"History doesn't repeat itself," Mark Twain wrote, "but it does rhyme." Stephen Harper's complaint that opposition charges of voter suppression are merely a "smear campaign" by sore losers, sounds remarkably like Spiro Agnew's claim that critics of the Nixon administration were "nattering nabobs of negativism." People forget that Agnew resigned his vice presidency after being charged with -- and eventually convicted of -- corruption.
People also forget that Nixon's crime was not ordering a "third rate burglary." It was his attempt to cover it up. And they forget that, before he left office, several of his enablers resigned in disgrace and spent time in prison. The refrain from a popular song of the day listed the main culprits -- "Haldeman, Ehrlichman, Mitchell and Dean."
Everyone remembers Nixon's steadfast assertion the he was "not a crook." But they forget his much more significant -- and chilling -- assertion: "When the president does it, it's legal." Peter Van Loan's assertion that his party's "reprehensible" phone behaviour in Irwin Cotler's riding was really just an exercise in free speech sounds eerily like Nixon.
And, yesterday, Andrew Coyne echoed Deep Throat's advice to Woodward and Bernstein:
So the question then becomes: who paid his expenses? And, broadening out, who footed the bill for similar operations, live or automated, in other ridings? As in any such investigation, “follow the money” and you cannot go far wrong.
Richard Nixon insisted that the Watergate break in was merely a rogue operation. He was eventually driven from office because the courts and the press did not let him off the hook.
Listen carefully and you can hear the rhymes.