This Liberal’s Beef right now has got to be the abject stupidity and short-term memory failure of anyone who thinks that Benghazi-gate, IRS-gate and AP-gate, even if stacked on top of one another and then super-sized, come close to the original “gate”; the Big Kahuna; the Mother Lode of “gates”; the “gate” of course being the obligatory suffix ever since the biggest “gate” of them all: Watergate.
No matter how much the media may blather on and on about them, none of these scandals has the mass, the cultural, political and social ponderosity of Watergate. These are all skirmishes in an age of “gotcha” polarization. All of these even added together is like comparing recent cruise ship snafus to the sinking of the Titanic.
Watergate was no t a minor skirmish, even if some Republicans at the time and still today characterize it as such. Even if they continually try to re-write history; even if they wish with all their might it were so; it was a gigantic, complex metaphor for a country mired in extremism – which is why it still dwarfs every other wannabe “gate.”
The fact that Republicans, of all people, should wail and wallow in their feigned outrage is more a testament to their own level of acceptable skullduggery than anything else. Bill O’Reilly’s emphasis on “shaaaaayyyyddddeeeeee” which he so eloquently expressed on Fox’s Fabulous Five (The Five) would be laughable if so many gap-toothed, hubcap collectors didn’t hang on every word uttered by the cadre of propaganda-spreaders on this sad joke of a news outlet. Nothing short of selling the oval office to the Koch Brothers or Al Queada could top the sheer number of actual Republicans’ number of treasonous acts.
Bear in mind, this is the same Republican Party that has single-handedly made the word “Patriot” sound derogatory.
This is the same Republican Party that allowed the Twin Towers to be felled, used it as an excuse to wage war on a country that had nothing to do with that atrocity, and then sent Condoleeza Rice to lie to the U.N. with tales of Mushroom Clouds to fool (or scare)the rest of the free world into buying into their neo-con bullshit!
This is the same Republican party that screams cover-up over Benghaaaaaziiiiiiii and Joe McCarthys another “Rice”, Susan Rice, who merely repeated some talking points on a bad Sunday morning talk show where a consulate attack took place and a great, but ill-advised ambassador-who refused extra protection on two previous occasions-tragically died.
The biggest screw-ups of the last 50 years have happened under Republican Administrations. Of course, there’s Watergate. Then the Republicans had the actor (Ronny Ray-gun) who did a fabulous job of “acting” like a Republican (and a President) but taxed and spent more than any Democrat in history. And of course there’s the big daddy of all screw-ups, the entire administration of he-who-shall-not-be-named during campaigns, NOR INVITED TO THE PARTY’S NATIONAL CONVENTIONS–George W. Bush.
Besides allowing the Twin Towers to fall while he read cartons to children, this twit started two illegal wars under false pretenses and couldn’t finish either one. To top it off, he funded these personal vendettas by stealing from Social Security, and managed to leave office right about the time his stupid policies totally crashed the economy; worse than any other since the Great Depression. So how do the Republicans respond? They play Who Can Obstruct the White House the most, and extol austerity while Europe is dying under the same failed experiment. Now THAT’S a party that knows how to kill a country.
They’re like a clique of mean girls in high school who come from rich families but still feel the need to hurl insults and lies at the smart, funny, or different kids.
They’re like Biff in Back to the Future who just couldn’t win the girl by hook or by crook despite having all the advantages. All he could muster was calling McFly stupid names and bullying his way around in the hopes that it would sufficiently scare anyone else who might think about crossing his path. But like Biff, it’s the Republicans who always end up running into the back of a truck carrying horse manure and getting a mouthful of it.
Watergate: Epic Drama—Benghazi: A Sad Short Story
Metaphors function much like art, and you might consider Watergate not as a scandal but as a gigantic film “event”. Not some summer blockbuster, either, but as America’s epic noir. Film noir was a genre that began in the late 1940s, when America was forced to confront the darkness within itself after World War II. “Film noir” translates into “black film,” and the noir movies of the time were literally and figuratively dark. They involved fraud, corruption, deceit, depraved indifference and the impending putrification of the American soul – capturing the angst and paranoia of the Cold War era.
Similarly, even before the Watergate scandal led to Nixon’s resignation, there was a cluster of films that, like those earlier noir movies, tapped into the national bloodstream and addressed a larger sense of American corruption. Chinatown was just such a movie. It brilliantly established the feeling of the national imbalance and unease that preceded Watergate.
But however great Chinatown is, the most powerful metaphors are those that happen in real life; not in Technicolor on celluloid film.
That was Watergate – a prototypical noir. It was the implementation of the long-brewing suspicions that something vital, something essential in America had gone horribly wrong – that our once honorable institutions had failed; that our leaders were illusory and self-serving, and, perhaps above all, our idealism had soured into something stinky.
Just as the original noirs exploded from overwhelming national postwar gloominess, Watergate was situated at the intersection of a host of disconcerting forces that it drew energy from and then reflected back at the populace. This was particularly true of the Vietnam War, which continued to fester despite Nixon’s election campaign promise to end it.
The Vietnam War served as the intermission for Watergate. It was itself a gigantic metaphor for doubts about American power and morality, as well as a continuing graphic of “credibility gaps” in government information…the Military lies about the number of American soldiers killed…the lies about The Domino Theory, (much like the Mushroom Cloud theory?).
The cynicism and derision it provoked may have been central in lighting the pyre that became the Watergate monstrosity.
In addition to the fight over Vietnam–and at the same time fueled by it– there was a domestic war erupting between generations. There was palpable, conspicuous conflict between Nixon’s “silent majority”of middle class American parents and their teenage children who were rebelling against their forced servitude in that senseless, irrational, gruesome war, in which the U.S. again lost despite it’s vastly superior arsenal of WMDs. It lost, despite laying waste to entire civilian villages with liquid fire (napalm) and “Agent Oranging” entire forests.
To this day, veterans of Vietnam suffer horrible side effects–like leukemia and other severe respiratory ailments– from these lethal herbicides used to de-forest the battle zones that were nothing more than hills. Watergate was a battle over the nation’s contemptible, ill-conceived, faux values, which Vietnam generally and Nixon specifically seemed to embody: values that privileged the rich and the abject materialism it promoted, while simultaneously denigrating the poor as lazy, or drains on society rather than victims of bad policies and self-serving, rather than public-serving politicians.
Both the war and the cultural divide contributed to doubts about U.S. institutions, especially government, that went a long way toward amplifying Watergate, the drama in which these doubts festered and expanded. It was as if, long before the Watergate break-in, the country was seized by a fog of uncertainty about itself and its direction.
If Watergate Was A Tsunami—Benghazi Is A Ripple In A Quiet Pond
If Watergate had the grandest of backdrops, it also had the most stark personae – personae right out of the unshakable darkness of noir. Nixon was Shakespearean in his proportions – a genuine American Richard III. He was the president of umbrage, personifying middle America’s populist resentment against the elite Eastern Kennedy-esque establishment. That meant that Watergate was hatched not, as most garden-variety scandals are, by greed or lust for power or even stupidity – such as IRS-gate. Watergate, like noir, was hatched in the deepest pits of paranoia – namely, Nixon’s paranoia that his social betters were out to get him, to deny him the honor he was due – and he had to get them first.
Watergate was the scandal of retribution. Benghazi was a tragic tale of good intentions that ended badly.
Nixon’s own grandiose and theatrical narrative helped his claims that he was hounded by the “liberal” media and various liberal antagonists in Congress. It also helped the Watergate “production” by unfolding on television’s nightly news and in newspapers across the country. Every night at 6:00 p.m., there he was, the weasely and clandestine Nixon , being investigated by the sly, yet unsophisticated Senator Sam Ervin of North Carolina, who headed the Senate Watergate committee.
The contrast could not have been more severe. Nixon was dark and hooded, always uncomfortable in his own skin – an ideal noir villain. Ervin was the stereotypical country lawyer, his bushy, white eyebrows prancing like Ann Romney’s dressage show horse as he slowly asked questions, his sentence structure seeming to dawdle while he stealthily, surrounded his witness, like a snake playing with his mouse before tiring of the game and swallowing it with one speed-of-light flick of its tongue.
Nixon vs. Ervin was gripping theater that reached grand operatic dimensions as Nixon and his gang of thugs and racketeers–H.R. Haldeman John Ehrlichman, Nixon’s Attorney General George Mitchell, foot soldier G. Gordon Liddy–all intertwined themselves in ever larger webs of deceit, slush funds , aptly name CREEP(Committee to Re-Elect the President) run by Nixon’s United States Attorney General, (before they were ridiculously legalised by Antonin Scalia under Citizen’s United), treason and treachery while Ervin calmly and methodically dissected each witness while appearing like the definition of homespun, grassroots profundity. It was a compelling sequence of events: a master manipulator undone by a Southern cornpone Columbo—live and in color in every waiting room or Sears electronics department; every TruValue Hardware store with a makeshift television stand of Coca-Cola crates; on every desktop or car radio.
This was a scandal that satisfied the national desire for a large, complex metaphor for the angst, turbulence, uncertainty of motives and downright disappointments of the post-Kennedy years of hope and enlightenment.
Billy Beer-gate, Iran/Contra-gate, Lewinsky-blue dress-gate and now these three puny, petty, race-based Obama-gates are like teevee episodes of a badly-acted soap opera– not theater. These so-called “scandals” are not only small in their respective narratives but also in their themes. If they tap into anything, they tap into petty vindictiveness of losers who cannot bring themselves to admit they lost. Like deep south traitors who to this day cannot admit that the Civil War WAS about slavery and treason, not some misplaced heritage or pride in a way of life; these are despicably small political and ideological divides because Republicans cannot believe they’ve legitimately and fairly lost twice to a Harvard-educated black man.
Watergate tapped into the entire American psyche. The Obama-gates are being touted and peddled by small minds who pretend to believe what they’re paid to say.
The reason that these other wannabe scandals seem so insignificant next to Watergate is because they are insignificant compared to Watergate.