There’s an old adage in the public relations trade that if you’re on the defensive, you’re losing the PR battle. And so it is rather delicious to watch Obama’s defenders on the left furiously spinning that no, no—no way is any of this like Nixon! Scott already took down Steve Chapman’s “false equivalence” column; the Washington Post editorial board—and who is more authoritative on Watergate than them??—thinks the comparison risible. But the sober Carl Cannon finds the demurrals unconvincing and thinks the comparison fits, while Al Hunt, my museum-grade exhibit for the mediocrity of modern journalism, says Obama is “no better than Nixon” and that John Mitchell must be smirking somewhere about Eric Holder.
You can spell all this shorter: Fail!
But Bill Kristol ironically joins in the Obama-Nixon deniers by noting that indeed Obama isn’t Nixon because. . . Nixon was a far superior person and president:
I protest. Will no one stand up for Richard Nixon? Richard Nixon was a combat veteran, a staunch and brave anti-Communist, a man who took on the liberal establishment and at times his own party’s as well, a leader who often thought for himself and had the courage of his convictions, a president who assembled a first-rate Cabinet and one who—while flawed both in character and in policy judgment—usually tried to confront the real problems and deal with challenges of his times. Richard Nixon led neither the country nor his own administration from behind.
Hear, hear! Of course, as my old mentor M. Stanton Evans liked to say, a true conservative is someone who didn’t support Nixon until after Watergate. Or, as he claimed at the time, he called the White House in 1973 to say, “Gosh, if I’d known you guys were doing all of this neat stuff I wouldn’t have been so hard on you.” Stan was among the conservatives who broke publicly with Nixon in 1971, saying at the time, “There’s only two things I don’t like about the Nixon administration—its domestic policy, and its foreign policy.”
But this raises a point: Prior to these scandals, unlike conservatives under Nixon, hardly anyone on the left raised his voice in opposition to things like drone warfare and Gitmo that had them marching in the streets under Bush. Because power is more important than principle. If Obama’s support from the left really does begin to break seriously, it will be because he threatens to take down the left’s hold on political power.