Democratic presidencies dating back to 1970 have produced exactly one criminal conviction from investigations into the administration. Republican presidencies have had a total of 91.
It is worth taking a second to let that sink in: three Democratic presidents. Six Republican presidents. Ninety-one convictions to one.
If you look at criminal indictments, not just convictions, its not a prettier picture: GOP Presidencies had 124 criminal indictments. Democrats had 3. This data comes from a table helpfully shared by PBS.
Yes, you read it correctly: Democrats have less total indictments since 1970 than Donald Trump does since taking office this year. And less convictions: 2-1.
Prison sentences? Also no help: 14 for GOP Presidencies, one for Democratic ones.
You can’t make this kind of stuff up. If you heard it in House of Cards, you wouldn’t believe it.
In fact, for GOP Presidents who served two terms, the smallest number of criminal convictions was 16: a tie between Ronald Reagan and George W Bush. Nixon had 55.
Importantly, the two GOP Presidents with low conviction numbers were Gerald Ford – who was only president for 2 years and cleaned up for Watergate – and Bush Sr, who was a one-term President and was Vice President during Reagan’s terms.
In fact, the GOP Presidencies were so scandal-ridden that each President is associated with a known criminal scandal that has lived through history: Nixon for Watergate, Reagan for Iran Contra, and Bush for Iraq, Katrina, and Valarie Plame.
What all of this means is that we have to stop writing articles talking about how the GOP started to become corrupt sometime in 2015. That’s simply not true. Donald Trump is keeping up with a tried and true pattern of Republican presidencies: scandals and convictions. Indeed, in his 55 convictions, Nixon doesn’t even get any points for his worst criminal act: sabotaging Vietnam peace negotiations in 1968 to get himself elected and costing tens of thousands of American lives.
For Republican presidents, the rot runs deep. You have to go back to Eisenhower to find a GOP President not associated with a crime of historic proportions. And, before him, the last Republican presidents were those of the famously corrupt 1920s. Warren Harding anyone?
To truly change, Republicans have to confront this reality. They haven’t ever been the party of true conservative ethics and restraint. And they never can be, unless they accept that and start new.