Carl Cannon: Obama and Nixon Not That Far Apart

Monday, 20 May 2013 12:34 PM

By Melanie Batley

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RealClearPolitics Washington Editor Carl Cannon says despite efforts to distance President Barack Obama from comparisons to former President Richard Nixon, the two "have more in common than either man's devotees might imagine."

In a column Monday, Cannon said the "parallel" between Obama and Nixon is they both allowed "truth to become a casualty" of their administrations, and both treated the media with contempt.

"Nixon's 'enemies,' at least in his mind, also included vast swathes of the Fourth Estate. That apparently is how the current president operates, too," Cannon wrote.

He added, "In their Manichean world, there are liberal news organizations (good) and conservative outlets (bad). Some of the news business does work this way -- more than when Nixon was president, for sure -- but what Obama and his political advisers and White House press handlers have done is graft their own hyper-partisanship onto the media."

Cannon said the Obama administration and the White House press office have had a partisan-fueled approach to the press, much the way Nixon did.

"In the Obama administration, it's not uncommon for a White House press official to scream profanely over the phone at journalists whose stories they dislike, plant questions from friendly media outlets, and deny access to briefings to reporters who ask tough questions," he said.

"This administration has aggressively used the Justice Department to ferret out news leaks, declared open season on a media organization out of sync with this philosophy (Fox News), and routinely questioned the professionalism of reporters, and the patriotism of the opposition political party. That disquieting sound you hear is an echo from the Nixon years."

He added that the recent controversies surrounding the IRS, Benghazi, and the seizure of Associated Press phone records all share a "common thread" in that the administration approaches domestic as well as foreign affairs in a political and partisan way, while casting aspersions on the moral character of political foes with the intent of destroying them, a hallmark of Nixon's political approach.

"This Nixon-esque attitude constitutes a toxic brew: whining, boasting, and name-calling all overlaid with persecution-complex and a profound contempt for his opponents -- along with a determination to make them pay."

"We don't know if Obama or his minions also keep enemies lists, if only in their heads. But we do know that they view the media with the same with-us-or-against-us mentality that Nixon fostered. And though that attitude can help win elections, it surely impedes good governance," Cannon said.

He concluded, "Richard Nixon thought liberals were out to get him. Guess what? Many of them were. Likewise, Barack Obama thinks the Republicans want him to fail in office. Many of them do. But it's a poor excuse for bad behavior."

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