Last week, Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi claimed that the recent hack of the DNC emails was an 'electronic Watergate.'
For most folks, hearing the former Speaker of the House liken the recent release of DNC emails to the Watergate scandal just seems silly.
But I believe Nancy Pelosi’s comments on the DNC hack are more dangerous than they seem.
Of course, the metaphor doesn’t hold up.
During the Watergate scandal of the 1970s, President Nixon and his powerful friends sent government agents to break into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in order to install listening devices and photograph documents. The scandal of Watergate was a sitting president using his power in such an unethical fashion.
The recent leak of DNC emails by Wikileaks through the hacker Guccifer 2.0 shows that the power brokers atop the DNC, including Debbie Wasserman Schultz, behaved incredibly unethically during the Democratic Presidential Primary.
The metaphor doesn’t work the way Pelosi and her friends want it to. Congresswoman Pelosi equates Wikileaks with Nixon, calling them both criminals, but for most Americans Wikileaks is Woodward and Bernstein, bringing the truth of the situation to the public’s attention.
Those emails are particularly disturbing for critics of the DNC and supporters of Bernie Sanders. For months we said that the DNC wasn't behaving properly and was working against the Sanders campaign to favor the Clinton campaign.
And it turns out: We were right!
Wasserman Schultz and her DNC officials and the media said that we were crazy. "Conspiracy theories!" they shouted. "Nonsense!" they told us. "You don't understand politics!" they insisted.
And they lied! That's the scandal!
Congresswoman Pelosi and her powerful friends don't want us to focus on the real problem. Instead she tries to cover it up, making this useless sort of metaphor about Watergate. She is implying that whoever is telling the truth is at fault, not the folks who worked unethically to support one candidate over another when their job required neutrality.
And what’s especially dangerous is that Pelosi is adding to the running narrative in this nation that exposing the truth should be punished and the truth, no matter how ugly, should be ignored when it hurts the powerful.
We’ve seen this with Danielle Ellsberg, Edward Snowden, Chelsea Manning and the rest of the folks who have been punished, threatened and attacked by the power elite for the crime of telling the truth.
A Congressperson should represent the interests of the people. As a person in leadership, Pelosi should demand reform in the upper levels of the DNC, should promote rules and oversight to prevent this from happening again, and should admonish those who put themselves and their priorities above that of their own party.
Instead, as a person of wealth and power, Pelosi moves to protect her powerful friends and demonize the truth tellers. She does so clumsily with a half-baked comparison to another scandal, but ultimately this is the same story wrapped in new packaging: those with money and power are protected by their powerful friends, and those without are condemned and criminalized when they speak the truth.
Congresswoman Pelosi’s message is not just a bad metaphor; it leads us down a dangerous path.
We must do more to protect whistleblowers and help truth-tellers bring the crimes of the powerful to our attention.