ZAHRAN: Oh, how I long for the good old days of Watergate

FILE – President Nixon sits in his White House office on Aug. 16, 1973, as he poses for photographer after delivering a nationwide television address dealing with Watergate. Nixon repeated that he had no prior knowledge of the Watergate break-in and was not aware of any cover-up. (AP Photo, File)

Do you remember Watergate? This infamous chapter of political history all began in June 1972 when several members of President Richard Nixon’s reelection team were caught stealing documents from the Democratic National Committee’s office in the Watergate complex. 

I remember these events vividly because I spent most of my junior year in high school watching these hearings in my American History class. I remember seeing an endless parade of people take an oath to tell the truth and then being asked a question that became a catchphrase: “What did you know and when did you know it?” 

I also remember that many of these people ended up going to prison after being convicted for a variety of crimes, including perjury, obstruction of justice and conspiracy. John Mitchell, G. Gordon Liddy, E. Howard Hunt, Charles Colson, John Dean, John Ehrlichman and H.R. Haldeman all spent months or years behind bars for their misdeeds.  

Nixon, who allegedly authorized this burglary hoping to uncover damaging information to use against his political opponents, lied to the American people about having any knowledge of it. He was never arrested and never went on trial for any of his actions. Instead, he resigned from office, becoming the first president in our history to do so, after he was informed by a congressional delegation that he would be removed from office if he did not resign.  

On Aug.9, 1974, Nixon and his wife Patricia left Washington. I still remember watching the Nixon daughters walk with them to the aircraft that would take their parents away from the White House and back to their home in California. It was a sad day for our country, but there was an overwhelming sense of relief for many Americans that a disturbing and painful chapter of history had been closed and that justice had prevailed. 

Fifty years later, Watergate seems like child’s play compared to the actions of many of our public officials today. We currently have two political scandals in our country. Former President Donald Trump faces a total of 91 criminal charges, ranging from mishandling classified documents to election interference, that were issued by Democrat legal officials in various jurisdictions. Our current president, Joe Biden, is the subject of an investigation by several Republican-led House committees regarding his possible involvement in illegal activities with other countries when he was vice president.  

For many Americans, there is only one scandal — the charges against Trump — because most of the press is not reporting the allegations against the Biden family. Virtually every news outlet covered the Watergate proceedings, but now only a few are reporting anything about the Bidens.  

When the president is questioned about his activities or those of his son Hunter, he responds either by denying any wrongdoing, laughing at the question, or remaining silent and walking away. 

Another obvious difference between Watergate and our current political landscape is that there is no bipartisanship regarding the need to investigate our current president. Not only is the press overwhelmingly ignoring a mounting body of evidence against Biden, but so is the Democratic Party. In 1973, following Nixon’s reelection, the Senate voted unanimously to appoint a special committee to investigate abuses in the 1972 presidential campaign. What are the odds that today’s Senate would have a similar vote about investigating Biden?  

Instead of a political landscape consisting of public servants with a common goal, we have a scenario even Lewis Carroll could not have imagined. Currently, the two leading contenders for the presidential race are Trump, who could spend the rest of his life in prison if convicted of any of the charges against him, and Biden, who may be the most corrupt president in our history.  

Suddenly, the idea of five inept burglars sifting through documents looking for juicy tidbits about political opponents seems almost quaint.