CP Opinion

Thursday, Oct 23, 2014

Obama and Nixon Scandals: Nothing New Under the Sun (Pt. 1)

  • (By CP Cartoonist Rod Anderson)
    Wallace Henley is an exclusive CP columnist.
May 20, 2013|6:02 am

There is nothing new under the sun, wrote Solomon after squeezing out all the novelty in living that he could. The alleged Obama Administration scandals prove it.

One more time.

Dress it in Nixon-drab, Obama-smart, Che-chic, Klan-Cloaked, Populist-rainbowed, Anarchist-black, but power-abuse is power-abuse, scandal is scandal and tyranny is tyranny.

New regimes that sparkle in the bright sunshine of the mornings when they parade to their thrones soon try to hide from the same brilliance. The sunlight that crowns them with glory rapidly becomes the piercing spotlight searching out their shame and scandal.

In that antiseptic fluorescence hope is revealed as hype, promise as disillusionment, and what seem fresh-clean leaders are exposed as the same old snake-oil peddlers who've been rambling on the roads of history since Adam and Eve tasted raw power for the first time.

Back when Watergate was as headlined as Benghazi, and Nixon Administration "dirty tricks" heralded as often as Team Obama's alleged manipulation of the IRS against opponents, and Spiro Agnew's "chilling effects" on the press as lamented as the reported harassment of Obama-critical journalists, people would try to comfort me, a disillusioned junior staffer in the Nixon White House, by saying, "They all do it."

They would cite the Kennedys' under-the-radar probes of Martin Luther King, Lyndon Johnson's ruthless assaults on political opponents, and other scandalous political deeds.

It didn't wash with me, as much as I wanted it to. As painful as it was for me then, I realized no regime should be allowed to skulk in the dark. To imply the sins of one might be excused because others had committed even more grievous deeds was only to perpetuate scandals and tyrannies.

In 1975 I wrote a book, The White House Mystique (Fleming H. Revell), in which I tried to bring into light the "Geist in the White House," the spirit of raw power and how it warps those who sniff its seductive incense daily.

Nothing I have seen in all the presidencies through the ensuing decades has changed my opinion.

In every age, the cause is the same: a worldview of denial. The stark truth is that "all have sinned and come short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) How ironic that the more we seek to glorify ourselves, the more inglorious we become. Thus the worldview of denial is the rejection of the idea of original sin.

The framers of the Constitution knew this, and embedded checks and balances into their design of our governing system. They knew the warnings of Edmund Burke and others that raw power was the poisonous fruit dangling from the forbidden tree, and that human nature would compel a taste.

But, to borrow an idea from Harvard sociologist Pitirim Sorokin, we are living in the "sensate age" when science and material manipulations are so advanced we can obscure the reality about ourselves and the people we elect. We can all live happily in the slogans and sound-bites as if they constituted actuality.

Here's where it gets trickier: We all know the rightwingers are sinister oppressors who want to put us in chains and make us row the big corporate boats while the bosses bask up on deck. The establishment media tells us that non-stop. But they also gush endlessly with the heroics of the left, trying to convince us that the people and institutions from that side of the political spectrum are for equality, freedom, and all things noble. Scores follow the leftists to the barricades to bring down the aristocrats and their monarchical enslavements.

Rightwingers are clunkers, leaving easily-spotted tape on the locks of doors they pry open, as the inept Watergate burglars did 40 years ago. The leftists, though, come with flare and panache. Their daring profiles make for great graffiti and dorm-room posters. Rather than marching iron-booted into our homes and institutions, the tyrants of the left cloak themselves in political correctness and stardom. We run out to greet them as our liberators as the French masses once dashed to Robespierre.

Ultimately, society plunges into a new reign of institutional terror, and our freedoms wind up on the guillotine.

So watch for the easy-to-spot tyrants of the right, but keep a close eye too on the left. Those who do a cool saunter into power are as oppressive as those who goose-step their way to the throne.

Because there's nothing new under the sun.

Wallace Henley, senior associate pastor at Houston's Second Baptist Church, is also adjunct professor in worldview studies at Belhaven University, a former White House and Congressional aide, and author of Globequake, published by Thomas Nelson.
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