“Is President Obama Nixon-fying the White House?” Republicans ask

Oct 21, 2009 11:14am

ABC News’ Z. Byron Wolf reports: Republican Sen. Judd Gregg of New Hampshire, who came pretty darn close to becoming a member of the Obama Administration, coined a new word on the Senate floor to criticize the President and his staff. The man President Obama once nominated to be his Commerce Secretary wondered aloud on the Senate floor if the White House under President Obama is starting to be run like it was under Richard Nixon. “Nixon-fying” is how Gregg put it. It is a point that is for debate, to be sure. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn, made the Republican case in a speech on the Senate floor at 10am. He will also appear on ABC News' "Top Line" at 12 p.m. ET. You can watch the interview live here. Alexander spoke of working in the Nixon White House as a 29 year-old staffer in the Vice President’s office and seeing similarities between how that shop was run and how the White House is run today. “What I'm seeing is some of the same signs I saw as a young man in the early stages of the Nixon administration. I'm seeing those same signs in the Obama white house,” said Alexander. He rattled off some of the transgressions of the White House under Nixon – from the Enemies List to Watergate. Read the whole speech here. “You could see an administration spiraling downwards. Of course, we all know where it led,” said Alexander. The only reason I mention this is because I have an uneasy feeling, only ten months into this new administration, that we're beginning to see the symptoms of this same kind of animas developing in the Obama administration. He argued that the treatment of the White House by Fox News, a report in Politico that the White House wants to “neuter” the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the now-lifted gag order on Medicare Advantage insurers from lobbying Medicare beneficiaries on health reform legislation, and combative treatment of Republican lawmakers are symptoms of a White House turning inward. Which led him to offer this piece of advice: “If the president and his top aides treat people with different views as enemies instead of listening to what they have to say, they're likely to end up with a narrow view and a feeling that the whole world is out to get them. and as those of us who served in the Nixon administration know, that can get you into a lot of trouble,” Alexander said. Alexander did not say the Obama White House has broken the law. Gregg, who was on the Senate floor to make a speech on the size of the national debt – an issue he admitted deserves bipartisan blame – listened to Alexander’s case. “I was fascinated by the senator from Tennessee's presentation,” said Gregg. “And I think we're all concerned about the direction of this ‘calling out.’ I take it the senator from Tennessee is suggesting that this administration is Nixon-fying the White House? Is that correct?” Gregg then launched into his own critique of the Obama Administration. He did not fault them for spending money earlier this year to try to stabilize the economy. But he said they must try to tamp down the deficit going forward.

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