Lots of comparisons between Nixon’s Watergate and the current Russia scandal (Russiagate??), and it does seem that although the fact patterns and political and historical background differ in many ways, that things are coming down at the rate of drip, drip, drip, with the drips getting faster and faster, like Watergate.
But it occurs to me that although you could compare Trump with Nixon on the malevolent side, there is a Jimmy Carter similarity there too.
Both Carter and Trump arrived at the presidency with no Washington experience and apparently no willingness to play well with the hometown crowd. Carter at least did have political experience as the governor of Georgia and a state legislator before that. But both came to Washington proclaiming things were not going to be done the old way. And even more importantly, they both depended on and/or took too much advice from people with no idea or interest in how things are done in Washington.
(And about this time anyone reading this might say, well that is the point, those ways needed or still need to be changed. Well certainly corruption needs to be eliminated but you really can’t take the politics out of politics and politics to me basically is the struggle for resources among disparate groups. It’s all about give and take and always will be unless we go to a dictatorship, and I don’t think even an often complacent electorate would put up long with a true dictatorship, not to mention the congress and the Supreme Court.)
But anyway what made me think about this was another thought:
Jimmy Carter has to be the Rodney Dangerfield of presidents. He just gets no respect. I’ve noticed through the years that every time someone wants to refer to a weak or inept or failed presidency they almost if not always single out Jimmy Carter’s.
(I confess, I think I have been guilty of that in this lowly blog.)
I was reminded of this while reading a piece the other day out of the Wall Street Journal. There was this in reference to the ongoing administration:
The historical analogy isn’t Richard Nixon, whose advisers were effective in their abuses until they were finally discovered. This is more like Jimmy Carter —outsiders who arrived to drain the swamp and are swamped by incompetence.
And then to refresh my memory of the Carter administration I ran across this zinger in Wikipedia:
In polls of historians and political scientists, Carter is usually ranked as a below-average president.
And in a New York Times story still another unfavorable comparison/mention:
In recent days, the radio host Michael Savage has acknowledged “the administration is in trouble.” John Podhoretz in the New York Post and later The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page each compared Trump to Jimmy Carter — the most damning of all conservative indictments.
Geez, give the guy a break. Wasn’t he a Sunday School teacher and a U.S. Navy veteran and didn’t he do all that good work for Habitat for Humanity after his presidency (of course that is after), and didn’t he oversee the Camp David Accords that gave a little peace or the promise of it to the Middle East? And today he is noted for working for world peace through his foundation (of course after the fact as far as the presidency is concerned).
And then I watched a biography of Carter on the internet (source of it PBS) and felt I had a better handle on it all, even though I lived through his presidency — gas lines, stagflation where inflation soared even as wages did not, and the humiliating Iran Hostage episode. And really informative and interesting, his wife, Rosalyn, offers for the camera that she urged him to just do something about the hostages — she felt like I did. But then the fact is pointed out that they all came back alive. Under pressure, Carter did order a rescue attempt, but it failed. But had the attempt gone on or maybe some multi-pronged assault been tried one could quite imagine that all the hostages might all have been killed. The story is that the hostages were not released until one minute after Carter handed over his one-term presidency to Ronald Reagan, thus the final humiliation. Carter had negotiated their release, Reagan got the credit.
The unpreparedness and unwillingness is where the Cater/Trump comparison ends.
Well, another damaging characteristic of Carter was that he did not see the big picture often because he was too busy micro-managing every detail every day, down to who was authorized to play on the White House tennis courts.
I guess in some respects Trump in a control freak, not that it has done him much good. His administration seems out of control, and some of his underlings find themselves having to lawyer up and one has even reported to have asked the White House for legal help (anonymous so far).
Shades of Watergate.
It would seem that anything good that may come of Trump’s current overseas trip will have to be really, really good, like fabulous, to counter his Watergate at home.
On the other hand, if the economy does well and the nation as a whole feels secure, that will go a long ways in his favor. Even with Trump’s troubles, the Democrats need a savior, and then there is always Vice President Mike Pence ready (and getting readier with a new political action committee) and waiting in the wings.