator Dick Morris and Bob Woodward of the Washington Post, alongside a phalanx of Republican politicians, including Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) – whose latest attack ad directly links Obama with Nixon.
Only in a country afflicted with chronic historical amnesia could they issue such accusations without shame or embarrassment. Only under those circumstances could the Republicans continue their fitful fabrication of a “Democratic Watergate” without fear of being laughed off the stage. It is a project that they will never grow tired of pursuing.
Coming from figures such as former White House political boss Karl Rove and Fox News chief Roger Ailes — both of whom worked for Nixon and defended him with vigor — the hypocrisy is stunning. They can only say words like “Watergate” or “Nixonian” because most Americans have forgotten who they really are behind the respectable masks – or never knew.
The last time we heard Obama mentioned in the same breath as Watergate was in 2009, when Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) – the same Issa who has labored for months to pump air into the Benghazi “scandal” – decided that a job offered to a potential political candidate had erupted into a Constitutional crisis. Is it necessary to note that nothing of consequence ever emerged from Issa’s investigation back then? Yet somehow, he maintains credibility with the Washington media.
So does Graham, who slandered Susan Rice over the Benghazi talking points, which he deemed “worse than Watergate” – an assertion since proved entirely wrong, irresponsible, and vicious. Nevertheless Graham is treated as someone worthy of airtime and quotation, rather than a discredited blowhard.
But certain liberals in the media have fretted loudly over Obama’s “scandals,” too. Is it reasonable to compare the Benghazi incident, the vetting of abused tax exemptions by the IRS, or the Justice Department’s leak investigations with the Watergate crisis? Or is it all just trumped-up hysteria? To answer those questions, it helps to remember what Nixon and his gang actually did to America – and why they were driven out of Washington and, in many cases, sent to prison.