Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

May 23, 2013

Scout Report: Opening the floodgates

By Clinton Gill
Glade Sun editor

CROSSVILLE — Forty years ago, this week, in the beginning of the summer of '73, the trial of the infamous Watergate scandal involving President Richard Nixon began. Those proceedings unfurled a betrayal of public trust that forever changed our nation.

What warranted the most powerful man in the world to become the only president in American history to resign the office? Some of the most important details are listed below in the Articles of Impeachment:

"Article I – In his conduct of the office of President of the United States, Richard M. Nixon, in violation of his constitutional oath faithfully to execute the office of President of the United States and, to the best of his ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States, and in violation of his constitutional duty to take care that the laws be faithfully executed, has prevented, obstructed, and impeded the administration of justice, in that:

On June 17, 1972 agents of the Committee for the Re-election of the President committed unlawful entry of the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee for the purpose of securing political intelligence. Subsequent thereto, Richard M. Nixon, using the powers of his high office, engaged personally and through his agents, in a course of conduct designed to delay, impede, and obstruct the investigation of such illegal entry; to cover up, conceal and protect those responsible; and to conceal the existence and scope of other unlawful covert activities.

Article II – [he] has repeatedly engaged in conduct violating the constitutional rights of citizens, impairing the due and proper administration of justice and the conduct of lawful inquiries .... He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service ... confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposes not authorized by law, and to cause ... income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner. He misused ... executive personnel by directing or authorizing ... electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; He has failed to take care that the laws were faithfully executed by failing to act when he knew or had reason to know that his close subordinates endeavoured to impede and frustrate lawful inquiries by duly constituted executive, judicial and legislative entities concerning the unlawful entry into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee, and the cover-up thereof, and concerning other unlawful activities.

Article III – [he] has failed without lawful cause or excuse to produce papers and things as directed by duly authorized subpoenas issued by the Committee on the Judiciary of the House of Representatives and willfully disobeyed such subpoenas. In refusing to produce these papers and things Richard M. Nixon, substituting his judgment as to what materials were necessary for the inquiry, interposed the powers of the Presidency against the the lawful subpoenas of the House of Representatives, thereby assuming to himself functions and judgments necessary to the exercise of the sole power of impeachment vested by the Constitution in the House of Representatives.

In all of this, Richard M. Nixon has acted in a manner contrary to his trust as President and subversive of constitutional government, to the great prejudice of the cause of law and justice and to the manifest injury of the people of the United States. Wherefore Richard M. Nixon, by such conduct, warrants impeachment and trial, and removal from office."

The details of the most notorious scandal in American history read like today's headlines. At its core, the scandal was an effort to reelect the president .... and the election wasn't even close. Nixon handily won 61 percent of the popular vote and 520 Electoral College votes.

The truth is McGovern was a radical who never had any chance of winning, but that was not the real issue. At one time, everybody used to believe what the government said – as a result of Watergate, that trust remains only in the extremely naive or the incredibly gullible. Watergate forever changed how the American people viewed politics. Skepticism of the government is a long-held hallmark of American society and a necessary affliction of a constitutional republic; but in the past, that mistrust was always in the institutions, not so much in the office holders themselves. Watergate sewed the seed of mistrust in the individual, and an overall sense of cynicism about government. The scandal made the stuff of politics a by–word, the result forever left a bad taste, like soap in our mouths. It changed the American people but, more significantly, it changed journalism.

Let's not forget, the Watergate scandal only became nationally significant because of the Washington Post's lead to push it; they were spotlight operators who created a myth of legend.

In his book "Watergate in American Memory," Sociologist Michael Schudson wrote: "A mythology of the press in Watergate developed into a significant national myth, a story that independently carries on a memory of Watergate even as details about what Nixon did or did not do fade away. At its broadest, the myth of journalism in Watergate asserts that two young Washington Post reporters brought down the president of the United States. This is a myth of David and Goliath, of powerless individuals overturning an institution of overwhelming might. It is high noon in Washington, with two white-hatted young reporters at one end of the street and the black-hatted president at the other, protected by his minions. And the good guys win. The press, truth its only weapon, saves the day."

Watergate was an epiphany for liberals. After witnessing the power of the media to drive public opinion, journalists began to use the news to manipulate rather than inform. The profession  became a magnet for power hungry leftists who use that power to promote the candidates of their choice and destroy the opposition. Ever since Nixon's resignation, the media has worn callouses on Americans' sense of civic duty by bringing every sordid detail of public officials' lives into the fray, whether or not those details are relevant. Good people stay out of politics because they don't want every mistake they've ever made to become a matter of public discussion.

New York Times' columnist David Brooks suggested this week that the country is addicted to scandal.

“Watergate really was a scandal, but we now have a lot of people who try to use scandal to settle policy differences by other means, who take mini-scandals and try to use them to get some policy edge or a political edge,” he said. “And I actually think we as a country have become over-addicted to scandal as a way to destroy other people.”

He has a point; Watergate was so significant that there can't be a scandal without someone attaching the "-gate" suffix to it. It makes you wonder if moral decay has made scandals more prevalent, or if it was always there but not reported. Wikipedia currently lists more than 115 "-gate" scandals – some serious, some silly. I would have to add that, like an alcoholic, our society has built up a tolerance to politicians who misbehave and exceed the powers granted by the Constitution. Though the articles of impeachment against Nixon list using the IRS against people, he never actually did it. President Obama has actually done in public what Nixon only dreamed about in private. The difference is that Nixon was a Republican.

That's an important detail because what everyone seems to have forgotten, and what the media continues to whitewash, is that Watergate was the liberal media pushing back against a Republican administration. I'm not suggesting that what Nixon did wasn't wrong; I just can't help but wonder if he had been a Democrat if he would've come under the same scrutiny. Can we rely on the liberal media to prosecute one of their own? Evidence would suggest we cannot. The Benghazi and IRS scandals, among the many others that have hatched in the last five years, expose the media just as much as the administration.

Ever since these scandals broke, the administration has been trying to distance Obama from any wrong doing. These scandals have been in the works for months, years even. You would think they could've come up with better excuses. This just demonstrates the huberis with which this administration operates.

Regardless of whether Obama has any direct involvement, which only the blindest of partisans would argue to the contrary, these things are being done in his favor. This is the product of his leadership. Bureaucracy is characterized by endless rules and regulations; formality and routine are required before official action can be taken. The actions taken against conservative organizations and donors had to have come from the top. And the most terrifying thing about this scandal is that the revelations came from the administration. This admonition was done to intimidate donors and it was done so without fear of any reprisal. Congressmen can talk about impeachment proceedings all they want, but the fact of the matter is that the Democrat-controlled Senate is tasked with trying the proceedings. Though it is very much warranted, impeachment is not likely. The power of the IRS is the power to destroy – it has become weaponized, and as such should be dissolved ... but it won't be.

This should be an opportunity for liberals and conservatives to come together against abuses of power. Instead, the liberals have taken to downplay and defend. You must ask yourself then if this is a much deeper issue, if this is systemic rather than an isolated series of events. The claim that Obama had nothing to do with these scandals does not recuse his culpability; rather, what it says is that the government is saturated with people that are just like him – people who don't need instruction in their quest to oppress the opposition. An army of radicals, sleeper cells, have been waiting in the ranks for a leader. Obama has created a toxically partisan environment through his policies and rhetoric, and has essentially declared war on conservatives. This "guerrilla warfare" is the very face of tyranny.

In football, when your team commits a penalty, the rules demand that the ball is walked back so many yards. No fan likes to see their team penalized, but without rules, there is no game. When it becomes apparent that the game is rigged, people get angry ... eventually they get violent. That's where we're headed as a nation if this government doesn't get walked back in size and scope. What we're witnessing could be the Superbowl to end all Superbowls.

The president has demonstrated beyond reasonable doubt that he cannot be trusted. His leadership has failed. If he had a shred of Nixon's integrity, for the sake of the nation, he would resign. "Given the controversy surrounding this audit, it's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward." – Barack Obama