U.S. President Barack Obama meets with President-elect Donald Trump to discuss transition plans in the White House Oval Office in Washington, Nov. 10, 2016. 
Photo by Kevin Lamarque/Reuters

In retrospect, GOP’s Obama criticisms appear awfully ironic

Congressional Republicans made no effort to hide their contempt for Barack Obama during his presidency, and towards the end of the Democrat’s second term, the GOP’s characterizations of the president got a little hysterical.

Obama, Americans were told, had dictatorial aspirations, as evidenced by his “lawless” presidency. As part of the same narrative, Republicans were convinced that Obama, characterized as a Nixon-like villain, was obsessed with governing through executive orders, attacking the courts, dividing the country, and dismissing the importance of institutional limits and the rule of law.

You might see where I’m going with this.

Indeed, I struggled to keep up with the instances in which Republicans were certain they’d uncovered an Obama scandal that was comparable to, and perhaps even worse than, Watergate. Benghazi, we were told, was “worse than Watergate.” The IRS story carried “echoes of Watergate.” A job offer for former Rep. Joe Sestak might have been “Obama’s Watergate.” “Fast and Furious” was also going to be “Obama’s Watergate.” Solyndra made “Watergate look like child’s play.” NSA surveillance was one of “Obama’s Watergates.” The Affordable Care Act was worse than Watergate.

At one point, the Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, en route to winning a Pulitzer, was so overwhelmed by her contempt for the Democratic president that she wrote in a column, “We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate,” and she then neglected to mention which perceived “scandal” she was even referring to.

The Rachel Maddow Show, 5/9/17, 9:42 PM ET

History offers glaring precedent for Trump's firing of Comey

Michael Beschloss, NBC News presidential historian, talks with Rachel Maddow about the historical precedent for Donald Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey, in particular Richard Nixon’s
In retrospect, the Republicans’ rhetoric was unwise – and more than a little ironic.
In dramatically casting aside James B. Comey, President Trump fired the man who may have helped make him president – and the man who potentially most threatened the future of his presidency.

Not since Watergate has a president dismissed the person leading an investigation bearing on him, and Mr. Trump’s decision late Tuesday afternoon drew instant comparisons to the “Saturday Night Massacre” in October 1973, when President Richard M. Nixon ordered the firing of Archibald Cox, the special prosecutor looking into the so-called third-rate burglary that would eventually bring Nixon down.
Frankly, the Watergate parallels were already evident before yesterday. A Republican’s allies broke into Democratic files, looking for dirt they could steal in order to swing a presidential election.

But last night’s news added a helpful exclamation point to the observation.

Barack Obama, Donald Trump, Scandals and Watergate

In retrospect, GOP's Obama criticisms appear awfully ironic