The carnivores of civil liberties

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By Victor Davis Hanson

After a landslide loss in the 1972 presidential election, the Democratic Party was resuscitated the following year by the Watergate scandal. The destruction of the Nixon presidency powered the Democrats to make huge political gains in the 1974 elections. Watergate also birthed (or perhaps rebirthed) modern investigative journalism. A young generation of maverick reporters supposedly alone had challenged the establishment in order to uncover the whole truth about abuses of power by the Nixon administration.

Liberalism rode high during the Watergate era. It had demanded that civil liberties be protected from the illegal or unconstitutional overreach of the Nixon-era FBI, CIA and other agencies. Liberals alleged that out-of-control officials had spied on U.S. citizens for political purposes and then tried to mask their wrongdoing under the cover of “national security” or institutional “professionalism.” All those legacies are now eroding. The Democratic Party, the investigative media and liberalism itself are now weirdly on the side of the reactionary administrative state. They have either downplayed or excused Watergate-like abuses of power by the former Barack Obama administration.

 

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