It took Richard Nixon nearly five years in office before he sank to the point of firing individuals to impede an investigation that posed a threat to his presidency. Donald Trump, never one to be outdone by anybody, managed to reach Nixon's insane level of paranoia in just one-hundred-and-nine days.
Yesterday, in a move that stunned much of the country and most of its elected leaders, Donald Trump fired FBI Director James Comey, a termination that was so sudden and unexpected that Comey himself, when he heard the news, thought it was a joke. The comparisons to Nixon were instantaneous, with adjectives like "Nixonian" being sprinkled throughout news commentary - along with a stream of reminders and comparison's to Nixon's "Saturday Night Massacre" where he had to fire his attorney general and assistant attorney general before he came up with a lackey who would agree to fire the Watergate Special Prosecutor.
Trump said he was firing Comey based on recommendations by his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, and the assistant attorney general. He said the firing was a direct result of Comey's mishandling of Hillary Clinton's email situation, a clumsy debacle of justice that ultimately put Donald Trump in the White House. Donald Trump said all of that - and Donald Trump lied.
Trump fired Comey because the FBI was persisting in its investigation of the Trump campaign's ties to the Russian government. He fired Comey on the very day that a federal grand jury connected to the FBI investigation issued subpoenas. Trump, exactly like Nixon, was trying to impede an investigation that could sink his presidency.
The news was less than an hour old when some reporters began referring to Comey's firing as the "Tuesday Night Massacre."
Those of us of a certain age have seen it all before. Once Nixon had been reduced to firing his perceived enemies, it all began unraveling quickly. Soon he was hitting the sauce and stumbling around the Lincoln Memorial in the middle of the night - and finally our long national nightmare culminated in his resignation.
One of these days not too remote, President Pence will be providing a blanket pardon to Trump for any crimes and misdemeanors he may have committed while serving in his sole political office - and we will have a new spate of ethics laws and guidelines to govern our elected officials.
The pendulum, she swings.