Scandal overshadowing Obama\'s 2nd term
The Hiller Instinct: Scandal overshadowing Obama's 2nd term
When President Barack Obama looks into a mirror, he’d like to see Abraham Lincoln, or F.D.R., two of the nation’s most respected presidents. But the image that’s in some people’s mind right now is Richard Nixon, the president who was overwhelmed by scandal.
The biggest, of course, was Watergate, but Nixon also had an enemies list of people who criticized him, targeting them for tax audits.
Now, Obama has to deal with an I.R.S. that targeted politically conservative groups, and Republicans are already using the words of Watergate:
“We want to know exactly who knew what and when? How high up did it go?” Senate Minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said.
The president is even losing support from liberal Democrats:
“Whether they’re targeting right or left, that is wrong,” Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) said.
The second scandal the president faces is the Justice Department’s secret subpoenas for the phone records of Associated Press reporters, some of whom cover the federal government. Even one of the reporters who broke the Watergate story sees a similarity:
“Object of it was to intimidate people who talk to reporters. There’s no excuse for it whatsoever,” journalist Carl Bernstein said.
And then there’s the drip, drip, drip of details about Benghazi, and how honest the president was about the terrorist attack there. He insists it’s all politics:
“There’s no ‘there’ there,” he said.
But there’s plenty there because of the promise he made the day he took office:
“Let me say it as simply as I can, transparency and the rule of law will be the touchstones of this presidency,” the president said on January 21, 2009.
For me, Watergate isn’t just a memory, it’s one of the first stories I covered. It started out as a “third-rate burglary” and ended up claiming a president. I don’t know where President Obama’s scandals end, but I do know we’re not near the end.