The charged atmosphere in the US these days, reminds us of the beginning of the 70s, when President Richard Nixon made the historic mistake of spying on the Democratic Party during the presidential elections of 1972. This was later known as the Watergate scandal which was revealed by the brilliant journalist, Bob Woodward, and was growing like a snowball day after day, until it toppled one of the most promising American presidents.
President Nixon did not need to spy - he was a prominent president on all levels. He broke the ice with China and had several achievements on an economic level, which were assessed as important and decisive.
President Nixon, who belonged to a middle-class family, made his way to the American world of politics. He served in the Congress and was later chosen by President Dwight Eisenhower as his deputy. He worked with Eisenhower during his two tenures (1952- 1960), and he almost succeeded President Eisenhower when he ran for president in 1960. But he lost the tightly contested elections against Democrat John F. Kennedy, the young tycoon with a charming charisma.
Nixon did not give up - he waited eight years, then ran again for president and won in 1968. He did a good job and was re-elected in 1972, but unfortunately, he only served two years then resigned because of the Watergate scandal in 1974. In his post resignation farewell address after the resignation, President Nixon spoke about the extent of pain, bitterness and remorse, because the scandal has prevented him from making history as one of the best presidents, especially that he did not need to spy but the unrestrained ambition turns out to be counterproductive most of the time.
President Trump neither deals with opponents in a way that would contain this mayhem, nor with the media or his allies in a proper wayAhmad Al-Farraj
The second presidential term of President Nixon was characterized with popular demonstrations and intensive media attacks against him. Underestimating the Judiciary during the investigations of the Watergate scandal was the main faux pas that toppled him; he refused to hand over the tapes in his possession to one of the judges and these tapes were the evidence to his spying. He then has dismissed the Minister of Justice.
After that, he did not stay for a long time, and if it wasn’t for the presidential pardon that was issued by his deputy and successor President Gerald Ford, Nixon would have faced a tragic end. The charged atmosphere in the US now reminds us in many ways of the critical period of Nixon’s presidency. The difference is that Nixon’s scandal was four years after his first tenure, while the current crisis with President Trump started when he first reached the White House, less than a month ago.
Despite all the fierce campaigns against Trump, he was not able to deal with it as he should, just as Nixon has done during the crisis that toppled him. President Trump neither deals with opponents in a way that would contain this mayhem, nor with the media or his allies in a proper way.
Dr Ahmad al-Farraj is a Saudi writer with al-Jazirah daily. He holds a Masters degree in literature from the University of Indiana and a PhD in Linguistics from the University of Michigan. He was the Dean of the Arabic Language Institute in King Saud University and a member of the university’s council.