Twenty-four years after Nixon’s resignation, Democratic Congressman Jim McDermott presented a recording of House Speaker Newt Gingrich’s cell phone conversation. The same media which had busily pretended that Watergate was the worst political scandal in American history cheered this bout of wiretapping because it was carried out by Democrats.
It then took another 10 years for McDermott to settle the case. And unlike Nixon, McDermott did not resign.
The last few years have seen an upsurge in Democratic wiretapping and similar illegal tactics. Sarah Palin’s email was hacked by the son of a Democratic Tennessee politician. The media widely made use of the contents of the email, just as the New York Times ran excerpts of the Gingrich phone intercept.
Obama apparently attributed his victory to a recording of Mitt Romney at a campaign event, though that’s just because it fits his class warfare narrative. And now we have the media broadcasting a recording from Mitch McConnell.
Senator McConnell has explicitly invoked Watergate and called for an investigation. But as usual there are double standards here. A private conversation between Obama and his staffers would never have been made use of by the media. If the media had been forced to report on it, it would have preceded all such reporting by condemning the recording and invoking Watergate.
But the rules are different for the other side. Elephants are fair game. Donkeys aren’t. Any tactic can be used to kill an elephant, but any move against a donkey is probably sexist, racist, homophobic, imperialistic and all the rest of the neat little gold shields that the media keeps in its desk drawer.
But if we’re going to have a political culture of wiretapping then it won’t stop with liberals recording conservatives. Sooner or later it’s going to go both ways.