All the coverage surrounding the 40th anniversary of Watergate brings back to mind one chilling, historic line that could be applicable to the Obama presidency. John Dean, President Nixon’s White House counsel, candidly told the president, “We have a cancer within, close to the presidency, that’s growing.” Such a comparison may sound like hyperbole, but the growing scandal involving what appears to be rampant criminal leaks of national security information is a problem that will not go away.
Influential opinion leaders as diverse as the writer Richard Cohen, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) are not just ringing the alarm bells but are stating with certainty and experience that crimes were committed, damage was done and the guilty parties must be revealed and dealt with.
Somewhere inside the Obama administration, some might be thinking cover-up, others might be thinking about coming clean, and again, as with Watergate, some might be thinking stonewall.
I mentioned in an earlier post that Mitt Romney must be low-key and let the referendum on Obama proceed without his interference. On this issue, Romney and partisan Republican leaders must be invisible, unless they have clear oversight or knowledge that allows them to speak or take action. Nothing Romney could say could be useful to the investigation or to his own political fortunes. In fact, the best politics would be for him to say, “I have nothing to say.”
Obama has done a good job of managing the problem by appointing two U.S. attorneys with impeccable credentials and reputations to investigate. However, there is no escaping the fact that this is the Obama administration investigating itself. And as new facts and allegations surface, that could become untenable.
All the other political maneuvering, topic polls and campaign tactics could become trivial compared to how this issue could affect the presidential race.