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It’s time to close, and lock, the ‘-gate’

Posted: March 13, 2014 10:03 a.m.
Updated: March 14, 2014 5:00 a.m.

The Watergate scandal. It all started with the June 17, 1972, break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters inside the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and resulted more than two years later in the first resignation by a sitting U.S. President. I was 14 at the time of the break-in and I remember it well. It seemed like that was all that was on the national TV newscasts for that entire two years and beyond. If Hollywood is to be believed, the break-in was first noticed and reported by a simple man from Greenbow, Ala., named Forrest Gump. But as Forrest himself might say, “I don’t know too much about that.”

Bigger than the break-in itself was the purported cover up by Pres. Richard Nixon and members of his administration. There were senate hearings and talk of impeachment proceedings. As the evidence against Nixon grew and his support from Congress faltered, he saw the proverbial “writing on the wall” and resigned in August 1974.

The entire incident became known simply as “Watergate,” which was entirely appropriate, as it started at the Watergate. But that was 42 years ago. I would never advocate that we should forget about what happened back then. It’s history and worth remembering. But what I would love to see is that we no longer tack the suffix “gate” onto any scandal that comes down the pike. I’m tired of it and have been for years. Enough is enough and I’ve had more than enough. Enough already!

Fast forward more than 10 years later. In November 1986, it came to light that the administration of Pres. Ronald Reagan had sold weapons to Iran and used the proceeds to fund Nicaraguan Contras. Funding the Contras was prohibited by Congress under The Boland Amendment, passed a couple of years before the scandal broke. Remember how the incident came to be known? Yep -- Contragate. Some called it the “Iran-Contra Affair,” which was the accurate name, but the Contragate moniker stuck, with nary a gate in sight.

My friends at list no less than 113 controversies that are tagged as “gate” scandals, from all around the globe. There’s no way I can or would list them all here, so let’s hit a few you may remember, in no particular order.

Tigergate -- a series of alleged and admitted marital infidelities by golf superstar Tiger Woods.

Spygate -- involved the New England Patriots videotaping the defensive signals of the New York Jets during an NFL game in 2007.

Napgate -- Seattle Mariners’ baseball star Ken Griffey Jr. was accused of being asleep in the clubhouse in May 2010. Griffey did not deny the accusation and quit the team a month later.

Dopegate -- famed cyclist Lance Armstrong’s performance enhancing drug scandal.

Weinergate -- U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner was accused and later admitted to sending photos of his “namesake” via Twitter in 2011.

Monicagate -- Bill Clinton and Monica Lewinsky. ’Nuff said.

Fajitagate -- three off-duty San Fransisco policemen were accused in 2002 of accosting two civilians who had a bag of steak fajitas the officers mistook for drugs.

Camillagate -- a tape of telephone conversations between Prince Charles and his then mistress, Camilla Parker Bowles, was leaked.

And … drum roll, please. The most recent “gate” and the one that inspired me to finally go on this rant.

Bridgegate -- the controversy surrounding New Jersey Gov. Chris Christy that members of his staff ordered lane closures on the George Washington Bridge, causing a massive traffic jam on the first day of the 2013-2014 school year.

I propose we just say what we mean and call things what they actually are. We are well beyond the point where the “gate” should be closed forever, or unless and until, of course, something else scandalous happens at The Watergate. Until then, stop short of the gate.  


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