By L&T Publisher Earl Watt
Less than 24 hours after the third scandal rocked the Obama Administration in less than a week, comparisons to the Nixon Administration started to fly.
It may seem the natural place to look when a president is being less than truthful with the American people to reflect on the only president in history to resign the office.
But the evidence would indicate two very different set of circumstances and vastly different approaches that make the two very, very different.
The re-election of both men is the first place to begin to decipher how different both were perceived prior to the scandals.
Republican Richard Nixon won 49 states while Democratic challenger George McGovern won Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. The electoral tally was 520-17.
This was an improvement from his first election in 1968 where he won 310 electoral votes while Hubert Humphrey won 191 and George Wallace took most of the south with 46 electoral votes.
Democrat Barack Obama came to office winning 365 electoral votes in his first election, but that number dropped to 332 in his re-election. Obama became the first president ever re-elected with less support in his second term than his first, and he carried 26 states to Republican challenger Mitt Romney’s 24.
While the nation was united in its selection of Nixon, it was, and is, staunchly divided with Obama.
The Watergate scandal that rocked the Nixon Administration was a dumb burglary of the Democratic polling center (The Watergate Hotel) in attempt to see how the Democratic polling compared to the Republican polls.
Obviously, the information was irrelevant, but the crime was committed by supporters nonetheless.
At that time, Nixon had no knowledge of the break-in, and should have fired the burglars on the spot and moved on. If he had, he might be celebrated as one of the nation’s best presidents.
Instead, the bungling began as he tried to cover it up.
That was his downfall.
At this time, we do not know what Obama knew and when he knew it. We do not know if he made the decision to leave the Benghazi consulate undefended. We do not know if he directed the IRS to attack conservative groups. We do not know if he asked the Justice Department to tap the phone lines of the Associated Press.
If he didn’t know before, just like Nixon, we all know that he does know now, and the next few months will determine if he makes the same mistakes Nixon made that brought an end to his presidency.
There were other key differences that made Nixon’s situation much more difficult.
The two men have very different relationships with the press.
While Obama has enjoyed a slobbering love affair with the media, Nixon had the hounds at his doorstep at all times, never letting up, always criticizing and challenging him on every front.
Obama has had the luxury of a press that defends his every move, looks the other way and worships at his altar.
Obama was so emboldened with the media that when his senior adviser, David Axelrod, took a job with MSNBC, Obama quipped that, “Axelrod now works for MSNBC. For years, MSNBC worked for him.”
Nixon, on the other hand told the media at a press conference, “Don't get the impression that you arouse my anger. You see, one can only be angry with those he respects.”
Nixon also had bipartisan success. As a Republican, he worked with Democrats and established the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Endowment for the Arts. He had foreign affairs success by bringing an end to Vietnam and opening relations with China.
Obama has had no bipartisan success at all nor does he care to do so.
And when the heat came, Nixon’s own staff was willing to do the right thing and tell the truth. Obama’s staff will never violate the mafia mentality of Chicago-style politics. Protect the godfather at all costs.
Nixon also served in an era where party was second to the basic principles of country. Republican votes would be needed to remove him from office, and had he not resigned they would have voted to do so.
Today, Obama knows he will never face that kind of pressure from his own party. The attitude today is that a dictator who violates the basic rules of country are okay, so long as he is our dictator.
Partisan politics are the norm, and if a smoking gun was found under the White House pillow, Democrats would contend that a Republican put it there.
Obama has nothing to fear, because the divided nation is exactly what will keep him in office should the scandals be connected to the Oval Office.
Nixon did not have that luxury. Back then, people were loyal to the country first, and even though Nixon was elected with millions of votes of Democrats as well as Republicans, when you were less than honest with the American people, you were held accountable.
Nixon also had to work with strong Democratic majorities in the House and Senate. Obama has a firewall of Democrats in the Senate, which makes him untouchable.
To compare the two is completely unfair to Nixon and to the era in which he served.