Comparisons have been made recently between the lying, paranoia, arrogance and vindictiveness of the Nixon and Obama presidencies. But there may be no comparison.
Nixon may have just been outdone.
Certainly Nixon unashamedly rolled over people and the Constitution to cover up a third-rate burglary, and got caught.
But the cumulative effect of the Obama administration scandals – Benghazi, the IRS targeting of conservatives, the Justice Department’s secret seizure of Associated Press phone records, and let’s not forget the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal – may add up to much more than even Watergate.
In two of the four Obama administration scandals – Benghazi and Fast and Furious – people have died.
In the two longest-known scandals – Fast and Furious and Benghazi – there has also been stonewalling and obstruction by this administration. The attorney general was even held in contempt of Congress for the administration’s failure to come clean on its allowing illegal high-powered weapons to “walk” into Mexico and into the hands of ruthless drug cartels.
In two of the scandals – Fast and Furious and Benghazi – we still have victims’ families searching for answers as to how and why their loved ones died.
In the Benghazi scandal, high-placed Obama administration officials looked into the eyes of grieving relatives and told them an Internet video was to blame – which they knew to be a lie.
The AP scandal alone was termed a “nuclear event” by Watergate legend Carl Bernstein – who has been conspicuously and bizarrely slow to believe any allegations of impropriety coming from this White House.
“This is outrageous,” Bernstein said in a television interview this week. “It is totally inexcusable. This administration has been terrible on this subject from the beginning.
“The object of (obtaining phone records) is to intimidate people who talk to reporters. This was an accident waiting to become a nuclear event, and now it’s happened.”
Nor would it be out of character. This administration – legendary for its delicate rhetoric with regard to terrorists – has been simply iron-fisted with whistleblowers. Several Benghazi whistleblowers have said they have either feared, been threatened with or actually hit with retaliation for telling what they know. And a report says “six current and former government officials have been indicted in leak-related cases, twice the number brought under all previous administrations combined.”
The secret seizure of Associated Press phone records may be the most frightening of all the Obama scandals. It’s a transparent attempt to punish truth-tellers and to intimidate reporters and their sources into silence.
It’s alarming that the government would have the gall to seize any private phone records without notice or a specific warrant. To do so at a news-gathering agency is a manifest attempt to chill freedom of speech and the free flow of information that is vital to a self-governed people.
The authority of the people and the press to operate without undue government interference, and to be secure in our papers, homes and effects, was supposed to be established in our Bill of Rights.
Yet, as most of us know, because of the raw and often unchecked power of government, those rights can be as easily cut through as cellophane. The dance between the press and the government is a delicate one; it requires a respect on the part of government for our basic freedoms and the crucial role the press plays in securing them.
God help us if that vital balance has been forever altered. If this unmitigated assault on freedom is left unchanged, then the altering has begun.