Many find President Trump’s unfounded accusations that former President Obama tapped his phone appalling. He’s been making reckless accusations on Twitter that his Trump Towers wires were tapped right before he won office.
Sounds like the Nixon Watergate affair all over again. Both believers and critics are calling it Obamagate.
Watergate is a term made famous after the June 17, 1972 arrest of Republican operatives for burglarizing Democratic National Committee headquarters. They were located at the Watergate Hotel. It soon became clear these political gangster were operating on behalf of the re-election campaign of President Nixon.
Some believed Nixon knew about it. Others didn’t. But, by his August 1974 resignation, it was obvious he was guilty.
Let’s look at this from a logical perspective…
In order for Trump’s claims to be true, you’d have to believe that Obama, a man just weeks from the end of office as president, cared about sabotaging Trump’s candidacy.
You’d have to believe that Obama was stupid enough to boldly risk his freedom and reputation by using illegal surveillance to help Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton win the presidency.
Just doesn’t seem logical.
The scandal’s timeline is important. The key reason Nixon’s top aides resorted to thuggery and dirty tricks — including the White House special counsel, Chuck Colson, and John Mitchell, the only ex-U.S. attorney general ever sent to prison — was to help the President get re-elected in 1972.
Victory was by no means assured. Upon taking office in 1969, Nixon inherited an unpopular, unwinnable war in Vietnam; a civil rights movement making increasingly militant demands for equality; and a restless, hostile counter-cultural movement of young people, Chicanos, women and gays.
Democrats controlled both houses of Congress, and in the 1970 midterm elections increased their majority in the House of Representatives by 12 seats while picking up 10 governorships. As late as April 1972, Sen. Ed Muskie, a Democrat, was leading Nixon in the polls by 47% to 39%.
That’s the biggest difference between the actual Watergate scandal and Trump’s imaginary modern analogue. In 1971-72, Nixon was battling for his political life against long odds, inspiring desperate criminal actions by his staff.