Every time there’s even a hint of a scandal in a Democratic administration, conservatives are quick to call it “worse than Watergate.” It’s obvious that they need a history lesson. Because, nothing…I mean nothing…has approached the abuse of power that is now known as Watergate.
For conservatives and those too young to remember the Nixon administration, Watergate was more than just a single break-in at the Democratic headquarters in the office complex known as Watergate. It was a wide-ranging criminal enterprise directed by the President of the United States and the aptly-named Creep (Committee for the Re-election of the President).
Operatives known as the plumbers committed break-ins at the homes of reporters and political enemies. They set up illegal wiretaps. Nixon ordered the IRS to audit political enemies. He ordered the plumbers to spy on Democratic candidates, to use a variety of dirty tricks to disrupt their campaigns, and to leak embarrassing information. In short, he intended to use the full power of his office to short-circuit democracy and our electoral process so that he would be re-elected in 1972.
After a Watergate security guard interrupted the plumbers break-in at the Democratic headquarters, the repercussions resonated throughout the administration and the White House. Not only did Nixon resign under threat of impeachment, more than 40 operatives spent time in prison.
No president has so abused the power of the office and, had it not been for Watergate, Nixon would more likely be remembered for committing war crimes in Vietnam, Cambodia, and Chile. The only administration that has remotely approached the corruption of Nixon’s was the George W. Bush administration.
Corruption is corruption no matter who commits it, and it should be punished whether it was committed by a liberal or a conservative.
But let’s keep things in perspective: nothing in the Obama administration has risen to the level of Watergate. Not the imagined “scandals” of Solyndra and Fast & Furious. Not Benghazi. And unless it can be determined that the IRS was acting at the direction of the White House in scrutinizing Tea Party organizations, or that anyone above the level of the Assistant Attorney General ordered the phone records of AP reporters in order to track down a serious security leak, the Obama administration should not be compared to Nixon’s…except in contrast.