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Saturday, October 21, 2017

In these circumstances, a quick history lesson seems vital. For those who have forgottten or don’t know, Watergate is the name of an apartment complex near the Potomac River in northwest Washington, D.C., where then-President Nixon’s henchmen staged a “third-rate burglary” of the Democratic National Committee headquarters on a June night in 1972.

But Watergate came to stand for a vast agglomeration of gangster conspiracies based in the Nixon White House but spanning the nation. Watergate was a series of burglaries, warrantless domestic wiretaps, illegal spying, campaign dirty tricks, election tampering, money laundering, and assorted thuggish schemes conceived by a large and lawless gang whose leaders included G. Gordon Liddy and the late E. Howard Hunt.

And Watergate grew into a cover-up of those initial felonies with still more felonies, committed by lawyers and bureaucrats who collected cash payoffs from major corporations and then handed out hush money and secret campaign slush funds.

Eventually, Watergate implicated scores of perpetrators, from the right-wing Cuban footsoldiers all the way up to the president, his closest advisors, and his crooked stooges at the highest levels of the Justice Department, the FBI, and the CIA.

Again then, in what sense is the Benghazi tragedy – thoroughly investigated by an independent board, as provided by law – akin to Watergate? How is the IRS effort to vet the tax exemptions of Tea Party groups, which were violating their status brazenly, similar to Nixon’s criminal abuse of the agency to punish his enemies with audits? What makes the Justice Department probe of national security leaks, conducted with valid subpoenas, resemble the secret Nixon White House war against “enemies” in the press, which went so far as trumped-up FCC license challenges and even threats of violence against the Washington Post?

The answers are fairly obvious: None. Not at all. Nothing whatsoever.

And so far as we know, Attorney General Eric Holder hasn’t rung up any Fox News reporter drunkenly at midnight to warn that Roger Ailes is “going to get his tit caught in a big, fat wringer.” But if and when that ever happens, the chance to roll out the Watergate clichés will arrive at last — starting with “Nixonian.”

 

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