Mark Twain famously suggested that history may not always repeat itself, but it did sometimes rhyme. And there are elements of the whole story about the attack on our consulate in Benghazi that seem to rhyme with Watergate.
First, what is happening internationally is not what Mr. Obama wants to talk about—it’s not his passion. The “fundamental transformation” of America is. He is a community organizer at heart and domestic issues are at the forefront of his political philosophy. Foreign affairs are a distraction, at best, and clearly now a very inconvenient focus. Nixon, on the other hand, had a passion for foreign affairs and his eyes glazed over when it came to domestic issues. He delegated that kind of stuff to others. In both cases, the primary focus created a blind side, by default.
Second, the mainstream media was relatively slow to cover Watergate. In those days, of course, the media was much smaller and largely controlled by a few major outlets. There were only three television networks and newspapers were still quite influential. Yet, even though the networks and major papers were decidedly anti-Nixon, they didn’t develop any real passion for the Watergate story until well after Nixon was re-elected.
Then the floodgates opened.
These days, Fox News, conservative talk radio, and a handful of periodicals are playing the Woodward and Bernstein role, while the mainstream media gives the White House a pass. But should the president find himself in the Oval Office on January 21, 2013, this will change, resignedly—maybe even, reluctantly by some—but it will change.
Finally, there are powerful interests and elements in government being thrown under the bus for temporal and expedient political purposes right now. It is only a matter of time before this big-tent cover up will start to get shaky. A tent pole here, another there, and the canvas will sag and then fall—but not before many more scramble out from under it and into the arms of a by-then welcoming media.
President Obama’s foreign policy has been a monumental failure and what happened on September 11th in Benghazi, Libya will endure as a glaring and very troubling example of this. Quite frankly, the systemic cover-up and the various terminological inexactitudes coming from the White House point to a scandal in the same league as the Watergate of 40 years ago—but with one critical difference.
No one died in Watergate.