Alternate title: A Tale of Two White House Scandals
The last few days some of you Republicans have been using the “I” word. Bad move. If you really want to maximize the political damage from the events last year in Benghazi, less is more. Focus on the truth and let the public decide the outcome.
Let’s look at two second-term scandals that altered two presidential administrations.
The first is Watergate, the granddaddy of modern political scandals. In 1972 Richard Nixon won the most lopsided electoral victory ever. Less than two years later he resigned in disgrace.
The actual Watergate burglary took place in June 1972, several months before the election. But as the sordid truth dripped out in the years that followed, public support for Nixon dropped as Congressional Democrats methodically peeled away the layers of deception and corruption.
I remember Watergate. I was twelve when it started and fourteen when Nixon resigned. Initially the media was reluctant to cover it but the truth was too powerful to ignore. The Senate Watergate hearings were compelling theater.
Fast-forward about 20-25 years. There were Republicans talking about impeachment before Bill Clinton even took the oath of office. After numerous official and unofficial investigations into every aspect of Bill and Hillary’s public and private lives, they got proof that Bill lied about getting a hummer while under oath in a civil deposition.
When the smoke cleared Slick Willie was still standing and Newt Gingrich was unemployed. If the GOP had been able to exercise some self-restraint Bill might have been forced to resign. Instead they behaved like a lynch mob.
Regarding Benghazi, the GOP needs to focus on getting the facts out into the public sphere. Last Wednesday’s committee hearing was a good start. Don’t speechify, speculate or bloviate. Avoid tinfoil at all costs. DO NOT USE THE “I” WORD!!! Stick to the evidence and let people draw their own conclusions.
Behave like a nonpartisan who is only interested in finding the truth. Then let nature take its course. Will it end in a resignation or impeachment? Highly unlikely. But if you handle it right it will help you in the next couple elections.
Here is the key: The harder you push, the less effective the results. I know that seems counterintuitive but it’s true.