Hillary Clinton’s alleged penchant for secrecy and paranoia has recently drawn repeated unfavorable comparisons to one of the most infamous characters in US politics: former President Richard Nixon.
Todd Purdum wrote a lengthy Politico piece on the supposed similarities between the two that was published on Saturday.
One of the characteristics Purdum argued Clinton, the Democratic front-runner for president in 2016, shares with Nixon is a focus on “grievances” and a consistent belief she has been wronged.
“What Clinton does share with Nixon is that she, too, is ‘a serial collector of resentments,’ as Nixon chronicler Rick Perlstein described the 37th president,” Purdum wrote. “Whether complaining as the wife of the Arkansas governor that her family couldn’t have a swimming pool like ‘normal people,’ or saying last summer that she and her husband were ‘broke’ with legal bills when they left the White House, she has come by her grievances the hard way, and worn them on her sleeve.”
Additionally, Purdum quoted several former Nixon staffers who see similarities between Nixon and Clinton, especially in light of last week’s email scandal. The New York Times revealed last Monday that Clinton exclusively used a personal email while she served as secretary of state. The paper reported this may violated federal guidelines and left state secrets vulnerable on unsecure servers.
Ken Khachigian, a former Nixon speechwriter, said the situation was reminiscent of the Nixon administration’s efforts to conceal audiotapes made by the president from public scrutiny.
“This is like the Nixon tapes, in a sense,” Khachigian said when asked about the emails. “Everybody wanted access. We resisted, and then they were eked out in death by a thousand cuts. Finally they were expropriated and now belong to the archives.”
One particularly damning tape contributed to the Watergate scandal that ultimately led to Nixon’s resignation. Another former Nixon aide, Patrick Buchanan, also cited Nixon’s tapes when asked about Clinton.
“Burn the tapes!” Buchanan told Politico. “I told him to burn the tapes. … I tell you, I did think of that when I heard about Hillary. Jesus, she’s got all these emails. Who knows what’s in them?”
It’s not just Purdum and old Nixon hands who are comparing Clinton to the disgraced former president.
National Journal columnist Ron Fournier wrote on Sunday that he “wasn’t surprised” people saw similarities between the two. The same day, a Washington Times writer said Clinton has a “Nixonian approach to politics.” A Concord Monitor editorial directly made the comparison last Thursday. And Jennifer Rubin, a conservative Washington Post columnist, addressed the Clinton controversy last Friday by referring to the 18 minutes of Nixon’s audiotapes that infamously went missing.
“Republicans don’t need to find a single document; they have the evidence of unfitness to serve (pardon the pun) in a personal server that allowed Clinton to control entirely the emails of the secretary of state of the United States, the work product created on behalf of the American people,” she wrote. “It’s breathtaking, really — as if we knew about the 18 1/2-minute gap, the paranoia and the dishonesty before Richard Nixon was elected.”
Of course, as Purdum wrote in Politico, Clinton’s controversy is very different from Nixon’s and it’s unknown whether anything in her emails could even be damaging to her likely 2016 campaign. At the State Department’s request, Clinton turned over thousands of pages of emails and she wrote on Twitter last week that she would like the government to release them.
“Not even Clinton’s harshest critics could claim that Servergate (or Chappaquadata, or whatever it may come to be called) constitutes a high crime or misdemeanour,” Purdum said. “But it does connote a reflexive wariness about her enemies — a wariness that sometimes seems to border on paranoia — that has long dogged Clinton, and that struck at least a few old Nixon hands as familiar.”
However, at least one former Nixon ally, conservative political consultant Roger Stone, doesn’t see the resemblance. On Saturday, he scoffed at the comparison, which he said was “an insult” to Nixon:
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