Paul Greenberg
Recommend this article

"We're not going to have another Watergate in our lifetime. I'm sure."

--Bob Woodward

"History does not repeat itself, but it does rhyme."

--Attributed to Mark Twain

Check your calendar. Is this 2013 or 1973? Is the president of the United States named Barack Obama or Richard M. Nixon? Because the latest series of unfolding scandals in Washington looks, sounds -- and smells -- awfully familiar.

Last week a cache of emails was uncovered that reveals this administration's hectic attempts to cover its tracks on Benghazi, tracks that lead straight to the White House -- with a stop at the State Department.

More of these candid emails will surely become public before all the official investigations and committee hearings are concluded. It's a safe bet that the revelations have just started.

Shades of Watergate -- updated to fit the computerized times. No more clumsy tape recordings with their 18 1/2-minute gaps, but emails that are proving the equivalent of the Nixon Tapes.

Now we get this era's version of Mr. Nixon's infamous Enemies List, too: The director of the division of the IRS that oversees tax-exempt organizations apologized last week for targeting those that have suspicious words like Tea Party or Patriot in their names.

To quote Director Lois Lerner: "We made some mistakes; some people didn't use good judgment. For that we're apologetic." Right. Just some mistakes. Or as Ronald Reagan would say, slipping into the passive voice for once, Mistakes Were Made.

Surely it was only a coincidence that the IRS didn't target organizations with words like Progressive or Ninety-Nine Percent in their names. Just as the Enemies List compiled by Richard Nixon included only left-wing types -- or those he thought were left-wing in his all-consuming paranoia. These days it's a Vast Right-Wing Conspiracy, to use Hillary Clinton's term, that draws special attention from the IRS.

Don't worry. This administration's flacks and hacks can explain everything. Just as convincingly as poor Ron Ziegler, press secretary and general obfuscator, had to change his story every time an old one fell apart as Watergate unfolded. ("This is the operative statement. The others are inoperative.")

When it first emerged during the congressional campaign of 2012 that the IRS was targeting conservative groups for audits, the story was denied outright: "There's absolutely no targeting." --IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman, March 2012. Ron Ziegler couldn't have put it better. Or worse.

Recommend this article

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.