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Katy Burns

Katy Burns: Watergate? Are you crazy?

It was inevitable. In a short press conference Thursday, a downy-cheeked young reporter – couldn’t have been more than 35 – asked President Obama: How do you respond to these comparisons of you with Richard Nixon and Watergate?

The president smiled a bit ruefully. “I’ll let you guys engage in these comparisons. You can go ahead and read the history and make your own comparisons.” It was a classic and supremely logical Barack Obama response. Surely you can’t take seriously these absurd comparisons, is his implicit message. You must know the true horror of the huge steaming pile of presidential corruption that became conveniently known as Watergate.

Wrong response, Mr. President. Do not, ever, expect that people remember last week, never mind 40 years ago or more. And by “people” I mean in this case national reporters, who tend to run in packs and react en masse to shiny distractions.

The truth is that Americans’ relationship with history is fleeting, at best. We have been, since the country’s inception, a forward looking people. We discard the past as inconvenient, especially if it’s unpleasant, and we anticipate the future and the conquering of new frontiers.

Watergate is a distant memory. Richard Nixon, in a brilliant bit of personal reinvention and rehabilitation, became to some a respected, if not loved, senior statesman before he died. Almost everyone else implicated in that horrific chapter in our national history is either dead or doddering. “Watergate” has become shorthand for any old government scandal, however insignificant.

Sometimes it’s nice to be a person of a certain age, as they say. Especially a person of a certain age who back in the day obsessively followed the travails of Richard Nixon, the whole slow-motion train wreck he made of his presidency and the trauma he inflicted on the country in the process. It was a compelling drama, almost Shakespearean in its ultimate portrait of a man destroyed by his own paranoia.

And it was traumatic. Before it was over, Nixon and his enablers had corrupted almost every part of government they could influence. What came to notice initially was an inexplicable break-in at the national headquarters of the Democratic Party – housed in D.C.’s Watergate complex, thus the scandal’s moniker – which turned out to be an attempt by the Committee to Re-Elect the President (CREEP, fittingly enough) to plant listening devices there.

By the time it ended, 40 members of the Nixon administration – including the nation’s chief law enforcement official, the

attorney general – had been sentenced to hard jail time. Nixon himself very nearly was one of them.

As the nation learned from exhaustive testimony before Congress – corroborated by hours and hours of secret tapes recorded by a vainglorious Nixon and wrenched from his control by a unanimous Supreme Court decision – actual felonies were hatched in the sanctity of the Oval Office. Enemies’ lists were compiled, revenge against perceived foes plotted.

A rogue’s gallery of shadowy individuals and thugs was financed through a slush fund to do the administration’s dirty work, namely to discredit Nixon’s political foes, and it was coordinated by the president’s closest advisers, who conferred regularly with the man himself.

Dealing with the many facets of what we call Watergate consumed the Congress of the United States, both House and Senate. It was a significantly less partisan era than today, and members of both parties seemed united in a search for truth. As data poured out, especially after release of the Oval Office tapes and the corruption they revealed – what conspirator-turned-truth teller John Dean memorably called “a cancer on the presidency” – there was astonishing agreement on nearly all sides that for the good of the nation the 37th president of the United States had to go.

A group of graybeards – distinguished senior lawmakers – confronted Nixon with the unpleasant fact that he would surely be both impeached and convicted. The president was finally persuaded to resign.

And Nixon himself very likely would have been the 41st person to be convicted for Watergate offenses had not his successor, Gerald Ford, granted him a complete and unconditional pardon when he took office. Ford felt – and many came over time to agree – that the nation had to be spared the final trauma of a former U.S. president on trial.

And this is what certain pundits and even some sitting lawmakers are trying to compare the Obama administration’s recent controversies to?

It is beyond absurd.

(Monitor columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)

Legacy Comments4

Obama and Nixon have many traits in common, the most pronounced trait shared is narcissism. Both hold/held a view that they were invincible. Both hold/held a view that they should be above the law and that their agenda trumped the will of the people. Now, it is not certain that Obama gave the order to the IRS that they needed to investigate conservative groups and let's not forget that it was not only conservative groups, it included Jewish groups who supported Israel. But let's move beyond Obama for a moment and compare the groups investigated which are an exact duplication of those requested to be investigated by Democrat members of Congress. Yes, Democrat members of Congress with not a single Republican among them and guess what? Jeanne Shaheen was one of them. If that is not "politics" then I don't know what it is called. Bottom line, the fish rots from the head and Congress is as much to blame as anyone. Even if Obama and the White House did not order this done, he is still responsible for the actions of his administration, appointments, direct and indirect reports. Second, if he did not give the direct order, his attitude towards Republicans and conservatives sets the tone for subordinates to choose to do things like investigate people unfairly and target those opposed to the White House. That is just as serious. Like I said, the fish rots from the head.

Katy the massive Obama sycophant can you tell your readers, how many American Ambassador’s died at the Watergate Hotel? How many Navy Seals died during Watergate? Those Navy Seals died because Obama wanted to be re-elected and Obama didn’t want America know he is soft on terrorism only a few months before an election. The Fact is, no brave American died duri8ng Watergate. The Big horror in Watergate is that the Democrat Head Quarters was broken into, and that was covered up. Obama, and his Chicago thuggery way, makes Nixon look like an Altar Boy. The big differences between 1974 and today is that the press hated Nixon and would do anything to destroy him and today press loves Obama and would do anything to protect him no matter how corrupt he is. Thank-goodness for the alternative press and Fox News for getting out the truth. It is Amazing how little a Concord Monitor reader knows about all of Obama’s scandals. Fast and Furious, Benghazi, IRS attacking Obama’s enemies, AP being recorded and on and on and on. One would think that the Monitor wants to make sure that their readers are low information voters.

Huh..Obama must really be in trouble...2 columns from Katy today.

Thanks Katy, you actually did point out the similarities between WG and today's scandals. You might have even inspired some folks to look up Warergate and read about it. As far as the press goes. They have been guilty of covering this adminstration with a security blanket that prevents any fair reporting on everything Obama. I am sure many are pretty upset that with the pileup of scandals, the press has to actually cover them now, or expose themselves to how biased they are.

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