It’s official. According to a majority of reputable polls, Donald Trump is now the least-liked president in U.S. history.
On the other hand, one must remember that a majority of those same polls showed Hillary Clinton easily winning the presidency last November.
Still, the comparisons between the Trump administration and that of Richard Nixon are piling up, the latest involving federal indictments handed down against former Trump campaign officials.
There were dozens of indictments in Nixon’s Watergate scandal, and that was about breaking into an office. Imagine what could become of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation that involves another nation’s attempts to steal America’s democratic process.
In Watergate, grand larceny and lies about the crime brought down a president. One wonders what the effects will be on the Trump administration for what many Americans may see as acts of treason.
Those of us who lived through Watergate saw a fundamental change in America’s opinion of government and those who govern. It brought a heightened element of distrust in elected leaders that had not been seen in this country since the muck-raking era.
But Watergate was about Americans stealing from other Americans. It did not involve a foreign government — a super power at that — interfering in or manipulating a U.S. presidential election.
We would be naive to think such machinations are new to the American political landscape. Dirty tricks, enemies’ lists and character assassination have always been part of this nation’s political process.
So far, three Republican operatives are being targeted by the Mueller investigation, with criminal indictments and arrests already made. How this works is, once those indicted understand they may be able to at least partially save themselves, they may rat out more of the culprits on this side of the Atlantic — while the bad guys on the other side of the ocean smirk about their successful attack on our democracy.
The Trump administration has responded to the special counsel’s unsealing of indictments in typical fashion, deflecting, pointing fingers at Hillary Clinton and Democrats, insisting there was no collusion between the Trump campaign and Russian spies.
Deflection and finger-pointing, however, don’t seem to have much of an effect on Robert Mueller, who seems to be going about this business as methodically as someone preparing a legal argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. Mueller is under attack by the White House, and that is likely to continue as this case becomes fully exposed to public scrutiny. Mueller, his family and friends can expect all kinds of ugly blowback, because that’s what the Trump administration seems to do best.
Richard Nixon was not exactly the picture of grace when he left the White House for the last time, having been forced from office by Watergate disclosures. But Nixon was the picture of calm compared to the mayhem and chaos in the current administration.
One thing is very clear — this story is far from over. And these early revelations likely are only the first resulting in charges against others involved in the Trump camp.
The best advice is to remain calm, watch, listen, learn and trust in our system of government and justice to get it right in the long run. Based on the resistance from the White House so far, that is not an easy assignment, but it is crucially important.
In fact, we can say without reservation that the fate of a great nation hangs in the balance. This is one of those points in American history that will leave an indelible mark, and one we hope is not fatal.