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Watergate comparisons reveal historical amnesia

In rehashing the Benghazi-is-worse-than-Watergate argument, Bob Smith writes that “no one died in that petty burglary” (“Cartoonist’s Benghazi barb is off the mark,” Letters, May 16). In those few words, he inadvertently reveals an alarming truth: Far too many Americans have no idea what Watergate was or why it mattered.

It’s true that the break-in at the Watergate touched off cascading investigations and gave the crisis its name. But the botched break-in does not even scratch the surface of that crisis, a vast conspiracy at the highest levels of the Nixon administration to sabotage political rivals and subvert the electoral process.

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Even the break-in itself was hardly a “petty burglary” — it was an attempt by Nixon’s inner circle to wiretap the Democratic National Committee for purposes of political espionage and sabotage.

Only massive ignorance of Watergate’s true scope and severity allows these endless “worse than Watergate” claims that surface so predictably in every political dust-up.

Jeremy A. Stern


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