Long before Watergate, I had a Nixon countdown calendar on my wall. Each day I used my red magic marker to bring us a day closer to a new President. I had voted for Nixon in my first election; that had been an easy choice over the hapless George McGovern. However soon after the election, it became clear that Nixon and his people had acted beyond the pale. It did not matter whether I had voted for him; he had gone too far.
Ignoring the adage that history tends to repeat itself, many of us who lived through those days thought they would never return. The convulsive effect of the downfall of the Nixon Administration was at the time so significant that a recurrence during our lifetime was unimaginable. Another White House enemies list? Unthinkable!
Yet it appears to be. Maybe they have not written down the names, but all other elements are there. Obama goes after a news organization just like Nixon went after the press, and had on his enemies’ list Daniel Schorr. Shutting down the opinions of a private company, as Obama did to Humana, is thuggishly reminiscent of the dirty-tricks crowd. Attacking the U.S. Chamber of Commerce seems like something distasteful that we have seen before.
When your arguments cannot be sustained, the easy thing to do is vilify your opponents. Nixon did it out of paranoia and Obama appears to be doing it because he is losing. The astonishing thing is that people like Henry Waxman, who rode into office on the back of Watergate, cannot pick up the phone and tell his colleagues to stop. It’s always sad when ideologues sacrifice the most cherished principles of this country for some minor – and temporary – political gain.
Like many other Americans, I watched Glenn Beck the other night just to see what all the fuss was about. Beck has his schtick. He is much too cutesy for me and not nearly erudite enough for my taste. He was making fun of Anita Dunn and her comments endorsing the political philosophy of the mass murderer Mao. Beck was straightforward and truthful, but to be honest, he gave me little reason to watch him again. Obama, Rahm Emanuel and Dunn have done this guy a favor by giving him the recognition he would likely never have otherwise received.
It reminds me of how no one thought the Democrats had a chance in the 1972 election, yet Nixon gave them too much attention. That brought disaster to Nixon and the Republicans. Obama risks suffering the same fate unless he calls the attack dogs off and starts acting presidential.