Whitewater vs. Watergate

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Whitewater vs. Watergate. Both are political sandals that have rocked the nation. As Watergate unraveled, many of Nixon's dirty tactics were learned, including assorted lists of enemies (a number of which became targets of IRS tax audits), wiretapping, political sabotage, burglary, blackballing, and smear campaigns. Similarly, as Whitewater unfolded, the scandal appeared to involve more than just an illegal loan. It touched on possible hush money paid to witnesses and includes the acquisition of more than 900 confidential FBI files on Bush and Reagan appointees. In many aspects, the two are very similar. They are alike in the cover-ups they both produced. But they still are about two totally different events. Each of these scandals is associated with a central criminal event and both involved a web of political intrigue.1

First, what were Whitewater and Watergate? Whitewater started as a land development of riverfront property in Arkansas in the 1980s. The Clintons received a large share of the development without putting up any money. The development went bad, so additional capital was needed. There is evidence and testimony suggesting that this cash was obtained illegally from the federal government and never paid back. As for Watergate - though it was revealed by the Senate Watergate committee as an unprecedented abuse of presidential power that was extremely dangerous to the country, it is remembered 25 years later as a strange and unsuccessful burglary in the Watergate office building by people linked to the reelection committee of Nixon. But Watergate was so much more than a political burglary. The Senate hearings showed Watergate was composed of constant criminality by the Nixon White House, and was driven by an extreme commitment to maintain control of power by any means, including criminal conduct. It included the break-in of a psychiatrist's office for the purpose of smearing Daniel Elsberg - the leaker of the Pentagon Papers; the misuse of the IRS and other federal agencies to punish those on the president's "enemies list"; the illegal wiretapping of journalists and members of Nixon's own administration; and the purposeful editing of government documents to enhance a political agenda.2

Many similarities come up when discussing Whitewater and Watergate. The scandals may be separated by two decades, but much irony is evident when they are compared. For example, in 1974, Hillary Rodham was employed as a lawyer by the House Judiciary Committee's impeachment inquiry, along with Bernard Nussbaum, former chief counsel at the Clinton White House.

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