September 19, 2011
By Robert J. Mack
You think Richard Nixon's presidency was the worst scandal ever? Well, so far, anyway.
It all started with a tape holding a door open at the Watergate complex in Washington, D.C., discovered by a 39 years ago on June 17, 1972. That discovery started a sinister chapter in America's history, fueled by the fervent investigative work of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post and ending with the president, Richard M. Nixon, exiting the in disgrace on August 9, 1974.
A similar Watergate scandal could erupt for Barack Obama. The only difference is that there may be three of them.
The insane Solyndra loan, the LightSquared cronyism, and the Operation Fast and Furious gun-running debacle have all come into America's consciousness at the same time. How could the government invest in a solar panel start-up that had no prospects for any kind of success, and to the tune of $535 million dollars? Why would a four-star Air Force general say that the White Housetried to pressure him to change his testimony before the House Armed Services Strategic Forces Subcommittee to make it more favorable to a company tied to a large Democratic donor? What were directors at the FBI, Drug Enforcement Administration, and the ATF thinking when they persuaded gun dealers to allow more than 2,000 firearms to get in the hands of drug lords in Mexico, resulting in over 200 deaths?
These are questions that demand answers. And the American people are not mesmerized enough by the star power of their president to avoid those answers and where they might lead.
Are the current body blows to the president's political stature of these humiliating events, not to mention the legal ramifications, enough to distract voters next year from returning him to the progressive throne? If Obama had provided any explorer's gold or spices to lard the treasury from the first term, then maybe all might be forgiven, assuming no laws were broken. But with Obama's poll numbers in the toilet over the economy (and the awkward question of competence in the air), Americans are ticked off. And when the populace gets mad, watch out. Royalty's crowns get removed unceremoniously when the people revolt. And, so far, Obama, the king of the progressives, has taken a "let 'em eat cake" position about the three scandals.
"What did the president know and when did he know it?" This was the famous question posed by then Senator Howard Baker during the Watergate hearings. Will this question be raised about Obama? MSNBC will continue, no matter what, to carry the president's water. But the Washington Post and ABC News have broken stories based on emails leaked to them in the Solyndra scandal, and with more hearings coming, it will be difficult to maintain radio silence on the scandals mushrooming.
We can expect underlings who will be scapegoated and have to walk the plank, as Bob Haldeman and John Erlichman did in the Watergate saga. As a matter fact, two federal officials have already been reassigned, and a third has resigned in the Operation Fast and Furious scandal. The acting director of the ATF, Kenneth Melson, has been reassigned by Eric Holder. Dennis Burke, Arizona's U.S. Attorney who approved the operation, resigned immediately, and Emory Hurley, a Phoenix U.S. Attorney's Office prosecutor involved in the operation, has been reassigned to civil cases. But will there be a John Dean who will not willingly go loyally and quietly? Will, for instance, Eric Holder resign in shame over the Fast and Furious disaster but tell all? Considering his ego, he just may be Obama's John Dean.
When hubris invades a leader's mindset, he can do no wrong. And when he can do no wrong, then all those who question his actions are questioning his authority and must be eliminated. This was the fatal flaw of Richard Nixon's presidency regarding Watergate. His paranoia about those on the left who were out to get him finally did him in. The fact that he used his power to try to destroy people's lives constituted the criminal element in the tragedy. Fortunately, we did have the Watergate hearings, and Nixon quit before there was a constitutional crisis.
Obama is no Nixon, locking himself in the White House, getting inebriated, and praying with his secretary of state -- at least not yet anyway. And right now that's a very good thing for him because he has enough to worry about with his ridiculous jobs initiative, his poll numbers, and the failed "Arab spring" turning out Islamic extremists. The smoking guns, if any, are waiting to be discovered, perhaps in the vast data archives the White House must maintain.
For a guy trying to quit smoking, Barack Obama is facing a lot of stress. Pass the Nicorette.