In a new poll from Public Policy Polling, 74 percent of Republicans polled said they think the actions of the Obama administration during the crisis in Benghazi were worse than Watergate. The results, however, might be taken with a grain of salt as half of that 74 percent appear to have no idea whatsoever where -- or even what -- Benghazi is. According to the poll, "10 percent think it's in Egypt, 9 percent in Iran, 6 percent in Cuba, 5 percent in Syria, 4 percent in Iraq, and 1 percent each in North Korea and Liberia with 4 percent not willing to venture a guess."
While those folks review their old high school geography textbooks, they might also wish to reserve a little time to answer the question: What was Watergate?
One possible answer -- an apartment/hotel complex in Washington, D.C., not far from the Kennedy Center -- will not help much. Neither will an almost equally concise -- but narrowly true -- answer: the break-in that occurred at 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 1972 at Democratic headquarters by a bunch of crooks hired by Richard Nixon's cronies. Perhaps, given one of those definitions, the events related to Benghazi will turn out to be worse, though this remains an open question at best. But if we take the word "Watergate" to mean what nearly everyone has understood it to mean for the past four decades -- the series of crimes discovered as a result of said break-in at the complex -- then it becomes rather difficult to justify even mentioning the two in the same sentence.
One can find thousands of books on the topic -- and tens of thousands of scholarly articles. But on the 40th anniversary of the Watergate break-in last year, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein -- the Washington Post reporters who originally broke the story -- outlined the main elements of the multiple scandals and crimes that led to President Nixon's forced resignation. Space precludes a full recounting of their article, "40 years after Watergate, Nixon was far worse than we thought," but among the lowlights were:
- President Nixon personally approved a plan that authorized the CIA, FBI, and military-intelligence units to intensify electronic surveillance of individuals identified as "domestic security threats." It also allowed the interception of mail, and unauthorized break-ins by government agents of the homes of law-abiding citizens.
It's been 40 years since Watergate, and members of the insider media are apparently allergic to all forms of historical knowledge, especially when it means putting contemporary "scandals" in the context of those in the past....
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