We are 46-days into Donald Trump’s presidency. The first 100-days of a presidency are often referred to as a honeymoon period, but President Trump’s honeymoon is turning into the holiday from hell. Just weeks into his presidency, Donald Trump has had Executive Orders overturned by the courts. He has been condemned for conducting affairs of state in the full view of diners at his Florida golf club, and many people have even questioned Trump’s sanity. The Boston Globe says that this past weekend, “Donald Trump fell off the crazy tree and hit every branch on the way down.”
The source of the latest furor was, of course, Trump publicly accusing Barack Obama of illegally tapping his communications. That was swiftly followed up by John Oliver on Last Week Tonight, who mocked Trump’s accusations of Obama, and dubbed it “stupid Watergate.” As reported by Deadline, Oliver reflected on the way Donald Trump and his team have responded to concerns over Trump’s links with Russia.
Trump’s Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, stands accused of misleading the Senate over his own links with Russia. During his confirmation hearing, Sessions was asked how he would deal with any member of the Trump administration, who was found to have had contact with Russian officials. Sessions claimed that he was unaware of any such contact, despite the fact that he allegedly had two meetings with senior Russian diplomats himself. John Oliver drew comparisons with Richard Nixon’s “Watergate” scandal.
“It is not clear what is really going on here yet. One possibility is that this all amounts to what I’m going to call ‘Stupid Watergate’: potential scandal with all the intrigue of Watergate, except everyone involved is really bad at everything.
“The relevant question isn’t so much ‘What did the president know and when did he know it?’ as it is, ‘Is the president physically capable of knowing things at all?'”
Of course, this isn’t the first time that comparisons have been made between Donald Trump and Richard Nixon.
Is Donald Trump The New Richard Nixon?
UK broadsheet, the Independent, recently said that “Donald Trump is the new Richard Nixon – without the brains.” They point out that like Nixon, Trump is obsessed by the media. On numerous occasions over the past few months, we have seen Trump launch frequent attacks on the media. Anything that shows Trump in a poor light is branded “fake news,” Trump’s team present the media with “alternative facts,” and under it all, there bubbles the Russian question.
In the wake of a leaked intelligence dossier, which accused Trump of less than conventional sexual practices, the suspicion remains that the Russians have some sort of hold over President Trump.
Just days before Nixon was brought down over “Watergate,” he had addressed the nation in a now infamous TV news conference. Nixon accused the media of “distorted, frantic, and hysterical reporting, which was shaking people’s faith in the American system.” Trump’s comments that the free press is “the enemy of the people” are eerily reminiscent of Nixon’s comments. Nixon was forced to resign the presidency, shortly after telling the American people that “people have got to know whether their president’s a crook. Well, I’m not a crook.”
Presidents Trump and Nixon both seem to share a common trait. Something, possibly a deep-seated insecurity, drives them to seek popularity and approval. Any criticism is deemed unfair and unwarranted, to the extent that mental health professionals have been questioning Trump’s sanity.
Richard Nixon was forced to resign the presidency after it became clear that he was aware of the bugging of the DNC, and that he tried to get the FBI to drop their investigation. According to the BBC, Nixon’s lawyer at the time of the 1973 scandal, has claimed that, when compared to the allegations against Trump, “Watergate would look trivial.”
“The facts now in this investigation are much worse than the facts in the early stages of Watergate, which was a simple break-in ordered by mid-level campaign officials – not by the president.
“Here we have facts that are much worse: We have a foreign power that has orchestrated a break in. It’s a much worse situation than the outset of Watergate.”
There is, of course, a major difference between Trump and Nixon. The latter was an experienced politician, a brilliant lawyer, and a man who had debated Russian leader Nikita Khrushchev on TV. Nixon had served in Congress, the Senate, and as Vice President. Trump, on the other hand, has never held a political office until now. Nixon was able to surround himself with an experienced team of advisors and cabinet members. Trump is accused of filling his cabinet with billionaire “cronies,” and members of his family.
The similarities and the differences between Nixon and Trump are what led the Independent to conclude that “essentially Trump is Nixon without the brains.”
[Featured Image by Luis M. Alvarez/AP]