Let it never be said that American national politics lacks a flair for exaggeration. After a recording of a strategy session at Senator Mitch McConnell's reelection campaign was released by Mother Jones magazine, the event was quickly analogized to whatever nefarious history was close at hand. It is almost as though political actors were hoping to score political points off of a relative non-event.
The comparison: Watergate
What it was: A 1972 break-in at a Washington hotel targeting the Democratic campaign working to unseat President Nixon. The burglars intended to plant listening devices in the space.
Who's making the reference:
Brad Dayspring of the National Republican Senatorial Committee:
Glenn Thrush of Politico:
This really is like Watergate: If tape of McConnell aides trashing Judd came via illegal bug FBI needs to investigate motherjones.com/politics/2013/…— Glenn Thrush (@GlennThrush) April 9, 2013
Mitch McConnell himself:
McConnell did not reveal any other details about how he knows who was behind the secret taping. He did say the secret taping is “much like Nixon and Watergate.”
“That’s what the political left does these days,” he said.
How apt is it: While America always likes throwing a "-gate" on the end of any political uproar, this one prompted a lot of references to the full scandal itself. It doesn't fit. Watergate was an illegal burglary authorized by a sitting president. There's no indication that any break-in took place at McConnell's office, much less that Obama asked that it happen. (Should that be revealed, we will happily revise our assessment.)