Matthew Dallek is an associate academic director at the University of California Washington Center and the author of “The Right Moment: Ronald Reagan’s First Victory and the Decisive Turning Point in American Politics.”
When a reporter asked Jay Carney this past week how his boss felt about the comparisons he was drawing to one Richard M. Nixon, the White House press secretary shot back: “I don’t have a reaction from President Obama. I can tell you that the people who make those kind of comparisons need to check their history.”
Actually, if Carney checked his history, he’d realize that the “Nixonian” accusation has been a rite of passage for presidents over the past four decades, particularly in their second terms. Critics have routinely charged that presidents’ conduct has demeaned the office, reaching levels of malfeasance not seen since, of course, Watergate.
And with the disputes over the deadly attack in Benghazi, Libya, the targeting of tea party groups by the IRS and the Justice Department’s secret gathering of Associated Press phone records, the Nixon comparisons are rife.