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VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Rethinking Watergate.

For liberals in 1973, the status quo was considered right-wing and dangerous—and it was therefore to be opposed at all costs to find the truth about Nixon. In 2016, Clinton was part of a status quo that extended eight years back through Barack Obama’s tenure and was considered the favored candidate by the permanent bureaucracy, the mainstream media, and the legal establishment, many of whom sought to help her defeat Trump.

Think about changing the roles in 2016. Imagine a Trump-funded anti-Clinton dossier drawing on Russian gossip about Secretary Clinton, peddled by the FBI, rubber-stamped by FISA courts, and used to monitor Clinton campaign operatives to find dirt on Clinton and to leak such information to the press—in the last days of a presidential campaign. Would we not then see a true progressive reenactment of Watergate, with all of the concerned parties repeating their 1973 roles—the press especially frenzied rather than somnolent?

FISA-gate is not just an upside-down Watergate. It also forces us to rethink Watergate itself. The facts, of course, that led to Nixon’s 1974 resignation are unchanged and condemnatory. But the relative eagerness to uncover them can be recalibrated by the contrast with FISA-gate.

In other words, was it really principle and concern for the transparent and blind administration of justice that drove the original and necessary official and media investigation of Nixon? Or, in some measure, did the furor over Nixon arise over his seemingly odious politics and person that for decades had enraged his enemies?

FISA-gate, and the media’s response to it, is not so much another Watergate as an anti-Watergate. The disconnect with the past begs us to redefine the story of Watergate itself 45 years later: Was it what Richard Nixon did, or who Richard Nixon was, that ignited the scandal?

The answer to that question can be found at Commentary, where Andrew Ferguson explores The Post, the new bookend to Redford and Hoffman’s All the President’s Men, in an essay titled “Mr. Spielberg Goes to Washington:”

Capra intended his movie to be a hymn to those ideals, and for nearly 80 years that’s what audiences have taken it to be. It is no such thing. Mr. Smith seethes with contempt for the raw materials of democracy: debate, quid pro quo deal-making, back-scratching compromise—all the tedious, unsightly mechanics that turn democratic ideals into functioning self-government. In Capra’s telling, democracy can be rescued only by anti-democratic means. An appointed charismatic savior (he’s not even elected!) uses a filibuster (favorite parliamentary trick of bullies and autocrats) to release the volatile pressure of a disenfranchised mob (the great fear of every democratic theorist since Aristotle). From Mr. Smith to Legally Blonde 2, the point of the Washington movie is clear: Left to its own devices, without an outside agent to penetrate it and cleanse it of its sins, self-government sinks into corruption and despotism.

Steven Spielberg is the closest thing we have to Capra’s successor. Like all his movies, The Post has many charms: a running visual joke about Bradlee’s daughter making a killing with her lemonade stand threads in and out of the heavier moments like a rope light. On the other hand, his painstaking obsession with period detail often fails: A hippie demonstration against the Vietnam War looks as if it’s been staged by the cast of Hair. The set-piece speeches are insufferable, an icky glue of sanctimony and sentimentality. What we call the Pentagon Papers was a classified history of the lies, misjudgments, and incompetence of four presidents, from Harry Truman to Lyndon Johnson, ending in 1968. Sometimes the speechifying is directed at the malfeasance of these men, as when Bradlee bellows: “The way they lied—those days have to be over!”

Weirdly, though, the full force of the movie’s indignation is aimed at Richard Nixon.

Which seems odd, considering the strange new respect the man has gotten from the left in recent years.

I’M EXPECTING AN EARTH-SHATTERING KABOOM: Justice Dept. to Weigh Inquiry Into Clinton Foundation.

The department, in a letter sent to the House Judiciary Committee, said the prosecutors would examine allegations that donations to the Clinton Foundation were tied to a 2010 decision by the Obama administration to allow a Russian nuclear agency to buy Uranium One, a company that owned access to uranium in the United States, and other issues.

The letter appeared to be a direct response to Mr. Trump’s statement on Nov. 3, when he said he was disappointed with his beleaguered attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and that longstanding unproven allegations about the Clintons and the Obama administration should be investigated.

Any such investigation would raise questions about the independence of federal investigations under Mr. Trump. Since Watergate, the Justice Department has largely operated independently of political influence on cases related to the president’s opponents.

That’s rich.

OBAMA’S WATERGATE: Six months later, CNN confirms what was widely reported — and ignored on the left — last March. “Vladimir Putin did not hack the election. Barack Obama did. . . . The all-smoke-no-fire Russia investigation looks increasingly like a smoke screen aimed to put out a very different fire. Rather than an investigation into malfeasance by the Trump campaign, does the Robert Mueller inquiry serve as a clean-up operation to justify Obama administration malfeasance? The bugging of the opposition party’s presidential campaign, at least when done by Republicans, ranks not only as criminal but as the biggest political scandal in American history. . . . The Obama administration using the considerable powers of the federal government to spy on a hated critic’s campaign sets a dangerous precedent. It provides future administrations a means to infiltrate the innermost circle of the opposition party’s presidential campaign. This merely requires the pretext of wrongdoing to engage in wrongdoing.”

RUSH LIMBAUGH ON THE WIRETAP NEWS: “This is much worse than Watergate, folks. That was a third-rate burglary that went awry.” “Trump was called a liar. He was mocked for tweeting about Trump Tower being wiretapped. David Gergen, you’ll hear on the sound bites today, practically chokes when confronted with the news that Trump was right and doesn’t quite know what to say about it. But, I tell you what, folks, in many ways it’s worse than Watergate, and it’s still going on even with Trump in the White House. Richard Nixon was accused of spying on the DNC, but Nixon never ordered any such spying. In fact, he didn’t know anything about it. He was accused of using the IRS against his political opponents, but he never did. We know for a fact that Obama did both of these things, used the IRS against political opponents and probably more. There’s no outrage in the media on this. They think it’s great that Manafort’s lock was picked. The New York Times reports this as though it’s something that happens every day. Yep, the FBI showed up, they picked the lock of Manafort’s front door in Virginia and walked in and woke him up along with his family and then started demanding things and taking things….”

FIGHT THE CORRUPTION! Jaclyn Cashman: Trump should muzzle million $$ speaker fees.

President George W. Bush signed sweeping lobbying legislation to cut down on corruption in 2007 with the “Honest Leadership and Open Government Act.”

The law forced ex-senators and top executive branch officials to wait two years before they could lobby Congress after their Capitol Hill jobs ended. Former Representatives had to wait only one year.

At the time, rising star Barack Obama, then a U.S. Senator, called it “the most sweeping ethics reform since Watergate.”

Trump should simply make an amendment to that rule and address the issue of huge speaking fees.

Doesn’t it seem a bit cozy that Obama is making more than most people make in a year during all these speeches to the finance sector? A little distance between the Oval Office and Wall Street could further put Americans at ease that the commander in chief and top staffers care more about Main Street than landing gigs once they depart.

How do we know that decisions made on the way out didn’t benefit the companies now cutting checks to top officials for doing little work in return?

Even Massachusetts U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren called Obama’s first paid speech troubling.

During the presidential election, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders criticized Hillary Clinton’s bank account filled with six-figure checks from Wall Street.

It would appear Trump could get bipartisan support on such a law.

It would be super-amusing.

TOM SHATTUCK: Brace for Impact, Swamp!

All righty then. Looks like we may have a big problem. Remember in March when President Trump tweeted this shocking item? “Terrible! Just found out that Obama had my ‘wires tapped’ in Trump Tower just before the victory. Nothing found. This is McCarthyism!”

And, “How low has President Obama gone to tapp my phones during the very sacred election process. This is Nixon/Watergate. Bad (or sick) guy!.”

Heads exploded.

Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey scowled, “Donald Trump should just do the right thing and apologize to Barack Obama, there is no evidence … it is absolutely not true.”

Sen. Liz Warren was right there to shout down the president, saying, “I just think it’s becoming clearer every day that President Trump is failing and he knows it, and that’s what these wild allegations are about.”

Not surprisingly, President Obama’s grenadiers in the media enthusiastically joined the charge.

While ABC’s Martha Raddatz excoriated Sarah Huckabee Sanders, Mika Brzezinski griped, “What the hell … This White House is a joke.”

More recently Jake Tapper called Trump’s allegation “fiction,” snorting, “There is no evidence that Donald Trump was wiretapped by Barack Obama, it was and continues to be a lie.”

Not so fast, Jake.

Last night, Tapper’s colleagues at CNN broke blockbuster news: “US investigators wiretapped former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort under secret court orders before and after the election.”

Manafort has a residence in Trump Tower.

According to CNN, “The government snooping continued into early this year, including a period when Manafort was known to talk to President Donald Trump.”

It’s funny how many statements that got the It’s monstrous to even suggest that! treatment not long ago are now turning out to be true. . . .

OF NARRATIVES PAST AND PRESENT: In the new issue of Commentary, Andrew Ferguson profiles veteran DC journalist Elizabeth Drew, whom he describes as “Washington’s Keeper of the Narratives.”

Every administration gets suited up with the Divided White House Narrative at some point; Donald Trump’s is just the latest to succumb, and Ronald Reagan’s never outgrew it. The Pentagon Papers Narrative is also ongoing, most recently with Julian Assange as the hero, until he broke the narrative flow and became a bad guy, not at all like that brave Daniel Ellsberg. Bill Clinton’s White House was fit into the Tragic Presidency Narrative originally applied to the administration of Lyndon Johnson. Bill Clinton—able, smart, stuffed with charm, oozing political savvy—was shown lifting the country from the HWBushian darkness into the light of Democratic peace and prosperity even as he was brought low by his own personal Vietnam, who was wearing a thong.

More than once Barack Obama was draped in the Cuban Missile Crisis Narrative. His iciness was undeniable, though how canny he was remains an open question. But his far-seeing aide, John Kerry, was a Kennedy wannabe from Massachusetts, and when the time came to stare down the nuke-craving mullahs and call their bluff, Obama rose to the narrative by striking the Iran nuclear deal, thereby saving the world from cataclysm. It says so right here in the narrative.

Drew is handy with all these narratives, able to keep one spinning on the tip of a pool cue even as she balances another on her forehead while lifting a third with her big toe. As Keeper of the Narratives, though, she has particular responsibility for the crown jewel. Drew covered the Watergate scandal in weekly dispatches for the New Yorker and has been closely associated with it ever since. She even appears in the movie adaptation of All the President’s Men, which, although admittedly fictionalized and largely debunked, is to Washington narratives what the epic of Gilgamesh is to quest literature.

Drew’s Watergate articles became a book, called Washington Journal. I reread it the other day. It is droll, knowing, discursive, full of flavorsome detail, a worthy and appealing work of higher journalism. It is also animated by a subcutaneous vein of hysteria. Actually, it’s hysteria and delight all mixed together, for in Washington the two are always commingling. We Washingtonians are an excitable people. We feed off crises, draw strength from the Republic’s misfortune. I recall a remark from Ben Bradlee, editor of the Washington Post (yeah, he was legendary, too), during the Iran-Contra scandal of the late 1980s. The official position of the Washington establishment was that Iran-Contra, like Watergate before it, was a grave threat to the Constitution, indeed to the existence of self-government. No laughing matter, in other words. And yet: “I haven’t had so much fun since Watergate,” Bradlee said. That’s the emotional life of the capital, indiscreetly expressed.

And Drew is its truest representative.

In the middle of a fascinating hour-long interview with Peter Robson on Uncommon Knowledge, Scott Adams of Dilbert fame and the author of How to Fail at Almost Everything and Still Win Big and the upcoming Win Bigly, charts the path of the current narrative arc:

Peter Robinson: How … You did … I found this quotation, because I thought to myself, “I’ve got him.” Let’s see if I have got you. “Trump’s value proposition is … this is you on your blog. Quote, “Trump’s value proposition is that he will ‘Make America Great.’ That concept sounds appealing to me. The nation needs good brand management.” Whatever else is going on, issue, by issue, by issue, you look at this guy and say, “You know, he’s my guy.”

Scott Adams: Well, I’m not saying I’d say, “My guy.” I say that he has a set of skills, which are extraordinary, and the thing I was most interested in was that the country could see it clearly without the filter put on it by the opposition because they’re both painting each other terribly. In Hillary Clinton’s situation, people know what a standard politician is. They could see through the attacks on the other side. We knew what we were getting, but with Trump, people didn’t know what they were getting. At least half the country thought he was crazy Hitler. I had actually predicted, I guess before he was inaugurated, that you would see the following story arc develop because it just was obvious if you’re trained in persuasion, it was going to go this way. It would start with, “Oh my God, we’ve accidentally elected Hitler, like how did this happen? How did half the country or so not know that we’ve elected a monster?” I figured, okay, after a few months of not doing Hitler stuff, it’s just going to dissipate, and it has. By summer, I said the Hitler thing will dissipate, and it did, but it would be replaced with “But, he’s incompetent. He’s incompetent. He’s incompetent”. Sure enough, that was the big word of the summer up until now. I didn’t see the Russia thing coming because that, that’s hard to predict, but I’ve predicted that after the “He’s incompetent” phase will come the, “Well, he did get a lot done, but we don’t all like that. He did things we don’t like, but he was awfully effective and he did do the things he said he was going to do. We just don’t like those things.” You’re going to see that by year end, and in fact you’re already seeing the turn.

Peter Robinson: Yes.

Scott Adams: It’s visible now. You can see the turn happening.


At times during his conversation with Robinson, Adams’ takes are awfully out there; as Kathy Shaidle wrote last year, “You Don’t Have to Be Crazy to Be Scott Adams, But It Helps,” though perhaps that’s what makes it such an interesting interview. Or maybe it’s Adams’ claim to Robinson that “I have a background as a hypnotist, I’m a trained hypnotist” at work…

FLASHBACK: If Donald Trump Targets Journalists, Thank Obama.

If Donald J. Trump decides as president to throw a whistle-blower in jail for trying to talk to a reporter, or gets the F.B.I. to spy on a journalist, he will have one man to thank for bequeathing him such expansive power: Barack Obama. . . .

Criticism of Mr. Obama’s stance on press freedom, government transparency and secrecy is hotly disputed by the White House, but many journalism groups say the record is clear. Over the past eight years, the administration has prosecuted nine cases involving whistle-blowers and leakers, compared with only three by all previous administrations combined. It has repeatedly used the Espionage Act, a relic of World War I-era red-baiting, not to prosecute spies but to go after government officials who talked to journalists.

Under Mr. Obama, the Justice Department and the F.B.I. have spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records, labeled one journalist an unindicted co-conspirator in a criminal case for simply doing reporting and issued subpoenas to other reporters to try to force them to reveal their sources and testify in criminal cases. . . .

In a scathing 2013 report for the Committee to Protect Journalists, Leonard Downie, a former executive editor of The Washington Post who now teaches at Arizona State University, said the war on leaks and other efforts to control information was “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration, when I was one of the editors involved in The Washington Post’s investigation of Watergate.”

When Mr. Obama was elected in 2008, press freedom groups had high expectations for the former constitutional law professor, particularly after the press had suffered through eight years of bitter confrontation with the Bush administration. But today, many of those same groups say Mr. Obama’s record of going after both journalists and their sources has set a dangerous precedent that Mr. Trump can easily exploit.

The irresponsibility of the leakers provides him more opportunities. It’s clear that they’re not leaking to expose wrongdoing, but to engage in political warfare.

WHOA – CNN TURNED OBJECTIVIST SO SLOWLY, I HARDLY EVEN NOTICED! Journalist Carl Bernstein Declares ‘Cold Civil War’ In America:

On Sunday, appearing on CNN’s Reliable Sources, Carl Bernstein, who along with Robert Woodward, broke the story of Watergate for The Washington Post,  claimed, “We are in the midst of a cold civil war in this country.”

Bernstein, who along with Woodward relied on anonymous sources to discover information related to the Watergate break-in, made his comment about a “cold civil war” to distinguish the era of Watergate from the current political climate.

I wonder if Bernstein thinks he invented that phrase – when perhaps its very first use was by Ayn Rand in a 1962 column with that same title, back when she was giving speeches and proposing book titles railing against JFK’s “Fascist New Frontier.”

(She lost her long-suffering editor, the famous Bennett Cerf, a What’s My Line panelist, over that title – but she may have been more right than she knew.)

Hit the “Continue reading” link for a lengthy look at the “Cold Civil War” phrase in the 21st century and some background on Carl Bernstein’s radical past.

Continue reading ‘WHOA – CNN TURNED OBJECTIVIST SO SLOWLY, I HARDLY EVEN NOTICED! Journalist Carl Bernstein Declares…’ »

NEXT UP: A special counsel to probe Team Obama’s obstruction of justice.

Specifically, the Senate Judiciary Committee announced last week it will hold hearings to “examine then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s involvement in the Clinton email server investigation.”

The findings of the powerful panel, which has oversight of the Justice Department and FBI, could lead to a separate criminal investigation and the naming of another special counsel — exactly what Trump needs to distract attention from his growing legal woes.

What Lynch did reeks of obstruction. According to Comey, his ex-boss:

• Ordered him to mislead the public about the criminal investigation of Clinton by calling it a “matter” rather than an investigation. (He complied with her wish, even though it made him feel “queasy.”)

• Refused to recuse herself from the case after Comey confronted her about a secret June 2016 meeting she had with former President Bill Clinton — five days before his wife was scheduled to be interviewed by the FBI. (Hillary was cleared three days later.)

There are also concerns, raised by a New York Times report, that Lynch privately assured the Clinton campaign she would keep FBI agents in check and wouldn’t let their investigation “go too far,” according to a message the FBI intercepted involving then-Democratic National Committee Chairwoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz.

Carl Bernstein said, “The great thing about Watergate is, is that the system worked. The American system worked. The press did its job. We did what we were supposed to do.”

Where is that spirit today?

(Hat tip, Glenn Reynolds, checking in ever-so-briefly from his secure and undisclosed location.)

THE HILL: Four members of Mueller’s team have donated to Democrats.

Four members of special counsel Robert Mueller’s team on the Russia probe have donated to Democratic presidential campaigns and organizations, according to Federal Election Commission filings.

Michael Dreeben, who serves as the Justice Department’s deputy solicitor general, is working on a part-time basis for Mueller, The Washington Post reported Friday.

Dreeben donated $1,000 dollars to Hillary Clinton’s Senate political action committee (PAC), Friends of Hillary, while she ran for public office in New York. Dreeben did so while he served as the deputy solicitor general at the Justice Department.

Jeannie Rhee, another member of Mueller’s team, donated $5,400 to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign PAC Hillary for America.

The political affiliations of Mueller’s team have been spotlighted by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) an ally of Trump.

After initially hailing Mueller’s appointment as special counsel, Gingrich questioned for former FBI director’s ability to be impartial on Monday because of “who he is hiring.” . . .

Two other members of Mueller’s team also have donated to Democrats.

Andrew Weissmann, who serves in a top post within the Justice Department’s fraud practice, is the most senior lawyer on the special counsel team, Bloomberg reported. He served as the FBI’s general counsel and the assistant director to Mueller when the special counsel was FBI director.

Before he worked at the FBI or Justice Department, Weissman worked at the law firm Jenner & Block LLP, during which he donated six times to political action committees for Obama in 2008 for a total of $4,700.

James Quarles, who served as an assistant special prosecutor on the Watergate Special Prosecution Force, has donated to over a dozen Democratic PACs since the late 1980s. He was also identified by the Washington Post as a member of Mueller’s team.

Starting in 1987, Quarles donated to Democratic candidate Michael Dukakis’s presidential PAC, Dukakis for President. Since then, he has also contributed in 1999 to Sen. Al Gore’s run for the presidency, then-Sen. John Kerry’s (D-Mass.) presidential bid in 2005, Obama’s presidential PAC in 2008 and 2012, and Clinton’s presidential pac Hillary for America in 2016.

Mueller’s hopelessly compromised. Nothing he does is going to be accepted as fair or impartial. He should step down.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Did Obama Hack The Election? The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Did Obama Hack The Election? The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Did Obama Hack The Election? The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Did Obama Hack The Election? The Obama administration’s illegal spying may have been worse than Watergate.

Note that unlike lefties making election-hacking claims, I cite actual evidence.

ILLEGAL DOMESTIC SURVEILLANCE: How Team Obama tried to hack the election.

New revelations have surfaced that the Obama administration abused intelligence during the election by launching a massive domestic-spy campaign that included snooping on Trump officials.

The irony is mind-boggling: Targeting political opposition is long a technique of police states like Russia, which Team Obama has loudly condemned for allegedly using its own intelligence agencies to hack into our election.

The revelations, as well as testimony this week from former Obama intel officials, show the extent to which the Obama administration politicized and weaponized intelligence against Americans.

President Trump needs to launch a major investigation, and fire a lot of people. And maybe prosecute some folks from the Obama Administration. This is much worse than Watergate, which only involved bugging a single office. Obama basically bugged America.

ANDREW MCCARTHY: A Watergate-style Scandal.

In general, it is the FBI that conducts investigations that bear on American citizens suspected of committing crimes or of acting as agents of foreign powers. In the matter of alleged Russian meddling, the investigative camp also includes the CIA and the NSA. All three agencies conducted a probe and issued a joint report in January. That was after Obama, despite having previously acknowledged that the Russian activity was inconsequential, suddenly made a great show of ordering an inquiry and issuing sanctions.

Consequently, if unmasking was relevant to the Russia investigation, it would have been done by those three agencies. And if it had been critical to know the identities of Americans caught up in other foreign intelligence efforts, the agencies that collect the information and conduct investigations would have unmasked it. Because they are the agencies that collect and refine intelligence “products” for the rest of the “intelligence community,” they are responsible for any unmasking; and they do it under “minimization” standards that FBI Director James Comey, in recent congressional testimony, described as “obsessive” in their determination to protect the identities and privacy of Americans.

Understand: There would have been no intelligence need for Susan Rice to ask for identities to be unmasked. If there had been a real need to reveal the identities — an intelligence need based on American interests — the unmasking would have been done by the investigating agencies.

The national-security adviser is not an investigator. She is a White House staffer. The president’s staff is a consumer of intelligence, not a generator or collector of it. If Susan Rice was unmasking Americans, it was not to fulfill an intelligence need based on American interests; it was to fulfill a political desire based on Democratic-party interests.

I’m so old I can remember when the Obama Administration was “amazingly scandal-free.”

THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION’S WATERGATE-LEVEL SCANDAL?: Peter J. Wallison at RealClearPolitics examines that question.

The smoking gun in Watergate was President Nixon’s effort to use the CIA to impede an FBI investigation. What kind of “gate” is the misuse of the intelligence community to get inside information on an opposing presidential candidate?

It may turn out that the Democrats, so eager to prove that the Trump campaign was colluding with the Russians, have unknowingly blundered into a matter that will come back to damage both their party and the Obama administration.

Read the whole thing.

ROGER KIMBALL: “What if?” The Evelyn Farkas Fracas.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that conservatives and Republicans (no, they are not necessarily the same) enjoy playing the counter-factual game of “What if?”

What if a Republican had presided over Benghazi instead of Ms. “At-this-point-What-Difference-Does-It-Make” Clinton?
What if a Republican administration had intervened to prevent Arizona from enforcing federal immigration laws?
What if a Republican had decided to enforce provisions of the Affordable Care Act selectively, omitting, for the time being, those that were politically inexpedient?
What if a Republican had made a deal with Iran that all-but guaranteed their acquisition of nuclear weapons within a few years?
What if a Republican administration had spied on a rival presidential candidate, who then, to the surprise of wise men everywhere, became the disfavored president-elect?
What if a Republican administration had illegally leaked, from classified intelligence reports, the names of private citizens to the media?
What if, what if, what if?

You know the answer: The well-oiled outrage machine of the media-industrial complex would have been wheeled into action. Oh my God, Mitt Romney once carried his pet dog on the roof of his car! Can you believe it? There are reports that he was mean to a kid in his high school! Obviously the heartless bastard is not qualified to be president. When asked in 2012 what was the most serious national security America faced, he said Russia. Russia! What a rube. And there was Barack Hussein Obama, really letting him have it: Now the 1980s are calling and asking for their foreign policy back! Yuk, yuk, yuk.

It’s as if our media is a bunch of politically partisan Mean Girls. Plus:

This story is in the process of putting itself together even as I write. Klavan is correct that what we are looking at here—“that the Obama Gang was using intelligence on Republicans to try to thwart a Trump administration from erasing Obama’s legacy”—is a “huge story.” He says “almost as big as the fact that Obama used the IRS to decimate the Tea Party movement.” In fact, it’s much, much bigger.

On Thursday, Kimberly Strassel wrote a blistering piece in The Wall Street Journal describing how 1) House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes saw and reported on classified information detailing such surveillance, 2) How Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the Committee, went into full flak mode, emitting a storm of obfuscations, non sequiturs, and procedural cow patties, and 3) how the cold-light-of-day finger of accusation is pointed directly at the heart of the Obama administration. “Mr. Nunes,” Strassel wrote, “has said he has seen proof that the Obama White House surveilled the incoming administration—on subjects that had nothing to do with Russia—and that it further unmasked (identified by name) transition officials. This goes far beyond a mere scandal. It’s a potential crime.”

Big time. As Michael Goodwin put it in The New York Post on Sunday, “If it can be proven that a sitting president used government authorities to spy on a candidate who then became president and orchestrated leaks of classified material, Watergate, by comparison, really would be a second-rate burglary.”

And the longer they cover for Obama now, the less they’ll be able to protect him later.

DON SURBER: Investigate ObamaGate: The abuse of presidential power by Barack Obama and his minions is Watergate on Steroids.

The Obama administration openly shared classified information with political appointees about Donald Trump in the summer of 2015, and likely earlier. The citation.
Obama’s attorney general sought warrants to spy on President Trump’s campaign team last June, and was denied last June by a federal judge. The citation.
Obama’s attorney general sought warrants to spy on a server at Trump Tower last October and was granted one by a federal judge. Ibid.
The Obama administration spied on President Trump’s transition team. The citation.

This information alone — supported by mass media news reports — is enough to warrant a criminal investigation by the Department of Justice, as well as a civil rights investigation into Barack Obama’s possible violation of Donald Trump’s right to seek the presidency.

It is a felony to conspire to “injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in any state, territory or district in the free exercise or enjoyment of any right or privilege secured to him/her by the Constitution or the laws of the Unites States.”

Related: Susan Rice unmasked? Previously said “I know nothing about” Nunes allegations.

OH, I WAS LOOKING: Andrew McCarthy: While You Weren’t Looking, the Democrat–Media Election-Hacking Narrative Just Collapsed.

But still, the media and Democrats have always had a serious vulnerability here — one they’ve never acknowledged because they’ve been too swept away by the political success of the fantasy narrative. It is this: At a certain point, if compelling evidence of collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia to steal the election did not materialize, the much more interesting question becomes “How did the government obtain all this information that has been leaked to the media to prop up the story?”

The most plausible answer to that question: The Obama administration, through the Justice Department and the FBI, was investigating the associates of the opposition party’s presidential nominee, and perhaps even the nominee himself, during the campaign. Otherwise, what explanation can there be for all of the investigative information — much of it classified, and thus illegal to disclose — that has been funneled to the press?

In short, the media and Democrats have been playing with fire for months. The use of law-enforcement and national-security assets to investigate one’s political opponents during a heated election campaign has always been a potentially explosive story. Let’s not kid ourselves: If the roles were reversed, and a Republican administration had investigated officials tied to the campaign of the Democrats’ nominee, we would be drowning in a sea of Watergate 2.0 coverage.

Well, this weekend, the potentially explosive story detonated. It happened in the now familiar way: jaw-dropping tweets by President Trump.

Every time this happens, the reaction is “Trump’s crazy tweets will sink him this time!” And yet, somehow. . . .


Here’s the most interesting part: Now that they’ve been called on it, the media and Democrats are gradually retreating from the investigation they’ve been touting for months as the glue for their conspiracy theory. It’s actually quite amusing to watch: How dare you suggest President Obama would ever order surveillance! Who said anything about FISA orders? What evidence do you lunatic conservatives have — uh, other than what we media professionals been reporting — that there was any investigation of the Trump campaign? . . .

But have you noticed? While all this head-spinning legal jibber-jabber goes back and forth, the foundation of the false narrative we’ve been hearing since November 8 has vanished. Now that we’re supposed to believe there was no real investigation of Trump and his campaign, what else can we conclude but that there was no real evidence of collusion between the campaign and Russia . . . which makes sense, since Russia did not actually hack the election, so the purported objective of the collusion never existed. Trick or tweet?

Alternatively, the spying on Trump was real and wholly political, and the Russians-under-my-bed thing was a cover story hatched after Hillary unexpectedly lost, when it became apparent that Trump, and America, would find out sooner or later what had been done.

MY USA TODAY COLUMN: Did Obama spy on Trump? It isn’t out of the question. The former president’s administration wiretapped journalists and spied on Congress.

Watergate brought down a presidency, but if the worst suspicions here are borne out, we’re dealing with something worse. Hopefully not, but there’s no way to tell at this point. As The Washington Post has been saying lately, “Democracy dies in darkness.” Let’s shine some light on what the Obama administration was doing during this election.

We need a special prosecutor. Weirdly, the commenters over at USA Today disagree.

MATTHEW VADUM: Obama’s Wiretaps? Details of a Watergate-style conspiracy against Trump emerge. With Obama’s record of promiscuous spying and politicized bureaucracy, it’s entirely believable that he was spying on Trump. But just because it’s believable doesn’t prove that it happened. To determine that, we probably need a special prosecutor — whose brief, honestly, should be expanded to cover all political spying in the Obama Administration, not just spying on Trump.

SPYING ON AMERICAN CITIZENS: James Rosen on being the target of surveillance under the Obama administration.

UPDATE: Flashback: Obama Spied on Congress, Jewish Leaders Opposed to Iran Deal. “Watergate? That was small time.”

POLITICO: How the feds could have listened to Trump’s phone calls.

Related: Yes, There Could Be Serious Legal Problems if Obama Admin Involved in Illegal Surveillance. “Here are the problematic aspects of the Obama surveillance on Trump’s team, and on Trump himself. First, it is not apparent FISA could ever be invoked. Second, it is possible Obama’s team may have perjured themselves before the FISA court by withholding material information essential to the FISA court’s willingness to permit the government surveillance. Third, it could be that Obama’s team illegally disseminated and disclosed FISA information in direct violation of the statute precisely prohibiting such dissemination and disclosure. FISA prohibits, under criminal penalty, Obama’s team from doing any of the three.”

UPDATE: ‘Conducted at the behest of the Justice Dept.’: Fmr Bush AG Mukasey discusses Trump’s wiretap claims.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Lindsey Graham offers two ways Trump Tower wiretapping could be bigger than Watergate.

SCOTT SHACKFORD: Let’s Say Russia Did Hack the Dems. What Would Be a Responsible Reaction?

From the perspective of a Gary Johnson voter who regularly feels disenfranchised from the American electoral process and probably would stop voting entirely were it not for third parties and ballot initiatives, here’s what the responses to the latest allegations that the Russian government hacked and leaked information from the Democratic Party to the press looks like:

Democratic partisans: “Having embarrassing emails and data about our inner workings released to the public is the equivalent of Watergate and Pearl Harbor combined. Why aren’t more people outraged?”

Republican partisans: “If the Russians actually were involved, this is proof how weak a President Barack Obama was on the international stage. If only he had started a few more wars and droned a few more weddings!”

Nick Gillespie blogged this morning about how we needed more transparency from our own government and more proof that the Russian government was actually involved before we were to simply accept anonymous sources with unknown agendas.

But, as a thought exercise, let’s accept it as truth. Let’s say that the Russian government, under direct orders from President Vladimir Putin, hacked and released this inside info with the intent of influencing our election. What is the “right” way to examine what happened? Perhaps those of us with no political dogs in this hunt can give some advice.

Mostly I know that if the parties were reversed this wouldn’t even be an issue, except for Jon Stewart mocking the GOP for bad security.

CONRAD BLACK ON OUR LAME ELECTION: This Is How Democracy Is Supposed To Work.

What has happened is both less alarming and less surprising than this conventional wisdom implies. The United States has rarely been the Tocquevillian idyll of Norman Rockwell families in Grandma Moses communities that is the collective self-image that Walt Disney and others have generally portrayed and that even millions of Americans who know better assume is how scores of millions of their fellow citizens live. The United States survived a civil war that killed almost 10 per cent of its adult free males, the world wars, Great Depression, the upheavals of McCarthyism and the Red Scare in the Fifties, the race riots and Vietnam war strains of the Sixties, the Watergate debacle in the Seventies. . . .

This is a uniquely tawdry presidential race because one candidate is culturally offensive to half the people, but is the only alternative to a person who has serious problems with probity and is a continuation of a sleazy and broken-down system that a majority wants changed drastically. The price of change is Donald and the cost of avoiding Donald is Hillary. So it is not surprising that the campaign has plumbed the depths it has, and that the match is so negative. Nor is it, in the long term, alarming.

A colleague who’s been following InstaPundit since the beginning asked why I don’t seem super-energized about the election. I replied that Trump, and even Hillary, would be better than Obama, so . . .

ANALYSIS: TRUE. By Rejecting Radical Islam, Obama Substitutes Political Correctness for Reality.

All administrations seem adrift at this point in their second term, because of health issues (Wilson and FDR), crises abroad (Truman and Korea, Ike and Francis Gary Powers, LBJ and Vietnam, Bush winning the Surge), internal crises such as Watergate or Iran-Contra, or in the case of the potential future “First Gentleman,” crises that emanated from his pants.

But this administration has been divorced from reality since its inception, and as Scott Johnson adds at Power Line, “Obama takes the criticism personally. Events have transpired to make him look like a fool (not that he realizes it). He is sarcastic and angry. He is condescending. He wags his finger as he lectures his critics. The straw man is the essential tool of his oratory. He cannot persuade anyone who is not already a true believer, for he is utterly obnoxious.”

All of which are reasons why, as Jonah Goldberg writes, borrowing from a favorite leitmotif of Nietzsche, the “Orlando Shooting Reaction Has the Feel of Eternal Recurrence:”

President Obama, who has spent his presidency yearning for the reality he wants rather than the one he has, once again downplayed any suggestion that this was another battle in the war on Islamic terror he does not want to fight.

“Over the coming days, we’ll uncover why and how this happened,” the president promised, referring to a killer who called 911 to proclaim his allegiance to the Islamic State and shouted “Allahu Akbar!” amidst the mayhem.

Obama conceded that it was an “act of terror,” but as John Podhoretz noted in the New York Post, referring to “terror” without a modifier is like a doctor discussing “cancer” without identifying its specific form or location; it is a way of talking around the problem without addressing it.

Which brings us to the latest utterance of Lonesome Ben Rhodes, Obama’s mouthpiece (or is it the other way around?): “Rhodes: ISIS Fight ‘Will Be More Effective’ Not Calling Them ‘Religious Organization.’

You wonder how on earth we won World War II lacking such a round-the-clock obsession with hyper-nuanced language.

MAYBE IF WE CALL IT “ENDING NIXON’S LEGACY” DEMOCRATS WILL GO ALONG: To Reclaim America, Abolish the Federal Agencies.

The decline of America, perhaps surprisingly, can be traced directly to the Nixon administration. Surprising, because the Left hated Tricky Dick with a passion that can only be compared with the passion that animates the never-Trump crowd: sheer, animal loathing. Surprising, because Nixon was the most domestically liberal, if not actually leftist, president we’ve had until Obama. Surprising, because to this day old Nixon-haters still foam at the mouth at the very thought of the man who took down the “pink lady,” Helen Gahagan Douglas, and saved Israel in 1973; a year later, of course, they finally sacked him over Watergate.

But it was during the first Nixon administration that the hideous monstrosity of the Environmental Protection Agency came into being by executive order, along with its ugly twin, the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Seemingly innocuous and well-intentioned at the time, both agencies have metastasized, their original missions completed and now forever on the prowl for something else to meddle with. They’re both unconstitutional, of course, but what’s even worse is that they’ve turned into rogue agencies, issuing edicts, orders and regulations largely devoid of congressional scrutiny — pure instruments of executive power, with none to gainsay them.

To get an idea of just hoe obnoxious and intrusive these do-gooder agencies have become, get a load of this from Lou Ann Rieley, who owns a farm in Delaware.

It’s time to De-Nixonize America!

ALL THE PRESIDENT’S POSTMODERNISTS: In “The day Trump killed the fact,” the Washington Post’s Alexandra Petri displays a rather short — and selective — memory:

It’s Tuesday, March 29, 2016, and facts are dead.

They had a good run.

It used to be that when people said “Who are you going to believe, me, or your own eyes?,” they were joking. Not the Donald Trump campaign. It remains stubbornly impervious to reality.

“But we have video footage of this happening,” you can say. “Look, here it is!”

“Ah,” the Trump campaign says, bending eight spoons and then vanishing into a telephone, “but what if the whole world exists only as a figment of our minds?”

The Trump campaign has been an ongoing test of how few things people are willing to Google.

But long before the rise of Donald Trump’s political career, the Washington Post has also had a casual, elastic relationship with capital-T truth. Let’s take a look at couple of their more recent lapses into postmodernism. In 2010, in response to Richard Armitage being ignored in Fair Game, Sean Penn’s film version of Valerie Plame’s memoirs, Post film critic Ann Hornaday sniffed and responded ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ :

In Washington, watching fact-based political movies has become a sport all its own, with viewers hyper-alert to mistakes, composite characters or real stories hijacked by political agendas. But what audiences often fail to take into account is that a too-literal allegiance to the facts can sometimes obscure a larger truth.

* * * * * * *

Thus, the movies about Washington that get the right stuff right — or get some stuff wrong but in the right way — become their own form of consensus history. “Follow the money,” then, assumes its own totemic truth. Ratified through repeated viewings in theaters, on Netflix and beyond, these films become a mutual exercise in creating a usable past. We watch them to be entertained, surely, and maybe educated. But we keep watching them in order to remember.

Hornaday’s article is titled “Washington-set films may fudge facts, but good ones speak to larger truths.”

That same year, Matt Yglesias, then writing columns for the preBezos Post before joining GE-backed tweeted:


And there’s that whole Watergate thing and the origins of legendary Post mole “Deep Throat,” aka disgruntled FBI agent Mark Felt, and how he was shielded for decades by the Post.

“As a famous Soviet dissident joke put it: ‘In the Soviet Union, the future is known; it’s the past which is always changing,’” Dennis Prager once wrote, and reality has been equally fungible at the Post as well. Having argued in favor of postmodernism for years, and having aggressively defended two presidents in recent memory who lived by that philosophy*, they’ve failed to notice that facts in the MSM in general and the Post specifically died long before Tuesday, March 29, 2016. Perhaps if the Post had defended truth more rigorously when it was abused by administrations that its Democrat operatives with bylines supported, the newspaper would be in a better position to complain when a presidential candidate its staff collectively loathes comes along to make a hash of it.

* To the point where Newsweek, then-owned by the Washington Post spiked its exclusive by Michael Isikoff on Bill Clinton’s oval office dalliance with Monica Lewinsky at the start of 2008, thus inadvertently fueling the meteoric rise of the Drudge Report, and at the start of 2009, perhaps declaring its own obituary before being offloaded soon after by the Post a $1.00, famously declared “We Are All Socialists Now” on its cover.

Related flashback: Washington Post cartoonist Ann Telnaes depicts children of Hispanic presidential candidate as monkeys.


What the DoJ decides to do with email-gate is ultimately a question of politics as much as justice. Ms. Clinton’s recent statement on her potential prosecution, “it’s not going to happen,” then refusing to address the question at all in a recent debate, led to speculation about a backroom deal with the White House to shield Ms. Clinton from prosecution as long as Mr. Obama is in the Oval Office. After mid-January, however, all bets would be off. In that case, winning the White House herself could be an urgent matter of avoiding prosecution for Ms. Clinton.

That said, if the DoJ declines to prosecute after the Bureau recommends doing so, a leak-fest of a kind not seen in Washington, D.C., since Watergate should be anticipated. The FBI would be angry that its exhaustive investigation was thwarted by dirty deals between Democrats. In that case, a great deal of Clintonian dirty laundry could wind up in the hands of the press, habitual mainstream media covering for the Clintons notwithstanding, perhaps having a major impact on the presidential race this year.

The FBI isn’t the only powerful federal agency that Hillary Clinton needs to worry about as she plots her path to the White House between scandals and leaks. For years, she has been on the bad side of the National Security Agency, America’s most important intelligence agency, as revealed by just-released State Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act. . . .

Now, over two months later, I can confirm that the contents of Sid Blumenthal’s June 8, 2011, email to Hillary Clinton, sent to her personal, unclassified account, were indeed based on highly sensitive NSA information. The agency investigated this compromise and determined that Mr. Blumenthal’s highly detailed account of Sudanese goings-on, including the retelling of high-level conversations in that country, was indeed derived from NSA intelligence.

Specifically, this information was illegally lifted from four different NSA reports, all of them classified “Top Secret / Special Intelligence.” Worse, at least one of those reports was issued under the GAMMA compartment, which is an NSA handling caveat that is applied to extraordinarily sensitive information (for instance, decrypted conversations between top foreign leadership, as this was). GAMMA is properly viewed as a SIGINT Special Access Program, or SAP, several of which from the CIA Ms. Clinton compromised in another series of her “unclassified” emails.

Currently serving NSA officials have told me they have no doubt that Mr. Blumenthal’s information came from their reports. “It’s word-for-word, verbatim copying,” one of them explained. “In one case, an entire paragraph was lifted from an NSA report” that was classified Top Secret / Special Intelligence.

How Mr. Blumenthal got his hands on this information is the key question, and there’s no firm answer yet. The fact that he was able to take four separate highly classified NSA reports—none of which he was supposed to have any access to—and pass the details of them to Hillary Clinton via email only hours after NSA released them in Top Secret / Special Intelligence channels indicates something highly unusual, as well as illegal, was going on.

But who will enforce the law against Hillary? It’s not as if we live under the rule of law here anymore.

Related: Lt. General (Ret) Mike Flynn: Why Hillary Clinton Should Suspend Her Presidential Bid.

Also: Your Hillary Emailgate Timeline/Reader.

THIS SEEMS IMPORTANT: Hillary Has An NSA Problem: The FBI has been investigating Clinton for months—but an even more secretive Federal agency has its own important beef with her.

What DoJ decides to do with EmailGate is ultimately a question of politics as much as justice. Ms. Clinton’s recent statement on her potential prosecution, “it’s not going to happen,” then refusing to address the question at all in a recent debate, led to speculation about a backroom deal with the White House to shield Hillary from prosecution as long as Mr. Obama is in the Oval Office. After mid-January, however, all bets would be off. In that case, winning the White House herself could be an urgent matter of avoiding prosecution for Ms. Clinton.

That said, if DoJ declines to prosecute after the Bureau recommends doing so, a leak-fest of a kind not seen in Washington, D.C., since Watergate should be anticipated. The FBI would be angry that its exhaustive investigation was thwarted by dirty deals between Democrats. In that case, a great deal of Clintonian dirty laundry could wind up in the hands of the press, habitual mainstream media covering for the Clintons notwithstanding, perhaps having a major impact on the presidential race this year.

Neither is the FBI the only powerful Federal agency that Hillary Clinton needs to worry about as she plots her path to the White House between scandals and leaks. For years, she has been on the bad side of the National Security Agency, America’s most important intelligence agency, as revealed by just-released State Department documents obtained by Judicial Watch under the Freedom of Information Act. . . .

Now, over two months later, I can confirm that the contents of Sid Blumenthal’s June 8, 2011 email to Hillary Clinton, sent to her personal, unclassified account, were indeed based on highly sensitive NSA information. The Agency investigated this compromise and determined that Mr. Blumenthal’s highly detailed account of Sudanese goings-on, including the retelling of high-level conversations in that country, was indeed derived from NSA intelligence.

Specifically, this information was illegally lifted from four different NSA reports, all of them classified Top Secret / Special Intelligence. Worse, at least one of those reports was issued under the GAMMA compartment, which is an NSA handling caveat that is applied to extraordinarily sensitive information (for instance, decrypted conversations between top foreign leadership, as this was). GAMMA is properly viewed as a SIGINT Special Access Program or SAP, several of which from CIA Ms. Clinton compromised in another series of her “unclassified” emails.

Currently serving NSA officials have told me they have no doubt that Mr. Blumenthal’s information came from their reports. “It’s word-for-word, verbatim copying,” one of them explained. “In one case, an entire paragraph was lifted from an NSA report” that was classified Top Secret / Special Intelligence.

How Sid Blumenthal got his hands on this information is the key question, and there’s no firm answer yet.

Somebody should find out.

DEMS’ REVOLUTION IS ALREADY HERE: “Near the end of the debate, former Sen. Jim Webb of Virginia said he has a great deal of admiration for Sanders — a self-described progressive, socialist and democratic socialist — but also said: ‘Bernie, I don’t think the revolution’s going to come. And I don’t think the Congress is going to pay for a lot of this stuff.’ Wrong. The revolution has come. And Congress won’t pay for it. Taxpayers will.”

Usually during election years when Democrats believe they have a serious shot at winning the White House, they cloak their socialism with something far more reasonable sounding. Jimmy Carter ran against the DC establishment as a post-Watergate reformer. Bill Clinton excoriated George H.W. Bush for raising taxes and ran to the right of Papa Bush on several other issues. Obama was given a bit of a pass because many assumed his socialist rhetoric was merely boob bait for the bobos (to mash up Pat Moynihan and David Brooks), and that once in office, he would govern following the relatively successful centrist model of Bill Clinton. (Won’t get fooled again.)

What does it say about the Democrats when they’re really letting their socialist freak flag so blatantly high this time around?

SYRIA IS OBAMA’S WATERGATE, Michael Goodwin writes:

What did he know and when did he know it? The immortal question about Richard Nixon and Water­gate should be posed to Barack Obama about Syria. What and when did he know about Vladimir Putin’s axis-of-evil coalition?

The significance is not limited to Syria. The question goes to the heart of the Iran nuclear deal, especially the timing of the congressional votes.

Imagine Obama trying to sell the Iran deal now. With Russia, Iran and Iraq working together to muscle the United States aside and defend Bashar al-Assad, the president couldn’t possibly argue that the nuke deal would help stabilize the Middle East. Nor could he argue that Russia could be trusted to help enforce ­restrictions on Iran.

The strong likelihood that Obama would have lost the Iran vote if Congress knew then what the world knows now suggests the possibility the president concealed the Russian plan until the Iran deal was done. That view fits with his single-minded determination to get a deal at any price, including making key concessions and downplaying Iranian threats to Israel and the United States.

After all that, what’s another lie?

Don’t think of Obama’s approach to the Middle East as a lie — think of it merely as a series of promises reaching their expiration dates.

AN INSTA-READER ON HILLARY’S EMAIL SCANDAL: With Glenn on the road today, he forwarded a letter from an Insta-reader:

 I am a federal employee and I would appreciate you not referring to me by name.

The appearance of TS/SCI information in Hillary Clinton’s unclassified email led me to immediately ask, “who down-domained the information?”

Classified material with SCI caveats only resides on JWICS. That is an air-gapped computer network. While there are systems that allow users to send file from lower domains to higher ones, there is no such system to take information and send it to a lower domain.

If I have unclassified information on a classified system, I have to burn the data to a CD and carry it (“sneaker-net”) to an unclassified computer. Of course, this was after a second party reviewed the data and it was electronically scanned for hidden data. This is all logged on paper. The network also logs every time something is burned to CD.

Who burned the classified data found on Clinton’s email and used sneaker-net to email it to her? If I was investigating this, that is the person that I would like to ask some questions.

The Washington Post’s Bob Woodward is comparing the Hillary scandal to Watergate on MSNBC, much to the chagrin of the rest of the Post and NBC. And as with Watergate, look for the president to stonewall any Congressional investigation. “Just in case you thought Hillary might be indicted, Obama spent the weekend socializing with her and Bill,” Allahpundit writes at Hot Air. “Not just socializing, I should note, but socializing in public, an implicit reminder to the DOJ and intelligence community that Hillary Clinton’s prospects are important to him and his party. When was the last time the subject of an FBI investigation that’s on the front page of newspapers across the country got to party with the president the same week?”

ED MORRISSEY: Watergate and the Abuse of Power: A Lesson Unlearned.

The familiarity of these events, coupled with the increasing impulse of Obama to abandon constitutional limits, shows that America largely ignored the lessons of Watergate. It’s not enough to be wary of executive power when the opposition party controls the White House, as Republicans belatedly learned in 1974; to defend and protect constitutional government and the rule of law, that vigilance has to exist at all times.

Some of the same voices that shrieked with horror at the threat of the “unitary executive” under George W. Bush seem perfectly comfortable now with Obama ruling by executive fiat rather than governing under the rule of law, as long as it’s only their bêtes noires that get targeted.

Perhaps it’s fitting that the anniversaries of Watergate and the Great World War are so close together, as we seem to have difficulty learning from either.

Apparently so.

AMNESTY: John Hinderaker: Is Barack Obama Plotting a Coup? “When a tyrant asserts the right to rule by decree in a state that has formerly been subject to the rule of law, he is commonly described as carrying out a coup d’etat. That is just what the Obama administration has done, and reportedly will continue to do. . . . Can you imagine the furor that would have resulted if President Nixon, in the midst of the Watergate crisis, had asserted the right to repeal or amend federal statutes by decree? No, actually, you can’t. Forget impeachment; he would have been escorted out of the Oval Office by the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs. What, then, makes Barack Obama special?” He’s black. And a Democrat. Not necessarily in that order.

IN USA TODAY, TAXPROF PAUL CARON ON THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE IRS SCANDAL: The media ignore IRS scandal: We need to get to the bottom of it by giving Lois Lerner full immunity in exchange for her testimony.

Related: The IRS scandal for dummies.

Now with the warrant of Caron’s column I add my usual reminder. Nixon’s efforts to misuse the IRS were futile. They went nowhere. Nixon and his henchmen desired the IRS to “screw” their political opponents, but their efforts were a pathetic failure.

Nixon henchman Jack Caulfield astutely complained that the IRS was a “monstrous bureaucracy…dominated and controlled by Democrats.” As we have come to see, Caulfield was on to something. By contrast with Nixon’s failures to misuse the IRS, the IRS have very effectively “screwed” Obama’s political opponents, and we have yet to learn what the president knew and when he knew it.

Indeed. Though it’s possible that the IRS is so politicized that its employees needed no explicit instructions to go after Obama’s enemies. Arguing against that, however, is the White House’s stonewalling.

IN USA TODAY, TAXPROF PAUL CARON ON THE ONE YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF THE IRS SCANDAL: The media ignore IRS scandal: We need to get to the bottom of it by giving Lois Lerner full immunity in exchange for her testimony.

MARC THIESSEN IN THE WASHINGTON POST: Where was Obama during Benghazi? Ask the White House diarist.

What was President Obama doing during the eight hours that the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi, Libya, was under attack? Amazingly, we still do not know 20 months later.

But there is an easy way to find out — just ask the White House diarist. When trying to keep track of the president’s time, most observers look at “WAVE records” (the White House visitors log listing everyone who enters the White House complex) and the “President’s Public Schedule” (which selectively lists the president’s public activities). But there is another document that meticulously records all the president’s activities, public and private, every second of every day. It is called the “President’s Daily Diary.”

Just outside the Oval Office is a room called the Outer Oval, where the president’s secretary and personal aide sit and through which all visitors coming to see the president pass. Staff members in the Outer Oval keep track of the president’s location at all times. They carefully record the names of all individuals who walk into the Oval Office — when they entered, how long they stayed, what the topic of discussion was. They keep a record of all calls made and received by the president, including the topic, participants and duration. They even record the president’s bathroom breaks (they write “evacuating” into the log).

Congress could also subpoena his Secret Service detail. Plus: “During Watergate, Richard Nixon had his infamous 18 1 / 2-minute gap. When it comes to Benghazi, Obama has an eight-hour gap. That gap needs to be closed. If Obama has nothing to hide, then he has nothing to fear.” Obviously he has something to hide, or he wouldn’t have hidden it for 20 months.

RICHARD BENEDETTO: On Benghazi, Which Democrat Will Play the Role Howard Baker Played In Watergate? My guess: None. Howard Baker had scruples.

SLATE: Donald Sterling Is a Vile Racist: But even a horrible human being doesn’t deserve to have his property stripped away. “A private citizen whose private thoughts were audio-taped (perhaps illegally) has been told he can no longer own his private property because of the thoughts that were revealed on that tape. These thoughts were loathsome to be sure, but didn’t advocate anything illegal and didn’t call for any violent or even literally hurtful actions.” Sorry, that’s pre-Obama Era thinking. Now, anyone who offends the collective is fair game.

Though given that, at this point, Sterling doesn’t have much to lose, I wouldn’t be surprised to see him strike back. The ex-Mistress is an obvious target for a lawsuit, since her recording was illegal in California, I believe. And if, as I saw some talking head saying on CNN this morning, the NBA’s charter doesn’t specifically address this kind of thing, he might be able to sue them for civil rights conspiracy: Combining to punish him for free expression. The damages might be large, and the litigation would be extensive and involve a lot of discovery, and a lot of closely held NBA financial information would probably become public.

I’d do it, if I were him, but I was always a Samson-in-the-temple kind of guy. And if I were an 81-year-old billionaire who’d been savaged in public for weeks, I’d probably be more inclined to do so.

UPDATE: This analysis from Sports Illustrated misses the civil rights conspiracy angle, but is otherwise pretty sound. Note this:

Sterling suing may lead to pretrial discovery, which could be designed in part to embarrass other owners and NBA officials of any bigoted remarks or beliefs on their part. Keep in mind, if Sterling is ousted because of racism, he would likely demand that evidence showing that other owners and officials are also racist be shared. He would use such information to portray his penalty as unwarranted and contradicted by the conduct of those who ousted him. Sterling might request emails and other records from owners and officials that depict them in a negative light. Sterling has owned the Clippers for 33 years, which suggests that he has had many interactions — including private conversations with league officials and owners. If there are other owners who are racist or bigoted, it stands to reason Sterling knows who they are.

There’s a gold mine out there. And they’ll have to be worried that there are tapes, since apparently the NBA is one big Watergate. “The NBA is starting to resemble the Watergate era now that it is known that current Celtics assistant coach Dan Erman was fired from the Golden State Warriors for taping private conversations by coaches and players. The Warriors termination of Erman comes on the heels of Clippers owner Donald Sterling being fired for having his private conversation recorded, which unveiled his racial bigotry.”

HOWARD KURTZ: No special prosecutor for IRS scandal: Here’s the back story.

When the IRS inspector general found improper targeting of conservative groups in the Cincinnati office, Obama called the conduct “inexcusable.” Last month, though, he told Bill O’Reilly there was not a “smidgen of corruption” in the IRS.

The problem is the same one that gave birth to the post-Watergate law. If Justice finds no higher-ups were involved in the IRS misconduct, would that finding have credibility with the public? Would an outside probe have more credibility, or spiral out of control?

With the independent counsel law dead and buried, we’re not likely to find out.

Obama’s fine with that.


I don’t have a whole lot of institutional love for CIA, but I do feel the need to defend their honor on at least some point of what being misreported….

The first media reports and screaming headlines made it seem like CIA had sent wet-work teams to break into DiFi’s office to bug her computer, ala Watergate. Slowly the hysteria has been walked back, but some still persists. The Arstechnica headline for instance: “How CIA snooped on Senate Intel Committee’s files: It’s easy to search someone’s network when you hired the IT department.”

First, they weren’t SSCI’s files, they were CIA files in a CIA database that SSCI staffers were allowed access to. Additionally, it wasn’t “someone’s network” (i.e. SSCI’s), it was a CIA network that contained said database and files. So of course they hired the IT department. But if you read most of the press, you would think CIA was hacking Capitol Hill…

I highly recommend Eli Lake’s article from last Friday, for a balanced piece of reporting.

Now whether or not the monitoring/auditing done was normal innocuous IT activity, or the crime that DiFi seems to think it is, I have no idea. But I do know that most reporting has been based on speculation, misinterpretation, and projection, not actual facts. Like the ones Eli Lake was able to report.

On one last note, I am not sure how DiFi can claim that this is some grand 4th Amendment violation, given that the staffers are USG employees, doing USG work, on USG systems. Even if the activity was illegal, it in no way violated their personal expectations of privacy. Every USG computer system (and phone) is required to have disclaimers stating that their use implies a “Consent to be monitored”.

And given that post-Snowden NSA was roasted for not monitoring what files their own people could access, shouldn’t we applaud CIA to for perhaps tracking which files non-agency employees accessed?

Everything should generate an audit trail. It’s not clear that’s what happened here, though to be fair, it’s not clear it isn’t, though I believe DiFi and her staffers were promised that no one would track what they looked at, and that promise was broken. But — and this is my key point — while spying on foreigners is fine, trust in the intelligence community has taken a hit in no small part because so many other parts of the bureaucracy that are supposed to be apolitical have been politicized and weaponized by the Obama Administration. That kind of damage takes a generation to undo.

THE HILL: It’s WWIII Between CIA, Senate: Senators Alarmed By Alleged CIA Spying On Committee.

Senators on Wednesday expressed alarm at explosive allegations that the CIA might have spied on their computers to keep tabs on their controversial review of Bush-era “enhanced interrogation” techniques.

Lawmakers from both parties said that if the allegations against the CIA prove true, intelligence officials might have violated the law — and certainly violated the separation of powers enshrined in the Constitution.

“I’m assuming that’s it’s not true, but if it is true, it should be World War III in terms of Congress standing up for itself against the CIA, ” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) told The Hill.

Intelligence Committee Chairwoman Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) confirmed Wednesday that the CIA inspector general was investigating accusations that the covert agency had peered into the panel’s computers. But she didn’t comment on reports that the investigator has referred the matter to the Justice Department.

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), an ex officio member of the Intelligence panel, said the charge of spying is “extremely serious.”

“There are laws against intruding and tampering, hacking into, accessing computers without permission. And that law applies to everybody,” he said.

Brennan in a statement said he was “dismayed” by the “spurious allegations,” which he said were “wholly unsupported by the facts.”

His statement was released Wednesday evening as McClatchy reported that the computer spying was allegedly discovered when the CIA confronted the Senate Intelligence panel about documents removed from the agency’s headquarters.

If the CIA was spying on its own oversight committee — with the President’s knowledge — that’s much worse than Watergate. And if there was this kind of illegal spying going on, what else was there?

TRAIN WRECK: Obama’s Current Approval Rating Is The Ugliest Since Nixon. “President Barack Obama is ending his fifth year in office with the lowest approval ratings at this point in the presidency since President Richard Nixon, according to a new Washington Post/ABC poll released Tuesday. Obama’s approval rating in the poll stands at 43%. By comparison, President George W. Bush had a 47% approval rating at the end of the fifth year of his presidency. And all other Post-World War II presidents had approval ratings above 50% — with the exception of Nixon, who, amid the Watergate scandal, had a dreadful 29% approval rating.”

UPDATE: Pew: Liberal support for Obama at all-time low, worse than George W. Bush and conservatives. Just imagine what it would be like if the press treated Obama the way it treated Bush. Or Nixon, whom Obama more closely resembles.

ANOTHER UPDATE: ObamaCare Alone Didn’t Sink Obama. “Let’s be clear how rotten a year it has been even aside from the Obamacare fiasco. The president managed to get rid of only a sliver of the Bush tax cuts, to the dismay of liberals. He falsely predicted a catastrophe if the sequester occurred. He pleaded ignorance to scandals involving the Internal Revenue Service and spying on reporters. He pleased neither hawks nor civil libertarians in his half-hearted defense of NSA surveillance. His intransigence in the government shutdown hurt him as well (although not nearly as much as it did the Republicans). And his frighteningly erratic behavior on Syria and dangerous appeasement of Iran rattled Congress, our allies and the American people (who now give him negative reviews on foreign policy). Finally, while the economic has ticked up the vast majority of Americans (79 percent in the Post/ABC poll) still think we are in a recession and a plurality (45 percent) trust Congress more than the president to fix it. In essence, Obamacare broke the back of his already faltering presidency.”

TOM MAGUIRE: So How Many Died At Watergate? “And do let’s note – a standard lib talking point during the promotion of Obamacare was that access to health insurance saves lives. Dare we presume that failure to implement Obamacare thereby costs lives, eventually if not by this weekend? Ezra Klein was talking about 15,000 to 20,000 lives per year, which dwarfs the 1,833 who died at Katrina.”

Dude. Those talking points are only applicable against Republicans.

DEBT CEILING: James Taranto: Was Ted Kennedy A Terrorist? Obama, Nixon and the debt threat.

This columnist was no admirer of Ted Kennedy, and we view government efforts to control political speech as an affront to the Constitution. But it would be ludicrous to suggest that Kennedy was a terrorist, even though that is the implication of the Pfeiffer-Times-Yglesias argument. Agree or not with its cause, it had significant popular support, in large part because of the corruption of the Nixon White House.

Here is where the analogy to the Nixon years gets very interesting. The Republicans did not sneak into Congress to stage a surprise attack. They were duly elected in 2010 precisely because of widespread public opposition to ObamaCare. That law was enacted by the requisite majorities, if bare ones, in both houses of Congress. Yet while it was not illegitimate, it felt that way, and it would be fair to characterize its enactment as a failure of democratic governance. Had members of the House and Senate responded to their constituents’ wishes rather than presidential and partisan pressure, it would have gone down to defeat, probably overwhelmingly.

To be sure, backlash against ObamaCare did not prove sufficient to deny Obama a second term. His supporters claim that even if the 2010 election left the question of ObamaCare unsettled, the 2012 election resettled it. The morning after Election Day, it would have been hard to disagree.

Yet Obama is now in a position very much analogous to that of President Nixon in 1973. We now know that government corruption–namely IRS persecution of dissenters–was a factor in Obama’s re-election. To be sure, Obama himself has not, at least so far, been implicated in the IRS wrongdoing as Nixon ultimately was in Watergate. On the other hand, Nixon’s re-election victory was so overwhelming that no one could plausibly argue Watergate was a necessary condition for it. The idea that Obama could not have won without an abusive IRS is entirely plausible.

The Obama supporters who counsel intractability overlook the practical political risk of such an approach. Maybe Republicans will back down in the end, but maybe they won’t. That is to say, Obama’s intransigence could trigger a catastrophic result, and whether it does is beyond his control.

If that happens, maybe the majority of voters will blame Republicans, but maybe they won’t. Courting and then presiding over a catastrophe is not exactly a fail-safe plan for strengthening one’s presidency.

Obama’s line is “the Republicans are unreasonable because they won’t compromise — and neither will I!”

JAMES TARANTO: The Press And The IRS: Journalistic Partisanship Fed The Scandal.

The Washington Post is credited with exposing the Watergate conspiracy and helping to bring down a corrupt presidency. Forty years later, the Post played a role in the corruption of the Internal Revenue Service, to the benefit of an incumbent president in a bitter and close re-election.

A staff memo released earlier this week by the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee provides an “interim update” on the investigation of the IRS scandal. A central finding: “Media attention caused the IRS to treat conservative-oriented tax-exempt applications differently” from liberal or progressive ones.

The memo presents no evidence that the White House directly ordered the IRS to crack down on political opponents. Instead, it is consistent with the theory, described here in May, that IRS personnel responded to “dog whistles” (in Peggy Noonan’s metaphor) in public statements from the president and his supporters. . . .

As we have argued before, Barack Obama’s re-election deserves to be listed with an asterisk in the record books. He is the political equivalent of an athlete found to have used illicit performance-enhancing drugs. Whether he would have won in 2012 absent the IRS’s political corruption is unknowable. We know only that he did win with the help of a corrupt IRS. And if indeed the election was stolen, many in the media were complicit in its theft.


HOW’S THAT HOPEY-CHANGEY STUFF WORKIN’ OUT FOR YA? (CONT’D): Gallup: Public’s trust in federal government to handle problems reaches 40-year low. “Lower than it was after Watergate, lower than it was at the nadir of Bush’s job approval collapse. Obama promised he’d bring change, and he delivered.”

VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: Obama’s Watergates: Denial, evasion, “Let me be perfectly clear” — is this 2013 or 1973?


Watergate has become the default historical template for the Obama scandals, as charges about enemies lists, executive-agency politicization, and high-handed federal snooping dominate the discussion. But those hunting for historical analogies would do well to consider the even closer parallels between these events and occurrences during the New Deal and Fair Deal.

Franklin D. Roosevelt routinely audited the income taxes of such critics as Representative Hamilton Fish, a Republican who represented the president’s hometown of Hyde Park, N.Y. Democrats of that era not only found creative ways to intimidate conservative and libertarian organizations, but also, like their modern counterparts, eventually attracted charges of witch-hunting.

The modern Tea Party, however, has yet to find a more effective symbol of defiance than Edward A. Rumely. Though he is largely forgotten today, the publisher’s appearance in June 1950 before a special House committee to investigate lobbying was a defining moment.

When Rumely showed up to testify, nobody was quite sure what he would say. For the most part, he answered the committee’s questions, but he stood his ground on one issue: He refused to name the Americans who had purchased a book critical of the New Deal. Pointing to the First Amendment, he asserted that the committee had “no power to go into a newspaper publisher and say, ‘Give me your subscription list.’ And you have no power to come to us.” If the House wanted to cite him for contempt, then he promised to give it “an education on the Bill of Rights.” Chairman Frank Buchanan warned that the unfriendly witness risked a contempt resolution, and vowed not to “divert this hearing into an argument over constitutional rights.” . . .

Rumely had the last laugh in his legal case. In 1953, the U.S. Supreme Court unanimously overturned the contempt-of-Congress resolution. In a concurring opinion, the Court’s most liberal members, William O. Douglas and Hugo Black, endorsed Rumely’s free-speech and privacy rights in no uncertain terms. They described the Buchanan committee’s demands as “the beginning of surveillance of the press.”

Somebody should write a book on this kind of thing.

UPDATE: Response? Tea Partiers should visit the homes of government officials and leave copies of the Constitution.

NO, BUT THEY’LL DO THEIR BEST: Investor’s Business Daily: Media Can’t Ignore New Developments In IRS Scandal. An extensive roundup of the rather disturbing recent developments, plus this: “Lew, Carney and Obama himself act like people worried about a threat lying a little farther under investigators’ shovels. And they should be considering the suspicious timeline of Obama-appointed IRS chief counsel William Wilkins visiting the president on April 23 last year; IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman visiting the White House the next day; and Wilkins’ office sending the IRS “guidance” on the Tea Party the day after that. . . . If we find our tax-collection agency helped re-elect a president under political orders, Watergate could look trivial by comparison.”

ED DRISCOLL: Obama And The IRS: Worse Than Watergate.

Fortunately, the Washington Post, which sometimes simplifies the events of the 1970s down to thinking of itself as the Paper That Brought You Watergate, is equally hard on Mr. Obama’s men and women as it was on All the President’s Men who served under Mr. Nixon. For example, check out these two recent headlines:

“A White House counsel known for her shoes”
“White House press secretary Jay Carney discusses favorite band, Guided by Voices”

In the 1920s, H.L. Mencken, described his vision of journalism as a fundamentally adversarial one, no matter who was in charge. “It is the prime function of a really first-rate newspaper to serve as a sort of permanent opposition in politics.”

And then there’s whatever the Washington Post is. Journalism, baby.


NATIONAL JOURNAL: How the Scandals Turned Obama Into a Dour Scold.

Even from 2,300 miles away and across the ideological gap that separates him from President Obama, Republican Ken Khachigian can recognize the signs and even feel a little empathy for the Democratic incumbent at perhaps the lowest point of his presidency. Khachigian was there at the White House from 1970 to 1974 to watch another president cope with scandal.

“You feel besieged. You feel defensive, especially when things are coming in from all directions,” he told National Journal from his Southern California home, recalling his days watching President Nixon deal with Watergate. “You do feel embattled. And it can distort, to some extent, your perception and your ability to get things done.” . . .

It is in that regard that Obama has faltered in the days since the story of the misdeeds at the IRS broke, cranking up the political and media intensity. One can argue whether the White House was too slow to respond and stanch the bleeding. In some ways, that is a question for lawyers, who can debate how cautious a president must be in responding to such allegations. But it is hard to disagree that this president has lost his footing in the way he presents himself.

Optimism is a vastly underrated component of a successful presidency. Voters tend to reject presidents who are dour or who talk of malaise. They reward those like Franklin Roosevelt and Ronald Reagan, who offer hope and grand promises. Obama must know this. It was in many ways the basis of his improbable campaign success in 2008. And even today, beset by controversies and investigations, he pays it rhetorical service. But the message is decidedly mixed.

In truth, Obama’s never been that much of an optimist. He’s been more about demonization and payback. It just shows more now.

UPDATE: Bob Woodward Compares Benghazi To Watergate.



Hilary Chabot: Critics draw comparisons to Watergate.

President Obama’s angry dismissal of the growing outcry over the handling of last year’s Benghazi terrorist attack that left a U.S. ambassador dead shows all the signs of a White House in “damage control” mode, critics say.

“They are in damage control, and this story is now gaining traction because people are now talking about it even more,” said Richard Benedetto, an American University political science professor and former White House correspondent for USA Today. “This story to me has all the makings of a Watergate kind of story. What did they know and when did they know it, and what did people in the White House do to cover it up?”

Joe Battenfeld: Obama knee-deep in Nixon-esque scandal. “Who would have guessed that just a few months into his second term, President Obama would be compared to Tricky Dick. And by a liberal Massachusetts Democrat — U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano.”

Plus: Bay State Dems vow: ‘Hell to pay’ if IRS allegations ring true.

Outraged Bay State Democrats are blasting President Obama for exhibiting a Nixonian abuse of power after the stunning news that the Department of Justice secretly obtained Associated Press phone records and the IRS targeted conservative groups — new scandals emerging against the backdrop of heightened Benghazi criticism.

“There’s no way in the world I’m going to defend that. Hell, I spent my youth vilifying the Nixon administration for doing the same thing. If they did that, there should be hell to pay,” U.S. Rep. Michael E. Capuano (D-Somerville) said about the IRS scandal. “Not only is it bad government and bad to society, it is horrendous politics. The worst thing you can do is give your opponent an easy hammer with which to hit you.”

“It doesn’t seem to be a couple rogue employees. This appeared to be a systemic issue,” said U.S. Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-South Boston), who wants to investigate the matter as a member of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The committee already has scheduled a hearing on the issue for this week, Lynch said, adding, “No American should find themselves the target of the IRS or any other federal organization because of their political beliefs.”

Both U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-Malden) and the GOP’s Gabriel Gomez, rivals in the Senate special election, slammed the administration’s actions, as new reports emerged yesterday that the Department of Justice seized two months’ worth of phone records from Associated Press reporters and editors.

Read ’em all. If this is how it’s playing with Massachusetts Democrats . . . .

UPDATE: At BuzzFeed a creepy morphing Obama/Nixon .gif.

“Obama is personally obsessed with leaks, to the extent that his second chief of staff, Bill Daley, took as one of his central mandates a major and ill-fated plumbing expedition. Attorney General Eric Holder, who pressed the leak policy, is a trusted Obama insider.” Sounds familiar.

MORE: Donald Sensing: Barack Milhous Obamixon. “Nixon was a beginner compared to Obama, which we already knew back in 2009.”

IS OBAMA THE (IMPERIAL) PRESIDENT NIXON ALWAYS WANTED TO BE? It’s an immensely important question, but the fact that Jonathan Turley is raising it in USA Today is also rather significant. If this becomes an MSM meme …

NOBEL PEACE PRIZE UPDATE: CIA Drone War in Pakistan Exempt From Coming Drone “Playbook.”

Back when Mitt Romney (remember him?) looked like he might’ve been on his way to becoming the next president of the United States, Barack Obama and his team at the White House scrambled to put together some kind of rules for the use of drones to pursue targeted killings. Though Obama made drone warfare a centerpiece of his counterterrorism effort, relying far more heavily on the tactic than his predecessor George Bush ever did, codifying the process didn’t become an urgent concern until it actually looked like Obama’s presidency may have been coming to an end.

It didn’t of course, and Obama instead began his second term this weekend. It wasn’t his own inauguration that forced the codification of drone rules along, though, but the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA. Requiring confirmation by the Senate, the nomination provided the opportunity for senators to choose to question the White House’s drone war. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) has asked Brennan to outline the rules for the use of drones in targeted killings. What’s known about the use of drones publicly indicates a “due process” almost entirely self-contained in the White House that’s seemingly immune from disclosure.

Funny, I’d swear that we used to have an antiwar movement that called for war crimes tribunals over stuff like this. I wonder where they went?

UPDATE: Kathy Kinsley emails:

Except for Cindy Sheehan (who I both dislike for her stance, and admire because she’s just not quitting), they all seemed to melt into thin air in late 2008. Perhaps because the anti-war protesters in Lyndon Johnson’s era recalled who won after they made him unpopular?

Peace with honor? I don’t think so. I can forgive Nixon’s Watergate, but I will NEVER forgive him Saigon’s helicopters.

I always suspected that the “antiwar” movement was just a shameful partisan ploy. And I was pretty much right, with the exceptions barely worth mentioning.

Oh, that goes for the press people who covered them, too.


Whoops. That’s exactly what Republicans were saying when the FBI and newspaper investigators were closing in on President Richard “I am not a crook” Nixon for covering up the Watergate break-in by his operatives. Republican defenders of Nixon described it as merely a third-rate burglary and said investigating it would be a waste of time because nothing illegal or untoward happened.

Obama does seem more Nixonian all the time.

MICHAEL WALSH: The Real Housewives of Benghazi: Will a Sleazy Sex Story Lead the MSM to Obama’s Watergate?

LIBYA UPDATE: Fred Thompson Makes News With Benghazi Comments at AFP Event.

Former Sen. Fred Thompson today said he was “totally disgusted” by the Obama administration’s handling of the Libya terrorist attack, saying that U.S. officials failed to act “while our people were being systematically slaughtered” at the Benghazi consulate.

Speaking at an event sponsored by the free-market group Americans for Prosperity, the former Republican senator from Tennessee invoked his experience nearly 40 years ago as a Watergate investigator, saying that Congress must “get to the bottom of” the administration’s failures in the Sept. 11 incident that left Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans dead in Libya.

“This is probably the biggest cover-up in American history – and you’re talking to an expert in cover-ups,” Thompson said.


JACK KELLY: Benghazi Coverup Much Worse Than “Third-rate Burglary.”

The ride on the Obama bus gets bumpier as more bodies are thrown under it.

The latest to go thumpity thump are journalists who trumpeted the administration’s excuse that faulty intelligence is why the president said for so long the attack on our consulate in Benghazi was a “spontaneous” protest over a Youtube video.

The journalists went under the bus because the Foreign Service and career intelligence officers the administration tried to scapegoat refused to go there. They’ve leaked emails that reveal the White House was informed while it was still going on that the attack was the work of terrorists affiliated with al-Qaida.

To put this in the context of the Mother of All Scandals, these emails are the equivalent of a transcript of what was on the 181/2 minutes of the secret White House tapes President Nixon’s secretary erased.

“What did the president know, and when did he know it?” Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn, asked during the Watergate hearings. The answer in the leaked emails is that the president knew everything, all along. . . . When the “three a.m. phone call” came (at 6:07 p.m. EDT), the president ignored it. The day after learning Ambassador Stevens had been murdered and sensitive intelligence documents were missing, he jetted off to a fundraiser in Las Vegas.

And for nearly two weeks afterward, Mr. Obama and his senior aides blamed the attack on the Youtube video — even though they knew that wasn’t true.

Read the whole thing.

“COULD HURRICANE SANDY SWING THE ELECTION? If Romney wins, is Roe v. Wade toast? Four different theories on why Obama tanked in the first debate? Contemplating a Romney upset in Wisconsin? Benghazi is worse than Watergate….” A Bloggingheads discussion between Bob Wright and me. Highlights include me assuming the brilliance of John Roberts and Bob propounding the old change-of-altitude explanation for Obama’s performance in Debate #1.

ADDED: By the way, my “coastal cities” theory — that Sandy could suppress urban Democratic voting and leverage upstate Republicans — could apply to Wisconsin, where Democratic power is highest in Milwaukee, on the coast of Lake Michigan, where the National Weather Service is saying there could be waves as high as 33 feet.

UPDATE (From Ed): James Pethokoukis of the American Enterprise Institute is also exploring the ways that Sandy could impact the election.

READER DON FERREE WRITES ON BENGHAZI: “I was telling my wife last night about how Arlo wrote a song about Watergate with the line ‘If you didn’t know about that one, then what else don’t you know?’ in it. Well I pulled up the lyrics today and it’s scary how well the song applies to the situation Obama is in now. Not that I hear Arlo singing it now mind you….”

BENGHAZI-GATE:  Frank Miele reminds us that the 1972 re-election of Richard Nixon was due, in part, to an elaborate cover-up of the Watergate break-in that occurred 5 months earlier, in June 1972.  But eventually, Nixon’s involvement was discovered and the American people demanded justice and accountability.  Says Miele:

And now here we are again, with a popular president who may very well win re-election despite the seriousness of the accusations made against him (though certainly by a much smaller margin that President Nixon did). The nation is divided and polarized, just as it was in 1972, and some people cannot bring themselves to think the worst of President Obama, no matter how damning the evidence is.

But one thing is certain. Just as Nixon could not escape the whirlwind of Watergate merely by winning an election, neither will Barack Obama avoid the judgment of history and the American people for what happened the night of Sept. 11, 2012. And as Nixon discovered to his chagrin, sometimes the sword of that judgment is terrible and swift.

Let’s hope the American people see the need for change, even if the full facts of Benghazi-gate aren’t made known until after the election.

UPDATE (FROM GLENN): Some related thoughts from Ann Althouse:

A Romney victory would give us the benefit of leaving the Benghazi scandal in the past. It will still be important to investigate, but it won’t — like the Watergate scandal, after the Nixon re-election — cripple a sitting President.

Another reason for Obama to go.

SAY NO: Will Obama’s Benghazi Cover-up Succeed?

It might be time for folk to call or write their local news outlets with questions about “what happened in Benghazi September 11?” and “why aren’t you more fully reporting the September 11 events in Benghazi?” — that way we can help ensure the cover-up does not succeed.

Remember, no one died in Watergate.

WELL, BUT NOBODY DIED IN WATERGATE: With 2 words, Drudge evokes Watergate for Obama’s Libya troubles.

Related: White House e-mails blow up its Libya cover story.

And why haven’t we heard from General Petraeus?

JOURNALISM: The NYT kept the Libya hearing off the front page because “It’s three weeks before the election and it’s a politicized thing…” “Is the Libya scandal as big as Watergate? The substance of it may be much worse than Watergate, and the Obama administration seems not to have heeded the old Watergate lesson that it’s the cover-up that gets you, but if Obama loses the election, that will limit the dimension of the scandal. If he wins the election — especially if it’s very close or contested in some way — Republicans may work themselves into a frenzy going after Obama. Remember that Richard Nixon was reelected after the Watergate scandal broke. The break-in was 5 months before the election, and the first stories had come out. The next 2 years were hell for Nixon, and he was drummed out of office. And Nixon had won by a landslide.”

From the comments: “Watergate didn’t have a body count.”

UPDATE: Rudy Giuliani: White House ‘trying to cover up this scandal’ in Libya until after election. “The White House … has fumbled this — whether it’s a deliberate cover-up or they’re making it look like a cover-up, they have fumbled the ball four or five times here.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Mockery for the bylined Democratic Party operatives at the Times from reader Mark Miller, who points out:

To suggest that the NY Times kept the Libya hearing off the front page because it was a politicized story is a joke. On November 4, 2000 — the Friday before election day on Tuesday, 11/7/2000 — the GWB DUI arrest in 1976 story was front page news in the NY Times. Was that a politicized story?

Here’s the link to the story. So stay tuned for more . . . journalism!

And here’s the correction/editor’s note appended to the story that makes clear that it was a front page story:

Editors’ Note: November 5, 2000, Sunday A headline yesterday on the continuation of the front-page article about Gov. George W. Bush’s presidential campaign said in some copies that he had stressed integrity ”Even as Drunken-Driving Arrest Raises Questions of Character.” That phrasing exceeded the facts of the article, and its opinionated tone was unintended. A replacement headline went astray in the production process.

My note: what I love about that correction is the last sentence. “A replacement headline went astray in the production process.” Are “replacement headlines” sort of like puppies? They just wander off by themselves? What the hell?

Mock them all you want. They deserve it. I can only imagine what last-minute surprise they’ll try to spring this time. All while pretending that they’re Responsible Journalists and Important Members of the Fourth Estate.

ANOTHER UPDATE: A reader writes:

Remember the great “Missing explosives from Al Qaqaa” scandal during the 2008 campaign?

3000 hits at I don’t remember them avoiding that story because it had been politicized.

Nope. Then there was the bogus McCain-affair-with-a-lobbyist hit piece. And, of course, there was this embarrassing cheap shot from the WaPo.

The election’s three weeks away, and the Dems are falling behind. So stay tuned for more . . . journalism!

MORE: Reader Craig Anderson ventures some predictions:

On your blog today (10/15/2012) you said, “Mock them all you want. They deserve it. I can only imagine what last-minute surprise they’ll try to spring this time.”

Allow me to offer a little help. Here’s what I think you can expect out of the Obama camp and / or their surrogates in the press in the last weeks:

1. Someone will claim that Romney had an affair of some kind. To make it the most salacious possible, they’ll claim it happened while he was a Mormon bishop.

2. He’ll be tied to something they’ll find in Mormon history, probably the Mountain Meadows massacre. They’ll try to smear him with some story from the past, easy to do with all the nonsense printed about the Mormons in the 1830’s – 1860’s.

3. They’ll find some way to pin Romney to some other nefarious thing while we was CEO of Bain. Think the Romney-was-responsible-for-my-wife-dying thing was outlandish, just wait a bit; they’ll come up with something to top it.

4. Something related to his time as governor, which will show that he’s actually planning to turn the country over to his church, or to Israel, or some other scheme to confiscate all the life, liberty and property of every middle class person in America.

Obama himself won’t do it, it will be the PACs, or perhaps even Harry Reid again (particularly if they want to drum up a Mormon-based smearing).

I guarantee that Obama (especially) and his team will find nothing too beneath them to dredge it out and use it for smearing.

And while we’re at it, let’s examine Obama just a little more closely. Obama didn’t initiate the attack on Libya, but he joined it (about 3 weeks late; “leading from behind” they called it; the rest of us call that “following”). He said it would be “weeks, not months”. Yet it ran on for, what, 6 – 8 months? This was a violation of the War Powers Act, which required the president to get the congress’ approval. Shouldn’t Obama have been impeached for violating the law in such an extreme way?

Well, they won’t run stories on that issue. But it’s nice to have an advance copy of the script. . . .


This seems to be a real test of the American media.

They have dined out for decades on the role of the Watergate investigation in removing a president from office as proof of their value in policing the government and holding those in power accountable to the court of public opinion.

Well, it wasn’t exactly easy, but the media didn’t share a lot of ideological views with Nixon, and he didn’t go out of his way to be friends with them. But how much harder must it be now, for the media to be in a position to hold an administration accountable when it contains the people they are simpatico with. How much harder must it be, when they don’t know if the trail will end with Clinton or Obama, frustrating even their internecine bias. How much harder must it be, right before a presidential election?


TRUTH OR CONSEQUENCES: James Taranto in his Best of the Web column on the Left and the L-Word:

What one probably cannot do, however, is be sure that such techniques damage one’s opponents and only them. It’s not as if Obama, for example, never bends the truth, distorts the facts, fudges the numbers, deceives, deludes, hoodwinks, equivocates or misrepresents. Why do lefties imagine that he has the credibility to throw the L-word at Romney?

Further, why do they imagine that it is in the long-term interest of liberalism to engage in such demagogy? As we’ve seen, and as Henninger notes, it’s illiberal in the classic sense:

It dates to the sleazy world of fascist and totalitarian propaganda in the 1930s. It was part of the milieu of stooges, show trials and dupes. These were people willing to say anything to defeat their opposition. Denouncing people as liars was at the center of it. The idea was never to elevate political debate but to debauch it.

Reader Michael Segal traces a thread from a later decade’s America:

My wife remembers an interview with William F. Buckley back in the 1970s, when he predicted that our whole generation that left college after Watergate would shun politics as dirty, and the nation would suffer as a result. Instead, my classmates who were interested in public affairs went into journalism and made it dirty.

Indeed, to coin a phrase. You can see video of James Taranto on the podium at the First Annual Duranty Awards, goofing on Reuters’ coverage of Yoko Ono and Lady Gaga’s “peace” efforts, at the PJ Tatler.

EXCEPT NOBODY DIED AT WATERGATE: Jennifer Rubin on Watergate Redux — “In hearing, the Libya scandal boils over:”

So where is the president? He’s not come forward to explain any of this, although his vice president will be on the hot seat at the debate tomorrow night. After all, Jay Carney’s dissembling, Susan Rice’s misleading TV appearances, and the president’s own assertions, including his Setpember 25 speech to the UN (“a crude and disgusting video sparked outrage throughout the Muslim world”) have left an evidence trail a mile wide.

Whether incompetent or dishonest or a combination of the two, Obama needs to face the American people and be held accountable. And the media, both reporters and pundits, who have tried studiously to downplay or ignore a scandal that in a GOP administration would be compared to Watergate, have their chance to show they are more than apologists for a president whose stature is shrinking by the minute.

Rubin writes for the Washington Post. If only that paper had some experience in exposing presidential scandals…

(Well, Democratic scandals at least.)

UPDATE: Video: Mother of State Dep’t worker killed in Benghazi begs White House to stop stonewalling her.

ROGER SIMON: Benghazi Coverup Worse Than Watergate.

Watergate caught numerous public officials lying, including the president of the United States, but Benghazigate has all that and more.

It involves the terrorist murder (not an electorally irrelevant burglary) of government officials, their reckless endangerment, the undermining of the Bill of Rights and free speech by our own administration in response to Islamist threats, and, ultimately, the complicity of that same administration, consciously or unconsciously, in the downfall of Western civilization.

Meanwhile, the mainstream media function as their more-than-willing accomplices in this downfall, in essence as Obama’s court eunuchs.

Sound excessive?

Hear me out.

Read the whole thing.

UPDATE: A “devastating” coverup timeline.

SO WATERGATE WAS A “HAVE YOU NO DECENCY?” MOMENT, BUT IF THIS IS TRUE, THESE PEOPLE WILL BE HEROES TO A LOT OF DEMOCRATS: Claim: Anonymous group allegedly hacked Romney tax records via TN firm. Of course, how would you establish the authenticity of anything they released? It would be like Frank J. publishing Obama’s college transcripts. Which, by the way, seem to have remained sacrosanct somehow.

Say, remember the Palin email hacking? It’s like these independent-hacker people actually just work for the Democratic Party or something.

UPDATE: In the comments, a suggestion that this is just a cover story: “As many observers have noted, there’s little question the Obama campaign has Romney’s tax returns. That’s illegal, though–they had to have been obtained from the government, which indeed is Nixon territory–so there will have to be some cover story when they are inevitably leaked prior to the election. The Reid nonsense was a start, maybe this is the vehicle.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Quite a few commenters with tax experience say this is bogus. But reader Mark Jones writes:

It’s not just that the so-called hackers could provide cover for releasing Romney’s tax returns obtained (illegally) by the Obama administration. It’s that they could release PHONY returns showing blatantly illegal or unethical actions on Romney’s part and then, when Romney protests, demand that he prove it by releasing the real returns. The “hackers” provide plausible deniability on two levels: First, “We thought they were the real thing”, and second, “Of course we didn’t obtain his records unlawfully. We didn’t even get the real thing!”


MORE: Alex Bensky emails:

There is a point about the Palin e-mail hacking that seems to have escaped attention, even in the blogsphere.

The NY Times recruited something like a hundred volunteers to go over each and every one of the 13,000 e-mails. Some other legacy media also did something like that but I forget who.No need to say that if it had been Kathleen Sebelius or Jennifer Granholm the Times’s approach would have been to complain about the hacking.

If the Times reported the results it did so in a very obscure place and certainly none of the other msm did much to report them. The reason is that of all those e-mails, the worst they could come up with was that she had a hot tub installed in the governor’s residence. Otherwise–and remember she had no speechwriter or teleprompter–she came across as bright, knowledgeable, and articulate. She also showed a real sense of modesty and humility about herself, which is one way she distinguishes herself from President Obama. In other words, the e-mails showed her in a good light. If I were a cynic I’d say that is precisely why the Times didn’t make a big deal of what they found. Probably the reason was that the news columns were filled with more important stories such as why, such as a pronouncement on politics by Cher.


MORE STILL: Reader Brian Alleman offers a correction: “The MSM hired all of the extra people for when the state of Alaska released the email records from palin’s administration not the hack.”

ENEMIES LISTS: From Nixon to Obama. “For those of use who lived through Watergate, it must be at least slightly surprising how little attention Strassel’s columns have drawn. . . . The mainstream media are of course missing in action. An election is looming and if it weren’t for double standards they wouldn’t have any at all.”

Yeah, if you wonder how Watergate would have played out under a Democratic President, well, wonder no more.

THE REAL MEANING OF DOG-GATE: “It’s amazing how the aptly named ‘Army of Davids’ is able to use the Internet and social media to run with a theme and dominate the popular imagination. We may be seeing the end of an era dominated by ability of Leftist comedians like Jon Stewart, Bill Maher or the cast of SNL to create a false image of a political figure. Perhaps the trashing of Sarah Palin was the high point of their power, just as Watergate was for the MSM. Ridicule is the most potent political weapon. Obama is rapidly looking less and less like a President and more and more like an inept pol who’s also something of a doofus.”

PROF. W. JOSEPH CAMPBELL: Why The Murdoch Scandal Is No Watergate. What it is, in the United States, is media battlespace preparation, trying to neutralize Fox News between now and the 2012 election. In Britain, it’s also about ensuring the reduction of alternative power centers.

UPDATE: Reader Steve Eimers writes:

I find the phone hacking allegations deeply disturbing and hope if true those guilty will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. I do think the anger is a bit fake though. POTUS Obama just nominated Richard Cordray to lead the new consumer bureau. This is the same guy who used taxpayer dollars to defend partisan democrat appointees who illegally accessed Ohio state databases in an effort to dig up dirt on Joe ‘the plumber.’

Good point.

BRIT HUME: The Obama DOJ reminds me of nothing so much as the Nixon Justice Department. “You have the scent of high-level knowledge of serious wrongdoing and you have the smell of cover-up and I think the stench of cover-up on this gun-running operation is very strong indeed.”

UPDATE: A reader says the Watergate comparison is entirely unfair — to Nixon’s people:

Fast & Furious is a Nixonian Cover-up? AFAIK no one died because G. Gordon Liddy broke into Watergate. And at least AG Elliot Richardson and Asst AG William Ruckelshaus had the decency to resign when faced with firing Archibald Cox. This lot doesn’t bat an eye at firing an inconvenient Inspector General or honest public servant. I think we can comfortably state that the current administration is more ethically impaired then Richard Nixon’s.


GUNWALKER GOES PRAVDA? White House Unleashes MSM. “The Post prints an attack on Issa that no other paper saw fit to run: an anonymous hit job concocted by the Obama administration. And the Times finally talks Gunwalker … by attacking the GOP. With a debunked lie.”

UPDATE: From the comments: “If the media was this in the tank for the Nixon Admin, we never would have heard of Watergate. History would have been way different.” Yeah, seeing how they handle a lot of these stories has made me reevaluate what I think I know about a lot of recent history.

ED DRISCOLL: Follow the truthiness.

Related: Obama was to the Democrats what Watergate was to the Republicans.

THE MISSING GATES: Reader John Koisch makes an interesting observation:

For as long as I can recall, the media dubbed everything scandalous a “gate” of some sort after the famous Watergate. So we had Watergate, Contragate, and of course the blogosphere had Rathergate, and so on.

I can’t recall a single “xxxgate” since Obama came to office, at least not in common parlance.

On the one hand, it is welcome relief from a tired meme. But on the other, I wonder if the lack of Londongate, Stupakgate, Oilgate, Golfgate, [the democrat who was anti-abortion and wouldn’t vote for the healthcare bill, but did anyway once he got a hug from Obama]gate, Tarpgate, and so on indicates some sort of complicity amongst the MSM?

It strikes me odd.

Hmm. It’s not as if there haven’t been scandals. . . .

UPDATE: Several readers suggest “Profli-Gate” as the catch-all description for this Administration . . .

THE GREAT TEA-BAIT: Heath Shuler didn’t hear the N-word. “It may be the most celebrated missing recording since Watergate: the nonexistent or unaccounted-for video of the tea-party protesters at the Capitol who three black congressmen claim yelled racial slurs at them on March 20, the eve of ObamaCare’s enactment. . . . “


Now that White House “Green Jobs Czar” Van Jones has resigned, what’s next?

Inevitably, the American mainstream media – ABC, NBC, CBS, the New York Times, the Washington Post, Time, Newsweek, et al – must be held to account for sitting on the sidelines as this major story kept building without them, went viral on YouTube, and then became so large that a key appointee of President Obama was forced to step down.

But with their decision to ignore the Jones story, they may have actually done Mr. Obama far more harm than good: Who vetted this guy? How did he get past the FBI? What did he say, and how did he answer the infamous seven-page questionnaire that all Obama appointees were required to fill out? Inquiring Freedom of Information Act minds want to know.

For most people in this country, the resignation was the first they had heard of Van Jones. For this sin of journalistic omission, there’s institutional media blame. Bias is too tame a word for the utter shamelessness on display: Only Republican scandals – real and imagined – matter.

And it’s not just those the Democratic-Media Complex dub as “mobs” or “tea baggers” that are taking notice. Diminishing audience and evaporating subscribership reflect widespread consumer dissatisfaction. Eventually, the money will run out. . . . All eyes are on the media. We are judging them by the standard they taught us during Watergate: “The cover-up is worse than the crime.”

What other major stories are they missing — or sitting on? Stay tuned . . . .

UPDATE: A reader emails:

Well, there’s:
—the public pension tsunami headed our way
—the funneling of billions to ACORN, union pals, etc. to be used to fund the Democratic Party
—the stated intent to create 650,000 additional government jobs in the next 4 years
—the almost-universal collapse of unionized sectors (including governments)
—vote fraud—in all its various forms
—corruption in the bureaucracy (not one SEC bureaucrat was fired over the Madoff debacle)
—fraud in Medicaid, Medicare, workers comp, etc. (they could run a story every day)

That’s just off the top of my head. Given time I could come up with dozens of other examples where they miss the big story.

Yeah, that’s just scratching the subject. I think a good investigative journalist could do a lot more.

WRONG QUESTION: Leonard Downie asks Could we uncover Watergate today? The real question, given the way the press covered for John Edwards, Barack Obama, et al. is whether the press would cover a Watergate if it happened under a Democratic administration.

INSTA-POLL: Reader Chris Woods emails: “Is Yahoo Mail the new Watergate Hotel? So now we have a story of some apparently low-level political operatives conducting a clandestine break-in designed to embarrass a political opponent during an election cycle. Is Barack Obama therefore about to become the new Nixon (I mean without the foreign policy competence)?” Well, what do you think?

How big a story is the Palin email hacking incident?
A 21st century Watergate!
Not much
A mere juvenile prank
I’m voting “present” on this one free polls

UPDATE: Reader Walter Boxx emails: “I can’t vote in your Palin email account poll because you left off the only sensible answer. It is a serious issue (not Watergate though) but it will be treated like a juvenile prank by the press. In a day or two it will be off the news.” Yeah, if Obama’s mail had been hacked it would be treated as an outrage and a sign of the growing thuggishness of political discourse, with demands for heads to roll — and, notwithstanding his representations otherwise, I don’t think Nick Denton would have run it, because he would have feared the consequences. But this is different, because Sarah Palin is a Republican.

NASHVILLE TENNESSEAN: State rep confirms that son is subject of Palin e-mail chatter. A UT-Knoxville student, no less. Should’ve studied harder . . . .

UPDATE: Do journalists care about your privacy if you aren’t a terrorist? “Here we have an actual invasion of an American citizen’s privacy, and what is the press’s attitude? If the AP is representative (and given its organizational structure, it should be), it is to regard ‘questions about the propriety’ of the victim as more important than the invasion of privacy itself.” That depends. Had Obama’s email been hacked by a Republican, it would be Watergate all over again. . . .

ANOTHER UPDATE: Gerard van der Leun argues for mercy.

Plus, a reader emails: “Could you at least mention that he is a democrat, because no one else will?”

The Tennessean story does. And so does this story from the Knoxville News-Sentinel.