The suffix “-gate” has been the go-to add-on for any number of scandals in what is of course an homage to the break-in into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate Hotel in Washington, D.C. in 1972. That deed was perpetrated by goons working at the behest of the Nixon administration, and eventually it led to the only resignation of a U.S. president. Use of “-gate” has become so prevalent that Wikipedia has an entire page entitled, “List of scandals with ‘-gate’ suffix.”
At some point, the origins of “-gate” are likely to become unknown to a majority of Americans (if they’re not already), but no matter, “-gate” is probably here to stay for a very long time. The latest to come down the pike is of course, “Deflategate,” in which after Sunday’s AFC Championship game, the New England Patriots were found to be using footballs in the first half that were not inflated with sufficient pounds per square inch of air to meet the requirements stipulated in the NFL’s rule book. “Deflategate” is catchy because it rhymes, and also for some reason the thought of things deflating is almost inherently funny.
But along the way, some people and websites started calling it “Ballghazi,” which isn’t a laughing matter. And I laugh at almost anything. (Please tweet to me any good dead baby or Russo-Japanese War jokes.)
The list of sites using this portmanteau reads like who’s who of digital media: Deadspin, Slate, Mediaite, CBS Sports, SB Nation, Christian Science Monitor, Denver Post, and on and on. This is dumb for a couple of reasons. First of all, Deflategate isn’t a terror attack and no one has died in it. Although if Commissioner Roger Goodell comes down hard on Patriots coach Bill Belichick, don’t be surprised if the commish gets a visit from Aaron Hernandez if the former Patriots tight end gets acquitted or ever gets out on work release. Benghazi, of course, is the other part of the this equation, and was the site of the storming of the U.S. consulate in in Libya in 2012, where four people died, including the U.S. ambassador.
Secondly, Benghazi was not — I repeat, was not — a scandal. The Republican-controlled House’s own intelligence committee cleared the Obama administration of wrongdoing last year. It found no evidence for GOP’s major allegations, namely that the White House withheld military resources, issued a stand-down order, and subsequently lied about it all to cover it up. Of course, any investigation into the actions of Obama that exonerates him is unacceptable for many Republicans, which is why people like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) just can’t let it go.
Alas, some Americans can’t either. But if you’re not one of them, and you’re using “Ballghazi” to describe the Patriots under-inflated ball scandal, in essence you’re saying the allegations against them are bullshit, just like Benghazi. Well, that and you’re equating deflated footballs with a terror attack and a quadruple homicide.