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Index of Past Commentaries

May 25th / 26th, 2013

"Obama and Nixon: Brothers From Another Mother"

Presidents Barack Obama and Richard Nixon Much has been said about scandals in the Obama administration, and how they are “worse than Watergate.” Whether that’s true or not, there were certainly indicators of bad behavior which both men demonstrated early on.

The fact is that Nixon and Obama might just be mirror images of each other. Both men grew up poor and powerless, yet became rich and powerful. Both men were heavily influenced by political machines and private-sector power brokers who helped them get elected. Both men professed a desire for peace, yet both escalated wars which they inherited. And both men hired arrogant attack dogs as their chiefs of staff, thus stifling constructive compromise and goodwill with Congress, and any chance of effective governance as a result.

Another eerie similarity between Nixon and Obama is their unethical treatment of political opponents who stood in their way of ascending to the national stage.

In 1950, Nixon sought to become a US senator from California. His opponent was Helen Douglas, a hardworking congresswoman and former Truman appointee to the United Nations. Having no other way to beat Douglas fair and square, Nixon accused his opponent of being a Communist. Tricky Dick even instructed his staff to distribute mudslinging, pink colored flyers as a reminder of Douglas’ supposed Bolshevik leanings. The strategy was brilliant because America was paranoid about communists. Douglas, who was NOT a communist, lost the election.

In 1996, young Barack Obama had his sights set on the Illinois state legislature. The only problem was that his district was served by the very popular and competent Alice Palmer, also an African American. Palmer was a shoo-in to retain her seat, but just before the election, her rookie challenger just happened to challenge the petitions her campaign had submitted. Back then, Illinois candidates only needed 757 signatures to get on the ballot, and Ms. Palmer had submitted over a thousand names. The Board of Elections ruled that many of the people on Palmer’s petitions printed their name, rather than signing. With no time to regroup, Palmer came up short by less than 60 names, and Obama waltzed into the state legislature by default.

Six years later Obama made a run for the US Senate, but stood no chance against heavy favorite Blair Hull. Lo and behold, just weeks before the election, the records of Hull’s divorce case were unsealed, revealing unsubstantiated charges of spousal abuse. Hull was innocent, but it didn’t matter. He withdrew, and underdog Obama stole the Senate seat, putting him in position to run for president. Speaking of which, in 2008, Obama gave his tacit approval to the DNC who arbitrarily refused to count 190 of Hillary Clinton’s delegates from Michigan and Florida, which would have put her in a dead heat for the nomination. If winning by questionable means is a gauge of who’s worse, Obama beats Nixon by a wide margin.

In their respective first terms as president, Nixon and Obama both held plenty of closed door meetings with influential supporters, but time and again, it was Nixon who ended up supporting regulations and legislation that ran contrary to the interests of those who attempted to exert their political influence. For example, he created the EPA, and signed into law Title IX, effectively making sex discrimination illegal.

Meanwhile, Obama buckled to special interests time and again, including promising Big Pharma that he would keep low-cost drugs and medical devices from entering our country. That little back-room deal placed a financial burden on millions of Americans, especially those on fixed incomes.

In his second term, President Obama has been inundated with scandals. For one, it recently came to light that his administration allowed the IRS to target conservative groups seeking tax exemptions, and did so well ahead of the 2012 election. His attorney general also allowed the Department of Justice to obtain access to private phone records of journalists from the Associated Press, who did nothing but accurately report on our government’s role in foiling a terrorist cell in Yemen. And Obama left our embassy in Libya unprotected, which resulted in the deaths of four diplomats, and charges that his administration lied about the cause of the attack.

In comparison, Nixon’s “plumbers” broke into DNC headquarters in the Watergate building in order to collect opposition research for the 1972 election. His covert unit also rifled through Daniel Ellsberg’s psychiatrist’s office trying to discredit the man who leaked classified Pentagon documents. And Nixon also had the IRS audit a few celebrities who he disliked. But while Nixon’s paranoia caused him to violate the rights of a few individuals, Obama’s transgressions appear to be systematic and widespread, so it’s not entirely inaccurate to say that the 44th president is as bad as the 37th. Maybe he’s even worse.