Where are Obama’s Woodward and Bernstein? We, as a society, are 40 years beyond the time of the Watergate Scandal. The information age, whether for good or bad, is upon us. The 24 hour news cycle is part of our lives. The lifespan of a story today, even important stories, are normally only a few days. In the seventies, during Watergate, the information dripped out. It was this slow mounting drip that built into the flood of public opinion (and the force behind that opinion that brought down the Nixon Administration.)
It was seen at the time, through the pressure of the coming certainty of losing the midterm 1974 elections, that if the Republicans lost control of both houses (as turned out to be the case), then Nixon would face near certain impeachment. In my mind, that is what caused the resignation of Nixon. He was resigned to the fact that facing a Democrat controlled legislature, he would be the first President removed from office by impeachment. Nixon opted for the resignation and probable pardon (which did in fact come through) rather than face impeachment and probable jail time.
Yet, with the importance of the events unfolding surrounding Benghazi, where are the reporters who keep the fire burning? Where are the reporters who fan the embers to hold the feet to the fire of the government officials charged with oversight? Where are the reporters who would risk everything to find where the witnesses are, or to find and get an interview with the people who were on the ground the night of the attack? The duties of this work has fallen to us by default. The television reporters of today, who are paid millions, have a vested interest in keeping the status quo (or have, as exampled by those working for such media outlets such as MSNBC and their kindred souls, a predetermined political agenda that prevents them from going after their heroes.) The talking heads who work for outlets such as Fox News, or the many conservative talk show hosts on radio, have little investigative experience or little knowledge of speaking to sources. Instead, they have staff who take phone calls or read articles and put talking points together, much the same as those they are speaking against. We who work for little or no monetary reward are the last bastion of representative government. Our concern is not for the Pulitzer or the high value TV appearances; ours is a deep abiding concern for our nation, our country’s honor, and for an honest government. We, as writers, can continue to fan the embers of justice that keep the fires burning to uncover the truth. When told that was a long time ago, we need to say we remember. (As Hillary Clinton said, “What difference at this point does it make?!”) We need to say that it wasn’t a burglary; it was four Americans who died. We have a responsibility to continue to ask the questions. We need to give our officials choices: find out what happened, or you lose the next election to someone who will.
Our elected officials, by and large, are followers. Mostly, they will only respond to what they believe will get them re-elected or elect other members of their party. I am of the belief that they will usually do trades to benefit themselves, their constituents, or their positions on committees; they will not act in the best interest of our country. They can be influenced by pressure from other committee members (or worse, by the leaders of their own party.) These politicians know that it is a long time from now to the elections in 2014; and the public, especially Obama supporters, will normally accept excuses. We need to make this the exception, the time where we will not rest until we know every detail; we need not worry about the amount of time it takes to uncover the truth. We are not worried about how much these hearings cost; that is the function of government, to answer to the taxpayers. The reporters such as Woodward and Bernstein had only their editors to worry about (and the number of people following their articles.) The Watergate burglary occurred on June 17, 1972; Nixon did not resign until August 8 1974. Woodward and Bernstein and several other reporters knew that if they continued the pressure, if they continued to drip out the story with a follow-up as often as their editors would allow, the drip would turn into a flood (and that would break the dam holding back the truth.)
A fine example of how legislators tend to follow the party line was shown in this week’s hearings by the Democrats present. A majority of these Democrats chose to use their time to either attack the witnesses without giving them a chance to respond or to reiterate the findings of the ARB (Accountability Review Board), a body set up to (in my mind) facilitate the cover-up. According to the Democrats now, there is nothing to see here folks; just move along. The ARB has been conducted: the President had nothing to do with this, and the Secretary of State had nothing to do with this. We have found the failings and are doing what we can to make sure this never happens again.
Review the stories and the manner in which the momentum built between June 1972 and August 1974. Review how the Republicans and the Nixon administration played down all the stories that were reported. The was just a low class burglary, which in truth it was. “Nothing to see here; move along.” It was not the break-in that was the problem; remember, it was the cover-up.
The choice is ours. Do we keep the pressure up on these legislators to find out the truth, or do we just move along and do as we are told?