Donald Trump

3 Ways We're Reliving the Watergate Culture War

The second time as farce

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Pixabay

Whether or not we're reliving the Watergate investigation, we sure do seem intent on reenacting the Watergate culture war. That isn't just true of Donald Trump's critics, who are understandably eager to compare the 37th and 45th presidents. It's true of Trump and his team, who keep echoing arguments offered by Richard Nixon and his defenders four decades ago:

1. The double-standard defense. Complain about something Trump has done, and someone is bound to ask why you didn't say a peep when Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama did some other bad thing. (You will get this response even if you protested Clinton or Obama's action quite loudly.) The most prominent person to talk like this, of course, is Donald Trump himself:

But this defense is a lot older than the present president's political career. Throughout the Watergate investigation, Nixon complained angrily that his predecessors had gotten away with the very activities that were getting him in trouble. In his 2003 book Nixon's Shadow, the Rutgers historian David Greenberg lays out some examples:

"If I were a liberal," [Nixon] told [die-hard defender Baruch Korff], "Watergate would be a blip." He compiled a private catalogue of behaviors by others that he believed excused his own. On the basis of comments J. Edgar Hoover made to him, he frequently claimed, not quite accurately, that Lyndon Johnson had bugged his campaign plane in 1968. When Nixon was chided for spying on political opponents, he shot back that John and Robert Kennedy had done the same. And as precedents for his 1972 program of political sabotage, he regularly cited the pranks of Democratic operative Dick Tuck, who had hounded Nixon since his 1950 Senate race. During the Watergate Hearings, [White House Chief of Staff H.R.] Haldeman testified that "dirty tricks" maestro Donald Segretti was hired to be a "Dick Tuck for our side."

There's more—much more—but you get the idea.

American Publishing Corp.

Now, Nixon may have gotten his facts a little scrambled when it came to that alleged airplane bug, and some of the supposed precursors to his crimes didn't actually fit the bill. (He seemed convinced that Daniel Ellsberg's leak of the Pentagon Papers was comparable to the Watergate break-in—a bizarre analogy, though if you've been following the debates over Edward Snowden you've probably heard worse.) But broadly speaking, the president had a point. Many American leaders had abused their powers, sometimes in ways that resembled the Nixon scandals, and the press hadn't always been quick to trumpet the news. Like Nixon, JFK had wiretapped reporters and used the IRS as a political weapon. LBJ may not have bugged Nixon's plane in 1968, but he did spy on Goldwater in 1964. And both Kennedy and Johnson, like many others who have held their job, presided over enormous violations of dissenters' civil liberties. You can make a decent case that Nixon's misbehavior was even worse than theirs, but you can see how the man could get a little resentful about the uneven attention.

The trouble with the double-standard defense is that it isn't much of a defense. The crimes of prior presidents aren't a reason to let Nixon off the hook; they're a reason to rein in not just one abusive president but the whole imperial presidency. The same goes for any Trumpian abuses today.

2. Intimations of a "coup." Then as now, each side accused the other of plotting a coup. Rumors that Nixon was planning to seize dictatorial powers circulated not just on the political fringes but in official Washington; many of the president's foes feared that fascism was on the way. After Nixon had Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox fired, Rep. Parren Mitchell of Maryland asked, "Will democracy as we have known it survive, or will fascism come to dominate in this country?" West Virginia Sen. Robert Byrd compared the move to a "Brownshirt operation."

Meanwhile, the president's defenders tried to write off the Watergate investigation as an attempt to invalidate the election. Some of them still do: Pat Buchanan, a Nixon staffer before he became a media star, marked the 25th anniversary of the break-in with a column calling Watergate "the overthrow of an elected president by a media and political elite he had routed in a 49-state landslide the like of which America had never seen." In more suspicious moments, Nixonites sometimes suggested that some deep-state force—Korff pointed his finger at "the unknown element of the CIA"—had orchestrated Nixon's troubles. (A few figures on the radical left agreed.)

Garry Trudeau

Just as you don't have to think Nixon was a fascist to see the ways he undermined American liberties, you don't have to buy the whole Watergate-was-a-coup story to recognize that it contained at least a few grains of truth. To give the most obvious example, the most famous leaker of the Watergate era, the Washington Post source known as "Deep Throat," was eventually revealed to be Deputy FBI Director Mark Felt. He wasn't trying to overthrow the president, though—he was hoping Nixon would blame Felt's boss for the leaks and make Felt FBI director. (If he'd succeeded, that would've been a different sort of coup.)

Both the Watergate cover-up and the Watergate investigation took place against a backdrop of backroom warfare, with maneuvers so complex that even now historians can't always agree what everyone's motives were. Then as now, leakers don't always have noble motives; then as now, an ignoble motive can reveal a real story.

3. Drinking liberal tears. If you spend any time in ornery right-wing circles, you've probably heard some version of this one:

The extent of that sentiment can be overblown, but it certainly exists. And it's a Nixon rerun too.

The president bled supporters as more facts about Watergate came out. But some conservatives who'd never been particularly pro-Nixon—men who'd had harsh words for his economic and foreign policies—started warming to him once they saw the hated Eastern Establishment trying to take him down. Looking back from 2005, M. Stanton Evans recalled that he "didn't like Nixon until Watergate." The writer who best represented this tendency may be Manchester Union Leader publisher William Loeb, who once had supported the president's resignation "simply because of what we regard as Mr. Nixon's incompetence." In 1973 he reversed himself, declaring that a White House exit "would be a complete surrender to hysteria deliberately created by the communications industry, which in its most important segment is monolithic in its hatred of President Nixon."

motors23.net

It wasn't just former #NeverNixon types who stood by the president. When you look back now at Nixon's final months in office, you might get the impression that hardly anybody liked him at the end. But even when his approval rating fell below 30 percent—an abysmal place for any politician's popularity—basic math will tell you that he still had millions of fans. Many of them loved him for having the right enemies. Some held demonstrations, where the press sometimes found themselves at the receiving end of taunts like those heard at Trump rallies today. At one pro-Nixon protest organized by Korff, Greenberg recounts, "a mob circled the reporters and demanded they transcribe the rabbi's words verbatim."

By May of 1974, one New York Times reporter believed that "this ad hoc movement may be the strongest force President Nixon has going for him." Granted, that was a low bar to clear. "Most of the Presidential Cabinet," the Times' John Herber wrote,

has fallen silent about Watergate. Members of Congress who have been stanch Nixon supporters are saying little in behalf of the President in their speeches across the country. In much of the executive branch, the officials who run the Government are indifferent to Mr. Nixon's future, leaving the impression that they would not mind seeing the Presidency pass into other hands.

The grass?roots Nixon movement, however, is aggressive, highly partisan and loyal. When release of the Watergate transcripts showed President Nixon to be losing conservative support in the media, in Congress and in the Republican party because of shock at their contents, several leaders of the petition movement about the country said their donations and memberships rose sharply.

Herber added that the die-hards harbored "a uniform distrust of the national news media." ("They think we are stupid and we can't think for ourselves," one told him. "I can no longer watch the newscasts for fear of having a severe case of apoplexy," declared another.) Remember that the next time someone points to a hardcore Trump fan shouting "FAKE NEWS!" and declares that we've entered some sort of internet-induced "post-truth era." All that hand-wringing may be a mite bit overwrought.

Speaking of overwrought: Remember Trump's declaration last week that "no politician in history, and I say this with great surety, has been treated worse or more unfairly" than he? Even that was an echo—Nixon once proclaimed himself the target of "the dirtiest, most libelous, slanderous attack on the president in the history of American politics." Of course, Nixon was speaking in a private White House bull session; Trump did his venting in a speech to graduating Coast Guard cadets. You know what they say: the second time as farce.

NEXT: This Florida Prosecutor Campaigned on Reform and Fairness. Now She's Ratcheting Up the Drug War.

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  1. The trouble with the double-standard defense is that it isn’t much of a defense.

    It is if you’re a far-right, demented parrot.

    1. I don’t use the double-standard call out as a defense, but as an attack on everybody. I hate Trump. But the fact is that much of the criticism he gets is for stuff IDENTICAL to Obama and Hillary. There is absolutely a double standard and massive hypocrisy in the media. Many do use this as a defense of Trump. I do not. I think they should all be thrown in jail.

      1. See also the Tu Quoque fallacy.

        1. This is a strange response to a comment that doesn’t invoke that fallacy at all.

          1. Dano’s a troll with an IQ in single digits.
            Laugh at the piece of shit, ridicule it, point out the lies, but don’t bother with any engagement.

            1. Eh. He(?) occasionally makes decent points that suggest some cognitive faculties.

              1. “Eh. He(?) occasionally makes decent points that suggest some cognitive faculties.”

                Got any cites? I’ve yet to see anything.

              2. He(?) occasionally makes decent points that suggest some cognitive faculties.

                Citation needed.

            2. No, don’t do any of that. DanO says what it says solely for attention, and if you respond to it at all, in ANY way, it got what it wanted and feels emboldened to keep commenting.

              Seriously. It used to have a couple of other names that it posted under, but they got banned for being obnoxious. Do you know how low you have to go for the Reason site admin to ban you? They don’t even ban spambots around here!

              1. New people will often wonder why some commenter is getting shat upon with such intensity. He didn’t do anything that bad, the new person will think to themselves. These people are so mean, the new person will think. It is because the new person hasn’t been around long enough. What I have learned is that there is usually a good reason someone is catching a lot of shit, and if you stick around, you will find out why.

                1. Relatively new guy here. Seeing the commenters get infuriated at DanO is one of the reasons I keep coming back.

                  And that Ken guy is pretty frigging hilarious too.

                  The love constitution guy annoys the heck out of me though.

                  Man I love the trolls here!

                2. New people will often wonder why some commenter is getting shat upon with such intensity.

                  No, we don’t.

                  /New People

          2. It’s a suggestion for further reading, as most people here engage in fallacy after fallacy to support their hero, Puff Thuggy.

            1. Troll much?

            2. What kind of onions are best to put in potato salad? I habitually go with red, but am wondering if I should branch out.

        2. Except that Tu Quoque often isn’t a fallacy. Wikipedia says, “Tu quoque (… Latin for, “you also”) or the appeal to hypocrisy is an informal logical fallacy that intends to discredit the validity of the opponent’s logical argument by asserting the opponent’s failure to act consistently…” But this assumes that Tu quoque is being used in response to a logical argument. Consider, however, the assertion that Trump telling Comey that he hoped Comey could drop the prosecution of Flynn is “obstruction of justice”, and that this should result in impeachment (e.g., Amash). This isn’t really a logical argument, it’s just an assertion. The observation that Obama said Clinton shouldn’t be prosecuted before Comey said so is both valid and relevant to consideration of the assertion.

      2. There is something to be said for a consistent application of the law. The problem is, that’s what is actually happening. They’re all getting away with everything.

      3. Except that Obama didn’t do half this stuff, and Hillary was never elected.

        1. Which half? I just naturally assumed that I could google every single one of these and find examples from the other side in the past.

        2. Brandybuck, how about Obama’s giving $1.7B to Iran, the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism, as well as his last-minute executive order opening up confidential information on American citizens to his political hacks burrowed into government agencies. And it’s true that Hillary was never elected, due to gross stupidity and incompetence, but she was Secretary of State and participated, along with Bill and the sham Clinton Foundation, in many pay for play schemes. She also committed numerous crimes by having the illegal server, deleting emails under subpoena, and destroying government cell phones. And this list just scratches the surface of a very long history of greed, corruption, and murder that has followed the Clinton Crime Family in their rise to power. It would take a large team of special counsels a very long time to fully investigate the breadth and scope of their depravity.

        3. Try spelling out what “this stuff” is and we’ll figure out whether we agree with you. Otherwise you’re just being an asshat.

    2. Fuck off, troll.

      1. Polly want a cracker?

        1. DanO, eat shit faggoty faggot.

    3. It happens on both sides. When I made a comment about how, during my time in the national security complex, pulling HRC email antics would have landed me in federal prison for the rest of my life, I got nothing but tu quoques from very well educated liberal friends. Colin Powell did similar, etc. Hypocrisy is rampant regardless of the letter in front of your name.

  2. Perhaps the biggest similarity between Nixon and Trump is that opposition to Nixon wasn’t really about the Watergate activities itself–and impeachment talk about Trump isn’t really about Russia.

    The Impeachment of Nixon was driven by culture war stuff, but a lot of that took the form of opposition to the Vietnam War. The first resolutions introduced to impeach Nixon were drawn up before Watergate even happened–they were over Nixon’s illegal expansion of the Vietnam War with his secret bombing campaign in Cambodia.

    The opposition gave Nixon plenty of rope to hang himself with through the course of the Watergate investigations as further revelations came about–but it was more about eroding popular support.

    Trump is like that, too, in that the calls for his impeachment aren’t really about Russia. The people who want Trump impeached want to impeach him because they think he’s a misogynist for being a pussy grabbing braggadocio and they think he’s a racist because of his policies on immigration. Also, many of these people see Trump as playing to the redneck contingent, and they want him impeached just for that reason alone.

    1. Also, many of these people see Trump as playing to the redneck contingent, and they want him impeached just for that reason alone.

      I don’t think so.

      1. I do.

        This has been wonderfully illuminating. Thank you for your comment.

        1. I’d disagree with the “also” – I’d say the largest part of the Trumphobia is that he’s uncouth and crass and vulgar and unsophisticated, he’s Not Our Sort. Same with Nixon, the same sort of people who swooned over JFK (and got all tingly over Obama) loathed Nixon and loathe Trump. If you’re going to lick boots, Gucci loafers show your refined taste and sophistication, Thom McAn’s you might as well not even be licking boots at all.

          1. Nixon was far too smart to be compared to Trump. Bush Jr. would be a better comparison as a symbol of ‘deplorables’ that the coastal’s hate

            1. I see no basis for the assertion that either Trump or Bush Jr. are dumber than, say, Obama,

      2. I can’t say if Ken is right, but there is an utter fascination withThe Trump Voter within the popular press. So fascinated in fact, the Seattle times has been tracking the movements and activities of Its Only Trump Voter since November.

        Last year’s election made Seattle’s Tod Steward a minor celebrity. If by celebrity you mean “the kind that everybody hates,” he laughs.

        Not here, though. In Canada. The 53-year-old First Hill resident has found a small niche in Canada as the most peculiar, and certainly most elusive, species of our time.

        He’s Seattle’s Only Trump Voter?.

        1. That’s TDS done right.

        2. This is where Ken is right: that the calls for his impeachment aren’t really about Russia

          People are not calling for impeachment because Trump voters are icky.

          1. Probably not, but our politics has become intensely about punishing your enemies and I do think it would represent a thumb in the eyes of millions of flyover country yabbos who caused this situation.

            And of course impeachment is a way to execute a civil, bloodless coup. And unlike Clinton supporters, I’m not saying that as if it’s a bad thing.

            1. our politics has become intensely about punishing your enemies

              That’s very true, but the whiney cries for impeachment have much to do with Trump and the fears the media and Twitter dipshits project on to him, and much less to do with people who voted for him.

              1. My only evidence I can offer up that gives Ken ‘s argument some credence is the point I was trying to make with my post above. I only mean to point out that unlike previous elections, there’s a morbid fascination with the president’s voters and supporters that I don’t recall seeing in my lifetime.

                It’s one thing to focus on the president himself, but another to “send reporters into the remote burghs and villages to see and understand how ‘these people ‘ live and think”

                That’s all I’m saying. There’s an unusual focus on the trump voter as much as there is on the trump administration.

                1. I don’t deny there is TEAM hate on both side, and that could be driving this, but I think the impeachment talk is a combination of an overly sensationalist media and the dislike for Trump.

                2. I’d agree based on how liberal women are attacking verbally any woman who voted for trump and lets not forget the deplorables. anyone who voted for trump is an idiot that needs to shut down by the ruling intelectual class

                  1. My point: impeachment has nothing to do with Trump voters. That’s all.

                    1. Because I insist on getting the last word here, I’m going to type some words and hit ‘submit’.

                    2. Me too.

          2. While people may not be calling for impeachment because Trump voters are icky, there is a belief that only neo-nazi’s would elect ‘Literally Hitler’ Trump. Thus we see that those who are against Trump do in fact despise the people who elected him.

            Personally it’s hard to separate them out, because plenty of progressives do actually hate middle America and their values and are actively at war with them. It’s difficult to say if they want to impeach Trump because he represents some version of middle America, or if they hate Trump and Middle America. Both are plausible, but it’s a distinction without much of a difference in my mind.

            The upshot is that people who voted for Trump are being told that their beliefs and opinions are facist and that they should be ashamed of themselves and that the ruination of the country is all their fault, and probably the fault of their children as well. I see that going really well for the Democrats, and I’m sure those people won’t extend their middle fingers when it comes time to reelect Trump; if he hasn’t been impeached for flushing the toilet with his left hand by then, anyway.

            1. Trump voters are icky? Piss off! I will have you know I am absolutely delicious!

          3. “People are not calling for impeachment because Trump voters are icky.”

            Have you been paying attention to the news for the last six months?

            The reason Trump won was because of the knuckle dragging, white, blue-collar, middle class!

            If you’re not ashamed of being racist because you’re white, if you’re not ashamed of being an uneducated ignoramus because you’re blue collar, then, yeah, you don’t want Trump impeached.

            On the other hand, . . .

            Have you read one of Shikha’s pieces saying that Trump so obviously over-deserves impeachment that it hardly even needs qualification? Her issue is about immigration and refugees, but it’s representative of what they impeachment people want in their own way.

            The impeachment people want Trump impeached for being a pussy grabbing braggadocio, and they want to impeach him to stick it to all the knuckle dragging rednecks out there who support him for being anti-feminist.

            What do you think all this talk about the alt-right is about?

            Yes, they want to stick it to Trump (among other big reasons) because they hate, hate, hate his fans.

    2. You don’t really get what has been happening in this country. Opposition to Trump by the radical left and the colluding media is part of a long term strategy to transform the country into a socialist state, with a few well-connected and wealthy leaders. The influx of Muslim immigrants is meant not only to ensure a secure crop of Democratic voters, but also to further instill division and distrust in the populace. A divided populace is much easier to manipulate and is also a convenient mechanism to assert futher government control, all in the name of maintaining peace and civility. A colluding, left-leaning news and entertainment media, as well as early “programming” of our children’s minds in schools, are key elements of their plan. The plan was going well until Trump upset the apple cart and won the election over a totally incompetent candidate, Hillary.

    3. The biggest dissimilarity is that the DNC offices really were burglarized, while Trump’s “collusion” with Russia didn’t happen.

  3. That is one of the worst piece of clip art i have ever seen.

  4. If and when Tump’s support plummets, we can start taking the impeachment threat seriously, but as unpopular as Trump is (according to Gallup), congress and the news media are even more unpopular (according to Gallup). Until that situation reverses, don’t expect to see Trump actually removed from office. Right now, they’re just fishing for an excuse should Trump’s popularity plummet in the future.

    That’s what happened with Nixon. Once his approval rating dropped below a critical level, they came up with an excuse. The case against him for ordering the secret bombing of Cambodia was probably better than anything that happened in regards to Watergate.

    1. It’s kinda sad if that’s what it takes.

  5. Drinking liberal tears.

    Can one not not support Trump but support what he’s invoking in his enemies?

    1. Can one not not support Trump but support what he’s invoking in his enemies?

      What’s point except baiting n inciting in Trump’s America?

  6. “The trouble with the double-standard defense is that it isn’t much of a defense.”

    Defense against what, exactly?

    If Trump is saying that the charges against him are highly politicized, then the double-standard defense is pretty good. It is highly politicized. The Democrats want him out–regardless of whether he committed any crime.

    The other reason the double-standard defense might work for Trump is that there aren’t any charges against him.

    What, exactly, is he supposed to defend himself against if there aren’t any charges? If this impeachment talk is all about politics rather than any specific charges against Trump, then politicizing the charges against him makes perfect sense.

    1. They mean that, if Trump’s behavior is bad/impeachable/criminal, that’s independent of others doing similar things. You (rightly) can’t defend a murder charge by pointing to all the other humans who have committed murder.

      1. What about pointing out all the cops who get away with murder? Oh, you said humans. Never mind.

        1. If cops do it, it’s not murder.

      2. But if Joe Blow gets ticketed for 10 over and the mayor’s son gets a warning for the same, it doesn’t erase Joe Blow’s ticket but it weakens the credibility of the powers that be. If you go after Trump for what you excused in Obama, you will further solidify the notion that there are different rules for the friends of the elites. Which is how we wound up with Trump in the first place.

      3. If Trump’s argument is that this is all about politics an has nothing to do with misbehavior on his part, it’s a reasonable argument–especially since there are no charges against Trump.

      4. Nonsense. It’s a perfectly good defense against a murder charge to point out that every similar instance was not considered murder.

  7. this article is a defense of the media’s Sudden Onset Watchdog Syndrome

  8. a “Dick Tuck for our side.”

    *titters*

    1. Great, now i’ve got “Goodbye Horses” stuck in my head.

      1. It’s a great song. You’re welcome.

        1. Of course it is. Did you think i was being sarcastic when i said “Great”?

          1. Why, of course not.

  9. The extent of that sentiment can be overblown

    If anything I think it’s…underblown.*

    1. *making it much like your typical Reason commenter, and/or human male.

  10. WHYCOME NO PUZZLE OF ELLSBERG LEAK?

    Prediction: foreshadowing.

  11. Just as proggies are starting to have a new appreciation of Nixon because he:

    1. Established the EPA
    2. Established Head Start
    3. Wanted congress to pass universal health care and child care

    I heard once too from one of my profs in grad school that he thought Nixon was absolutely right to bomb Cambodia, though he protested it as a college student.

    1. It certainly brought the north Vietnamese back to the bargaining table.

    2. 4. Closed the gold window, allowing money presses worldwide to run at full speed. Fiat currency for the proggy win!

      5. Experimented with direct government control of wages and prices

      6. Was early wind/solar “magic fairy dust” convert

      Kinda a paleo Bush-style Republican. (Is there any other kind anymore?)

      1. He also went on the record to say that he thought abortion should be mandatory in cases of bi-racial babies.

      2. notJoe|5.24.17 @ 4:24PM|#
        “4. Closed the gold window, allowing money presses worldwide to run at full speed. Fiat currency for the proggy win!”

        This was largely ignored at the time; ‘who cares about gold?’. You do, because we had come to rely on the middle east for oil and they base their currency on gold. They took one look at that paper crap coming off the printing press and said: “Not on your LIFE!”
        Wonder why oil quadrupled in dollars? Compare it to gold. Not sure McGovern would have been better, but he’d have had to go a way to be THAT bad.

  12. It’s interesting that only one side is being critiqued here. I see no mention about the perverse delusions about ‘The Handmaiden’s Tale’ or ‘1984’ or the Russian conspiracy.

    Woke Minds and Intersectional Markets

      1. It’s kind of interesting to see someone engage in whataboutism in an article where whataboutism is literally the first thing addressed, isn’t it?

        1. I don’t like how anyone is using “interesting” in this thread.

          1. I’m purposely trying to normalize the use of the word interesting in the hopes that someday someone will apply it to me. Not working so far.

            1. You’re “interesting” in the sense of the old Chinese curse – “May you live in interesting times.”

          2. It’s “interesting” in the sense of the old Chinese curse – “May you live in interesting times.”

        2. What about all the articles that addressed it second?

          1. They were interesting.

  13. “1. The double-standard defense.”

    You may see some equivalence to Nixon, but double standards *are* a valid defense.
    If Trump gets his hair done by a non-union Russki and dipshits like Tony call “TREASON” as a result, it’s perfectly valid to show that, had the hag gotten her hair done by the same, she would have been honored as promoting the working wo-man.

  14. “2. Intimations of a “coup.” Then as now, each side accused the other of plotting a coup. Rumors that Nixon was planning to seize dictatorial powers circulated not just on the political fringes but in official Washington; many of the president’s foes feared that fascism was on the way.

    Great examples from the Nixon kerfuffle. How about one from now?

    1. As I recall both Bush 43 and Obama were accused by fringe groups on the other side at different points of planning to cancel elections and remain in office indefinitely.

      1. Hell, i know some folks who believed that about both of them, and will probably say the same of Trump.

  15. 3. Drinking liberal tears. If you spend any time in ornery right-wing circles, you’ve probably heard some version of this one:
    The extent of that sentiment can be overblown, but it certainly exists. And it’s a Nixon rerun too.”

    It certainly CAN be overblown; you’ve just done so.
    Have you covered the alarming similarity that both NIXON and TRUMP have five letters??????
    How about they are both MALE????
    And they both ran as RETHUGLICANS!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Jesse, was it your idea to write a non-article, or did someone suggest it to you?
    Trump and his acolytes ought to give you plenty of targets, and yet you choose to make up a fake one.

    1. Nibble that Cheeto!

      1. Clean those dingle berries of lefty bottoms.

  16. “The trouble with the double-standard defense is that it isn’t much of a defense.”

    Why not? Impeachment is a political remedy not a criminal one. Congress could theoretically remove a sitting President for any reason they want or no reason at all so long as they have the votes in the House and Senate. The public generally does not like the idea of overturning an election so anything that undercuts support for removing him probably makes sense as a strategy. Republicans who may not like Trump will find it harder NOT to rally around him if their base thinks the Obama administration got away with breaking the law (e.g. using the IRS to target conservative groups, lying to Congress about spying on US citizens, illegal payments to insurance companies, etc.) while Trump is being attacked for lawfully firing an FBI director . . . that Democrats demanded Trump fire up until he actually did it. It won’t sit well with a lot of the public and also make it more likely that other charges will be dismissed as political noise.

  17. FISA courts did not exist during the Nixon years, but rest assured if there would have been one I’m sure Nixon would have used it instead of the CIA to do his dirty work.

    This article appears to believe that nothing has changed in our intelligence or technological capacity since Nixon. Interesting considering we’re currently waging a war on United States soil, with ‘terrorism’, which has drastically and confoundingly expanded the power of the State to do things that would have been considered impeachable offenses during the Nixon years.

    And those were years were we were actually at war in Vietnam and kids were actually being drafted. So, yeah, think on that a bit before you start dismissing concerns about American Republicanism at the time. There were legitimate concerns about the use of what we now call the ‘Deep State’ even then. Recall that it was the CIA that were doing a little domestic B&E at the behest of Dick. B&E that he might not have even needed to engage if he were President today, and if he had it’s starting to look like it would be considered ‘legal’ in todays world.

    1. I wish the left would rediscover its distrust of the deep state.

      1. Considering that conservatives give it a full-throated defense as soon as they’re in office, it would indeed be nice if anyone on the left considered it a problem even when Trump is the head of it. Of course constitutional conservatives, what few of them remain, have real concerns about this apparatus post-election whereas many of them were ambivalent or defended them them before. In their weak defense, we now have examples of misuse that weren’t as obvious before if you were as willfully blind as they are.

        The reason you don’t see any concern trolling over Trump being in control of this extra-constitutional apparatus is a simple one: they don’t think it’s a bad thing for the government to record everything you say to a foreign person, they just think it’s bad when a Republican is in charge of it even though demonstrably the only evidence we have of direct misuse was under a Democrat against a Republican.

        They are working overtime to conceal the sources of most of this so-called ‘leaked’ information, most especially in that Reuter’s story that ran recently.

        In other words, the idea that we have ‘nothing to worry about, we’ve been here before’ angle of this story is contrived bullshit. Which shouldn’t shock us, given that it’s a numbered list of ‘surprising facts’.

        1. In other words, the idea that we have ‘nothing to worry about, we’ve been here before’ angle of this story is contrived bullshit.

          Might want to brush up on your reading comprehension skills, BYODB. The only place where this piece offers that angle is in reference to people who think Trump fans represent “some sort of internet-induced ‘post-truth era.'”

          Which shouldn’t shock us, given that it’s a numbered list of ‘surprising facts’.

          Literally none of the numbered items are “surprising facts.”

          1. As far as your earlier comments go, I have no idea why you felt the need to remind me that “there were legitimate concerns about the use of what we now call the ‘Deep State’ even then,” given that the post already cites several good reasons for people to have been concerned about it. Nor do I know why you would think this post “appears to believe that nothing has changed in our intelligence or technological capacity since Nixon.”


          2. “Herber added that the die-hards harbored “a uniform distrust of the national news media.” (“They think we are stupid and we can’t think for ourselves,” one told him. “I can no longer watch the newscasts for fear of having a severe case of apoplexy,” declared another.) Remember that the next time someone points to a hardcore Trump fan shouting “FAKE NEWS!” and declares that we’ve entered some sort of internet-induced “post-truth era.” All that hand-wringing may be a mite bit overwrought.

            This was indeed the exact section of the article I was referring to. I interpreted that portion as meaning ‘don’t worry, we’ve been here before and survived’ and along with the articles title of ‘reliving’ something it does seem to imply that the same thing is happening now, which implies we’ll come out of it just fine like we did the Nixon years. I say it’s wholly different because of who did what, and how. Unless you’re saying that your own article contradicts itself.

            “The crimes of prior presidents aren’t a reason to let Nixon off the hook; they’re a reason to rein in not just one abusive president but the whole imperial presidency. The same goes for any Trumpian abuses today.”

            So, it was Trump who used FISA courts to leak information about himself? Do tell. Not that I disagree with your solution of course.

    2. Good points.

    3. The Plumbers were not CIA.

  18. 1. The double-standard defense. Complain about something Trump has done, and someone is bound to ask why you didn’t say a peep when Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama did some other bad thing

    Not really seeing this at all–but I know what you’re mistaking for it.

    People are saying “Trump didn’t do anything like that–Hillary/Obama/ every Democrat ever does/did/is doing that and no one is saying a word”

    See? You need for Trump to have actually committed one of the crimes Democrats and leftists commit with abandon for there to be a ‘double’ standard. As it is, it’s simply business as usual–Democrats hurling accusations at people for the crimes they are committing and the media shrieking about double standards when anyone points out that only one person/group/side is actually committing crimes.

    Con’t

    1. Con’t

      I’m sorry, but we’ve already filled the position of Ken Schultz.

      1. Did you misspell his name for copyright reasons?

    2. 2. Intimations of a “coup.” Then as now, each side accused the other of plotting a coup

      And here’s a good example–one side has openly stated that they want a coup, that they want Trump, Pence and every GOP person in line out of the way. They’re quite open about this–some have even intimated that they think Hillary gets to be president if they can get rid of Trump.

      The ‘other side’ has simply noticed and repeated these statements–to be loudly accused of jumping to conclusions.

      3. Drinking liberal tears. If you spend any time in ornery right-wing circles, you’ve probably heard some version of this one:

      Fmr Kasich Supporter: Hostile Media Makes Me Support Trump

      There comes a point when even the most recalcitrant say–‘jesus Christ–they’re not even bothering to pretend they’re not lies anymore. They just spit out whatever they think sounds like it might do something to him’

      Here’s the thing, Jesse, Nixon won 49 states before Watergate. There WAS no #NeverNixon movement anywhere except in the minds of people desperate to keep their analogies afloat 47 years after the fact.

      This is nothing like Nixon because Trump did nothing wrong. There is no crime. There is no case. There is nothing to investigate, no justice to obstruct. Trump did nothing wrong.

      1. Can you repeat your contention again? Think I missed it…

        1. Can you repeat your contention again? Think I missed it…

          Just for you–

          Trump did nothing wrong.

      2. There WAS no #NeverNixon movement anywhere except in the minds of people desperate to keep their analogies afloat 47 years after the fact.

        The word “#NeverNixon” was a joke (obviously), but anti-Nixon conservatives were very much a thing. One of them got a million votes running a third-party campaign in ’72. Others held their noses and voted R because they preferred Nixon to McGovern, but you can be sure they weren’t happy about China or price controls.

        1. “…anti-Nixon conservatives were very much a thing. One of them got a million votes running a third-party campaign in ’72. Others held their noses and voted R because they preferred Nixon to McGovern, but you can be sure they weren’t happy about China or price controls.”

          Yes and anti-Nixon YAFers were a thing too, but that leaves us shy of any Trump equivalency, unless you’re proposing a *future* anti-Trump conservative ‘thing’.

        2. Yes, Jesse, #NeverNixon conservatives were a thing–in the sense that they existed.

          So do two-headed calves–but no one is worried about getting trampled by a stampede of them.

          Nixon won 49 states, Jesse–that’s a whole lot of ‘nose holding’–but it’s okay, you clearly got your opinions of this time from leftist bubbles. Nixon faced nothing like Trump faced.

          There wasn’t a whole lot of nose holding in 72. There were CLAIMS that noses were held After Watergate, but 49 states tells a VERY different story.

          Everyone’s your friend when you’re on top–no one was ever your friend if you fall.

          1. you clearly got your opinions of this time from leftist bubbles

            I got it largely from reading original sources from the time, most of them right-wing.

    3. Whether or not we’re reliving the Watergate investigation, we sure do seem intent on reenacting the Watergate culture war.

      Whether or not we’re reliving the Watergate investigation

      Whether or not

      1. Whether or not we’re reliving the Watergate investigation, we sure do seem intent on reenacting the Watergate culture war.

        Many people seem to have missed those words, even though they’re the first sentence of the post. Hence all the comments here focused on whether we’re reliving the Watergate investigation, the very topic I tabled at the top.

        1. “Many people seem to have missed those words, even though they’re the first sentence of the post. Hence all the comments here focused on whether we’re reliving the Watergate investigation, the very topic I tabled at the top.”

          Oh, my, look there:
          The facts of any sort of comparison are irrelevant to Jesse’s perception of the perception of the issues!
          A meta-study of the studies of….
          Jesse, did you choose to write this, or did someone tell you to?

          1. The facts of any sort of comparison are irrelevant to Jesse’s perception of the perception of the issues!

            I’m not sure what this is supposed to mean?I’m not sure what most of your comments in this thread are supposed to mean?but it certainly doesn’t bear any relation to what I wrote.

        2. Ah, so answering the points you listed as parts of that culture war is ‘focusing on the topic you tabled’?

          Disingenuous much?

          1. Ah, so answering the points you listed as parts of that culture war is ‘focusing on the topic you tabled’?

            If the “answer” involves changing the subject to the topic I tabled, then yes it is.

            I mean, feel free to discuss all that stuff. It’s a comment thread; you can take the conversation in virtually any direction you want. But don’t mistake it for the topic I was talking about.

  19. What’s up with all the Republicans libertarians defending Nixon and Trump?

    1. What’s with all the trolls like yourself trying to saying something intelligent.

  20. Brilliant! Thanks Jesse. One quote might have been miscopied: “the overthrow of an elected president Fuehrer by a media and political elite he had routed in a 49-state landslide the like of which America had never seen.” Also, in response to the Nixon’s Still the One blimps we had the felling of Bonanza by the Smothers Brothers and their musical response: “We’re still here!” (Puzzled commentariat? Goldie Hawn sez to look it up in your Funk & Wagnall’s)

    1. Hank, I have a suggestion: STFU.
      Nothing you have posted has made you look like someone with something to say.

  21. Similarity #4

    Both Nixon and Trump are targets because they had the gall to defeat a fantastically inappropriate Democrat nominee. McGovenr wasn’t as bad as Hillary, but he appealed to almost esclusively to the far left, just as Shrillary appealed almost exclusively to the Democrat party establishment. In both cases, the Democrats wildly overestimated how many people would go along with their ‘perfect candidate’ simply because said candidate was’t Nixon/Trump.

    1. This is comparison of Nixon to Trump is ridiculous and is clearly the left still being butthurt about their fantastically inappropriate Democrat nominee losing to Trump.

      Not sure why so many people here are letting the media get away with a Nixon-Trump comparison.

      I know the Reason staff gets lazy and prints stuff to keep their invitations to cosmo parties coming in, but Libertarians allowing it?

      1. Christ, you people are dumb.

        1. Compared to you?
          It is to laugh.

          1. Summarize Walker’s argument. Please. Pass the Walker Turing test. Prove that you understand what Walker is saying here.

            1. Unlabelable MJGreen|5.25.17 @ 12:39AM|#
              “Summarize Walker’s argument. Please. Pass the Walker Turing test. Prove that you understand what Walker is saying here.”

              If you have a problem with someone’s argument, address them. So far, you’ve tossed random, imbecilic. comments here and there.
              Did your mommy say your were smart? She lied.

              1. Can’t do it, huh? Can’t demonstrate that you understand Walker’s argument. Which is sad, because all it takes is reading the headline, which used to be the bare minimum before people started whining in the comments. Sad!

        2. Because I question the media and left’s attempt to compare Nixon and Trump?

          That is funny coming from people who don’t actually know anything about Nixon and are inflicted with TDS.

          1. He. Did not. Compare. Nixon. To. Trump. He is comparing the culture war surrounding their presidencies. As indicated in the headline, the first sentence, and every sentence after.

            It’s very, very simple.

  22. So not much has changed in politics in the last 50 years then. I’m sure it goes back further than tricky dick.

  23. I guess I’ll always have a warm place in my heart for Nixon because he GTFO of Viet Nam and ended the draft the year I turned 18. If LBJ hadn’t bailed and had passed the torch to one of his stooges, we’d probably still be burnin’ huts and dropping napalm. And I’d be living in the Great White North under the repressive regime of Prime Minister Zoolander. God bless tricky dick and God bless America.

    1. ended the draft

      Teens still have to register, so…

      https://www.sss.gov/Home/Registration

      1. Ended the draft, shitstain.

      2. Nixon ended the draft but selective service still remains in case there ever is a draft needed.

  24. Man is a tribal animal. Consider yourself fortunate that you haven’t been eaten by your neighbor. You can still witness unadulterated man in certain cultures and make no mistake about it, the instinct that guides those primitive cultures that leads to mobs burning people alive is at play when our laws are drafted. If an alien race ever discovers humanity they would be wise to destroy every fucking one of us.

    1. You first.

    2. The other thing more puerile and inane than tribalism is misanthropy.

  25. I think it would be best to impeach *all* Presidents after about 6 months, with the flimsiest excuses possible (the flimsier, the better). I will never oppose any action which hobbles the Presidency, or any President. There is no lesser evil.

    1. After we roll back much of the government and welfare programs.

  26. I’ll tell you where the Nixon comparison and double standard really applies:

    If you simply go by their public statements and open bragging about it, the Obama administration and Clinton campaign both wildly exceeded anything that Nixon did in regards to Watergate.

    Remember: Watergate was about breaking in to the DNC headquarters to spy on the party’s plans for the election.

    Nixon was not involved until after the fact when he was part of the attempted coverup.

    So let’s play “tu quoc”. Obama administration officials have been bragging for months that they systematically planted classified information around the government to be released after the inauguration with the intention of bringing down their successor. This is not WND conspiracy theory stuff, this is glowingly reported in the New York Times. The classified information in question? Stuff gleaned from wiretaps of Trump campaign officials and advisers. More sophisticated than Nixon, no doubt. But the net result is actually quite a bit worse than Nixon from a constitutional crisis point of view. Except everyone is pretending that they didn’t hear what they heard when Team Obama bragged that they’d leaked classified info for the expressed purpose of sabotaging the duly elected president of the United States.

    1. What of Hillary? We learned from the leaked emails and DNC documents that the DNC fixed the primary for Hillary, colluding with Hillary’s campaign manager and major media outlets in the process. No question that this is a more dire threat to the democratic process than cross-party spying.

      Another big feature of the Watergate scandal was Nixon’s use of the federal bureaucracy to go after his enemies. Particularly the IRS. Who in recent memory used the IRS to target his political foes? Hmmm…. hard to say. Since all the computers mysteriously and simultaneously had hard drive failures. Still, the parallels are pretty exact, even if you’d prefer to ignore them.

      And then there’s the anti-war thread… Nixon illegally expanding the war into Cambodia. How exactly does Obama’s actions in Libya stack up against that? Nixon was bombing the same people we were at war with in Viet Nam, they were just hiding across the border. How the heck is Qaddafi related in any way to the war against Al Qaeda, Afghanistan or Iraq? The drone bombings of suspected terrorists in at least a half-dozen countries without any congressional approval or even oversight are a pretty direct parallel.

      So the folks blubbering “but, but, look what they did” have something of a point if you are going to run around making Nixon comparisons. Trump hasn’t even had the reins long enough to pull a Nixon.

  27. Jesse Walker|5.24.17 @ 11:05PM|#
    “Many people seem to have missed those words, even though they’re the first sentence of the post. Hence all the comments here focused on whether we’re reliving the Watergate investigation, the very topic I tabled at the top.”

    Jesse, I got a pro tip:
    Your claim to examine the ‘culture wars’ presumes you and everyone you address understands some ‘culture’ in the same way and that we should all ignore the facts leading to that ‘culture’ in the case of Nixon and Trump. IOWs, you strive to divorce relevant facts from some presumed ‘culture’.
    The tip is this: Your presumption is wrong.
    My understanding of Nixon’s actions and the ‘culture’ resulting from that is drastically different than the same regarding Trump; facts matter.

  28. The trouble with the double-standard defense is that it isn’t much of a defense. The crimes of prior presidents aren’t a reason to let [whoever] off the hook

    Actually, our legal system and our legal understanding often work that way. For example, you acquire easements by prior use or prescription. We also have desuetude, the implicit invalidation of laws that aren’t enforced, as well as a prohibition against selective enforcement.

  29. “Sale of wild horses for slaughter proposed in Trump budget”
    […]
    “They say the Trump administration is kowtowing to livestock interests…”
    http://www.cbsnews.com/news/sa…..mp-budget/

    As opposed to feel-good busy-bodies.
    They want to keep the horses out of slaughter houses? Fine. Buy ’em and keep ’em with YOUR money.

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