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Obama’s troubles aren’t comparable to ‘Watergate’

5/21/2013, 10 a.m.
George Curry

Schieffer, who covered Watergate for CBS, should know better. And so should Peggy Noonan, a former White House speechwriter for Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

On NBC’s Meet The Press, Peggy Noonan defended her May 17 Wall Street Journal column in which she claimed that we “are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate.” When host David Gregory pressed her, Noonan said, “This IRS thing is something I’ve never seen in my lifetime.”

But the Boston Globe noted last Friday, “As startling as the reports have been in recent days – from the IRS targeting of conservative groups to the Justice Department seizing phone records of the Associated Press – one Nixonian element so far is missing: There has been no evidence that Obama himself ordered or knew about the actions.”

John Dean, White House counsel during the Nixon administration, told the newspaper, “I find the comparison – that whoever is making the analysis is challenged in their understanding of history.” He said, “There are no comparisons. They’re not comparable with any of the burgeoning scandals.”

The Globe observed, “And Dean is in a position to know. Nearly 41 years ago, Dean was with Nixon in the Oval Office on a Friday afternoon when the president wondered aloud about utilizing the powers of the IRS to target his political opponents.”

Carl Bernstein, one of the Washington Post reporters who broke the Watergate story, told Politico: “In the Nixon White House, we heard the president of the United States on tape saying ‘Use the IRS to get back on our enemies.’ We know a lot about President Obama, and I think the idea that he would want the IRS used for retribution – we have no evidence of any such thing.”