IRS and AP Scandals Are No Watergate
GOP scandal-mongering doesn't make Barack Obama Richard Nixon
May 17, 2013
No. Not now, at least, and most likely not ever.
Despite truffle hunting by Republicans, to date we have not seen cabinet-level resignations or convictions of highest-level Obama administration officials as a result of felonious activities. And to date we have no indication that these things will occur.
Is the Department of Justice phone records story worth our attention? Does the Internal Revenue Service's over-attention to tea partiers warrant discussion (and historical context)? Is it important to bring clarity to the tragedy in Benghazi to protect Americans from evolving international threats? Yes, yes and yes. But bringing down a presidency? No.
Take a breath, Republicans.
Instant worst-case scenario-mongering is easy and cheap. Staccato shots on cable television and hashtag hopscotch on Twitter are lowest common denominator tactics. You are the opposition party and you must play offense – as Democrats have in the past – but opposition party tactics should befit the principles at the heart of these present-day stories.
These principles – media freedom, upholding trust in government, protecting the public interest, ensuring national security – unite us across party lines (at least, I hope).
As Republicans peer eagerly toward future elections, I ask them: will the outcomes of these "scandals" be about strengthening those core principles? Will the outcomes of these "scandals" be about advancing public policy in our changing world? Or are you deflecting from pressing issues facing Americans with partisan games?
President Obama has swiftly and forcefully outlined his steps forward with these incidents. He is holding personnel accountable, working with top officials to put new safeguards into place, and calling upon Congress to perform its oversight role as it should.
Back to Watergate. For years, a nondescript metal filing cabinet has graced the Democratic National Committee (DNC) headquarters on Capitol Hill. That cabinet was hauled over from the old DNC headquarters at the Watergate; folklore holds that it was broken into that night in June 1972. It is a tangible reminder of a crime that, once unspooled, revealed intentional, longstanding, orchestrated corruption at the highest levels and brought down a presidency.
This is not that.