George W. Bush and the looming shadow of Richard M. Nixon

With each passing day George W. Bush’s actions more closely mirror those of another monumentally failed President: Richard M. Nixon.

Bush’s performance Tuesday night trying to wiggle out of the escalating controversy over the politically-motivated firings of eight U.S. attorneys is just another example of Nixon reborn and a corrupt President trapped by his own lies and malfeasance.

By refusing to let political guru Karl Rove and former White House counsel Harriet Miers testify under oath before Congress, Bush is forcing a showdown that will cripple his already-weakened Presidency.

Yet Bush, like Nixon, remains arrogant until the end, determined to ignore the law, political necessity or common sense. Given the lies on top of lies that the White House has told Congress over the past six years, there is no way either the House or Senate will accept unsworn, off-the-record testimony from either Rove or Miers.

The Democratic leadership of Congress, and a growing number of Republicans, want both on the record and under oath where they can face perjury charges for the lies they will inevitably tell.

An increasingly bi-partisan anger towards the way the Bush Administration conducts its business surfaced like a tidal wave Tuesday when the Senate voted 94-2 to revoke Bush’s authority to replace U.S. attorneys.

A growing number of Republicans no longer stand by their embattled and scandal-ridden President and Bush, like Nixon, is finding himself increasingly isolated from his own party and the American people.

The Bush that appeared before the cameras Tuesday night was not the swaggering Dubya of old but one with the look of a cornered animal – wounded but defiant.

As a young reporter writing about a Constitutional crisis in 1974, I saw the same look in Nixon’s eyes as he scrambled for political cover amid the growing Watergate scandal. Nixon, like Bush, stood on a crumbling political base, trapped by his many lies and botched attempts to cover up his misdeeds.

Nixon released transcripts of White House conversations, calling it "extraordinary" cooperation with Congress in its probe of Watergate.

Tuesday night, Bush used pretty much the same words to describe the White House release of emails and other records on the attorney firings.

History will forever define Nixon’s failed Presidency through Watergate and his flagrant attempt to subvert the Constitution..

History will forever define Bush’s failed Presidency through the Iraq war debacle and his many attempts to subvert the Constitution.

Both men violated their oath to uphold the Constitution. Both failed to serve the people. Both broke the law.

One resigned in disgrace.

The final chapter on the other remains unwritten but we can be sure that the chapter, when closed, will reveal another sordid period in American history.

 

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