The unraveling of the Iran- contra- White House tangle is a process that must be painful to all concerned Americans, no less than to the high officials who were involved. The inevitable comparisons to Watergate create a sense of deja vu , the quality of the instant replay, the feelings that we are retracing a familiar path.
We see the investigators digging away and building their reputations, the journalists almost gleefully reporting the faintest scraps from an Administration that has evaded press confrontations with skill.
We see a President once again unable to regain his credibility with the general public, the Congress and many of his own supporters. And in carefully avoiding the topic of a President's leaving office, we emphasize by omission the outcome of Watergate, that national agony of having the highest elected official of our country leaving the White House in disgrace.
Recognizing these and many other parallels to that troubled spring of 13 years ago, we should also note the differences.
Richard M. Nixon in 1974 had Gerald R. Ford as vice president, following the forced resignation of Spiro Agnew. Ford was not tainted by the Watergate affair. How deeply Ronald Reagan's vice president, George Bush, is involved in Iran-contra-White House has yet to be revealed.