|"Only dull people are brilliant at breakfast"
|"The liberal soul shall be made fat, and he that watereth, shall be watered also himself."
-- Proverbs 11:25
President Nixon left office in 2005 having proved me and the other "nattering nabobs of negativism" wrong. We thought that his administration was sleazy but we were never able to nail him. Those of us who hoped it would end differently knew we were in trouble when former Nixon media adviser Roger Ailes banned the word "Watergate" from Fox News's coverage and went with the logo "Assault on the Presidency" instead. By that time, the American people figured both sides were just spinning, and a tie always goes to the incumbent.
The big reason Nixon didn't have to resign: the rise of Conservative Media, which features Fox, talk radio and a bunch of noisy partisans on the Internet and best-sellers list who almost never admit their side does anything wrong. (Liberals, bycontrast, are always eating their own.) This solidarity came in handy when Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein of The Washington Post began snooping around after the break-in at the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. Once they scored a few scoops with the help of anonymous sources, Sean Hannity et al. went on a rampage. When the young reporters printed an article about grand jury testimony that turned out to be wrong, Drudge and the bloggers had a field day, even though none of them had lifted a finger to try to advance the story. After that, the Silent Majority wouldn't shut up.
For a while, I hoped that the Nixon tapes might bring some justice. But soon the tapes just became more fodder for those legal shows on cable. The Supreme Court split 5-4, along largely partisan lines, as it did in Bush vs. Gore. That allowed Nixon to keep control of the tapes. When he burned them, the bipartisan outcry you would have heard in the old days over destruction of evidence was muffled by a ferocious counterattack from the GOP's legion of spinners. A group calling itself "Watergate Burglars for Truth" set up a 527 to argue that Bill Clinton and other Democratic presidents had ordered more black-bag jobs than Nixon. There was nothing to prove them wrong. Reports of a tape showing that Nixon directly ordered the cover-up were just rumors, not anything that could be posted on smokinggun.com.