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The seriousness of the charge – Thoughts on presidential scandals

By Lisa Fabrizio
web posted June 3, 2013

When I was a teenager during the presidency of Richard Nixon, with all the upheaval at home and around the globe, you'd have thought the fate of the world hinged on a two-bit burglary by third-rate political hoods at the Watergate Hotel complex. Similarly, when the Cold War was hot during the presidency of Ronald Reagan, it seemed all that mattered was the Iran-Contra affair. All three TV networks eagerly preempted regular programming for gavel-to-gavel coverage of Congressional hearings during both instances. But why?

Rush Limbaugh is fond of saying that with liberals, it's never really what the crime is, but the "seriousness of the charge" that counts. And when the GOP is in the White House, the charges are always grave. Yet with Democrats in power, even when the offenses are serious, the charges are often sloughed off as mere partisan politics. And until some sodium pentothal is injected into the American media, thus ever will it be. A few cases in point:

They say you never forget your first love: and make no mistake about it, Watergate was the first and most endearing love the American media ever had. And they played it to the hilt, using all the propaganda arms at their disposal, even making Nixon a veritable cinema monster; with any number of mumbling, unshaven actors interpreting the former president as a psychotic fiend, with the mere mention of Watergate sure to evoke menacing movie music.

And it continues into the cyber age. According to the unbiased sources at Wikipedia, "[Nixon administration] activities included "dirty tricks" such as bugging the offices of political opponents and people of whom Nixon or his officials were suspicious. Nixon and his close aides ordered harassment of activist groups and political figures, using the FBI, CIA, and the Internal Revenue Service." Repeat that sentence with Obama inserted for Nixon and you'd have a pretty clear picture of where we are today, except for one thing: such a description will never issue forth from the American press.

During the dark reign of George W. Bush—cause of all evil, natural and unnatural, in the world today—the media, eager to even the score for the Impeachment of Bill Clinton and the narrow defeat of Al Gore, went after him with everything they had; stooping low enough to forge documents in order to pin something on him. They parsed every word he ever uttered, including the infamous Mission Accomplished speech and drilled down their investigations to include his National Guard dental records. Yet the same folks now seem uninterested in the most cursory facts of Obama's past and ignore the blatant fallacy of his declarations that the War on Terror is over.

And then there's Eric Holder, the only cabinet member in U.S. history to be held in contempt of Congress. It's funny how during GOP administrations, the president is always held responsible for every single word and deed committed by his cabinet members—like Donald Rumsfeld, the blood-stained warmonger and John Ashcroft, evil incarnate. Yet, it's amazing how Democrat Attorneys General like Janet Reno and Holder are somehow treated as loose canons, running amok apparently without the knowledge of their bosses, Obama and Clinton.

And, speaking of Bill Clinton—the only sitting President to be held in contempt of court and the only elected one to be impeached—can you imagine the outcry had a Republican administration been so rife with treachery, scandal, lying, law-breaking, sexual abuse and scads of other "dirty tricks?" Similarly, how would the media have treated Obama and Eric Holder had they been conservatives? Might they actually opine that these offenses outstripped those of Iran-Contra and Watergate?

No, the press will not be issuing comparisons of Benghazi, the AP and Fox News harassments or the IRS scandal to Watergate, nor will there be any continuous network coverage of any hearings into same. But the question remains: how serious will the American people take these charges? ESR

Lisa Fabrizio is a columnist who hails from Connecticut. You may write her at mailbox@lisafab.com.




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