The Watergate break in occurred a little less than five months before Richard Nixon defeated George McGovern in a landslide on November 7, 1972. By all accounts, the “third-rate burglary” at DNC headquarters that previous June was not on the mind of the average voter. Of course, this soon gave way to an escalating scandal that polarized the nation and paralyzed the government. By late April 1973, the White House had been rocked by resignations and firings and Nixon’s political ship was taking on significant water.
There are, of course, significant differences between then and now—but I think a case can be made that should President Obama win a second term, he may very well face the kind of music he has somehow stayed above during this current campaign. If he wins, it won’t be a Nixonian landslide—but he may very well find himself mired in a Watergate-like experience as the details about what is now referred to as Benghazi-gate emerge and become unavoidable—and undeniable.
Second terms seldom turn out really well for incumbents. Recent history may even suggest that any president who wants a second term should possibly have his head examined. It’s a classic case of the adage, “be careful what you ask for.” Too many presidents, re-elected in triumph, have eventually left office extremely unpopular. And should Mr. Obama somehow squeak by on November 6th, there are clear signs that his future could very well be one of frustration and failure.
Will Benghazi become Barack Obama’s Watergate? Quite possibly—and not just as the latest political application of the appendage, “gate”—but because there is actually some “there” there.
It is just a matter of time before someone breaks rank and blows a whistle. And the famous Howard Baker query from way back when—“What did the president know and when did he know it?”—may soon be heard more and more and grow to haunt the White House.
It is the nature of the escalation of a scandal involving more than smoke and mirrors that someone who has been thrown under the proverbial bus will finally say, “Enough.” Forty years ago, it was a guy named James McCord (one of the Watergate burglars). He handed a note to a judge and soon the story had new legs. Of course, there were a couple of ambitious reporters on the trail doing the spadework. But it would be a while before the rest of the media would take them or their story seriously.
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