If Godwin’s Law states that whoever first raises a comparison to Nazis in an online argument automatically “loses,” then there surely ought to be a similar rule for comparisons to Watergate. And if there was one, Sarah Palin would have just lost.
Palin was elated on Friday when the college student who hacked into her personal email account during the 2008 presidential campaign was convicted on two out of four charges resulting from the incident.
David Kernell, the son of a Tennessee state legislator, was found guilty of unauthorized access of a computer and obstruction of justice but not guilty of wire fraud. The judge declared a mistrial on a charge of identity theft, after the jury was unable to agree. No date was set for sentencing, but the obstruction of justice charge, which is a felony, could bring a jail term of up to 20 years.
“My family and I are thankful that the jury thoroughly and carefully weighed the evidence and issued a just verdict,” Palin wrote on her Facebook page. “Besides the obvious invasion of privacy and security concerns surrounding this issue, many of us are concerned about the integrity of our countryÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s political elections. AmericaÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s elections depend upon fair competition. Violating the law, or simply invading someoneÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s privacy for political gain, has long been repugnant to AmericansÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ sense of fair play. As Watergate taught us, we rightfully reject illegally breaking into candidatesÃ¢â‚¬â„¢ private communications for political intrigue in an attempt to derail an election.”
Blogger Juli Weiner at Vanity Fair was quick to mock Palin’s reaction in a post titled “Palin ‘Hacker’ Convicted of Computer Fraud, Which Palin Says Is Totally Like Watergate.”
“The dumb 22-year-old kid who broke into Sarah PalinÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Yahoo e-mail account by guessing the answer (‘Wasilla High’) to her security question (‘Where did you meet your husband?’) has been convicted of two of the four charges Palin pressed against him,” Weiner wrote. After quoting Palin’s Watergate comparison, she then noted ascerbically, “A bored, twenty-something college student: truly the Richard Nixon of our time.”
At Andrew Breitbart’s Big Journalism site, however, blogger Dana Loesch took the opportunity of the verdict to complain that liberal website Media Matters had ignored the Kendall case in comparison with their numerous stories on the misdeeds of Breitbart’s protege, “ACORN pimp” James O’Keefe.
Loesch also contrasted an LA Times item describing Kendall as the victim of a lynch mob mentality with one on O’Keefe which began by noting that “he was born about 13 years after five men were arrested for trying to bug the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate complex in Washington.”
It seems we really do need that equivalent of Godwin’s Law — and the sooner the better.