Worse Than Watergate?


Michael G. Franc:

‘Enemies List,’ Updated


Many have compared the recent scandals to past presidential trespasses, such as Richard Nixon’s wiretapping of political “enemies” or Lyndon Johnson’s having the IRS audit them to silence or otherwise intimidate them. Those analogies are important, but mostly because understanding them properly teaches us what is new, and potentially more alarming, about the current IRS scandal.


The enemies list à la Obama, which targets entire classes of people or organizations, is more dangerous to a free and open society because it paves the way for more systemic and widespread abuses by government. It is spawned by an insidious philosophy that discounts the intrinsic value and uniqueness of individuals. Group traits such as ideology, religious beliefs, occupation, military status, and even gun ownership trump individual qualities and come to define the citizen in the eyes of the increasingly intrusive government.

And there is a pattern here. Today’s IRS scandal reminds us of the embarrassing revelations that emerged in April 2009, shortly after Mr. Obama assumed office. The Department of Homeland Security had sent a confused report on “rightwing extremism” to sheriffs and police departments nationwide. According to the report, the “extremists” under scrutiny included not only those who belonged to overtly racist groups but also, as the Washington Times reported, “groups that reject federal authority in favor of state or local authority” as well as “groups and individuals that are dedicated to a single issue, such as opposition to abortion or immigration.”

Similarly, the new revelations indicate that IRS officials targeted tea-party and other conservative outfits solely because they fit the profile of being “political action type organizations involved in limiting/expanding Government” or “educating on the Constitution and Bill of Rights.” Golly!

The identity politics practiced by these agencies challenges the very essence of our Founding. The understanding of liberty that prevailed at the Constitutional Convention began with an acceptance of the “inalienable rights” we possess as individuals. These rights inhere in us as human beings and predate the creation of any government. Our liberty is not apportioned to us according to the whims of government officials. Government, rather, exists to defend the liberties we already possess.

The nature of that liberty, moreover, presumes that we are free to plot our life’s trajectory, define our dreams as we choose, and act accordingly. We are not bound by predestination as defined by our race, gender, family lineage, occupation, wealth or poverty, world view, or any other criterion deemed important by the government.

I remember Watergate, and I am sure most of you do as well. It was one of the major formative events of my political identity and beliefs. But Watergate wasn’t a single event, it was a process that connected a series of events.

More than anything Watergate was about the abuse of power. I believe in the rule of law, and the abuse of power is incompatible with that belief. It’s bad enough when a badge-heavy cop violates people’s rights, but is several magnitudes worse when the law-breaking starts at the top.

Until recently my biggest fear with the Obama presidency was incompetence. I feared that more than corruption because we have survived corrupt presidents many times in the past, but most of them were competent crooks.

Recently I have come to fear something else much more than Obama’s corrupt incompetence. No previous administration has been so eager to use the power of the state against political opponents. That’s the definition of authoritarianism.

It really can happen here.


About Myiq2xu - BA, JD, FJB

I was born and raised in a different country - America. I don't know what this place is.
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54 Responses to Worse Than Watergate?

  1. myiq2xu says:

    The Bush administration abused power too, but on a smaller scale. I used to fear them, but in the end he left quietly when his term was over.

    In the past the press went after abuses of power, they didn’t try to cover them up.

    • I’m more worried abut the press than teh won. For so many of them to be ‘entickled’ this long surprises me. Market forces should have straightened it out by now – in my world, If they don’t break soon ‘the farm’ could be history.

      • Fox News’ through-the-roof, utterly dominating ratings are an indication that market forces have been brought to bear. The propaganda that Fox is actually Faux News is so widespread and ingrained (across the influential elite) that we are experiencing a reality warp. Tens of millions of people get their news from Fox, yet the powers that be tell us it’s all lies. Cognitive dissonance is one result, but a more pernicious one is the division of the regular people from the “elites.” They hate us, think we’re stupid, and we know it.

        But on the bright side, fox’s dominance tells me that the people crave and will reward a press that is free and willing to challenge the government.


      • Constance says:

        The only reason the slanted media “news” channels like MSNBC are still around is cable bundling. No one would actually pay for these channels, in a free market and they would be long gone.

  2. myiq2xu says:

    One of the things that came out of Watergate was the Church Committee Report. We need a new one.


  3. Lulu says:

    What is becoming increasingly clear is what many of us saw in 2007-2008 firsthand. There will be no dissent. No dissent of any kind will be tolerated. Bush II did it with foreign wars. Obama does it for everything. If he had been more patient and done it more gradually domestically he probably would have gotten away with it. He did get away with it within the Democratic party with the with the “good German” Democrats during his first prezzy campaign and first term. He and his hubris, and the sycophants who support and enable him, went crazy with the greed, abuse, and lying which is all too human. Now he is loosing Democrats who were all for his methods and goals, not all of them and probably not even a majority of them, but rather some very important ones like that old bastard chair of the Senate Finance committee. Max Baucus might want to be remembered as the Frank Church of his generation. He knows where the bodies are buried. When Obama Central starts smearing Baucus we will know it is getting really hot in the WH. He has sent out questionnaires to IRS that look like depositions in a fraud case.

    • yep, anyone paying attention to the 2008 dem primary (oh, why weren’t more people paying attention?!?) knew from the very beginning that the scariest and most odious thing about obama and his machine was their methods. On paper he was just another liberal-ish democrat with a fresh face and a good story. But the shallowest scratch of the surface revealed Intimidation, lies, smearing, fraud (I firmly believe that first $750mil he raised was significantly fraudulent), and outright cheating (TX caucuses anyone?). When he was in state office his corruption was small scale, as a prez candidate he ramped it up, but as president he has put the pedal to the metal. I admit that I’m actually shocked by how brazen and seriously dangerous this president and his white house are.

  4. 1539days says:

    Really, this should be it. Romney was right about the 47% because there should be about 80% of the country out there telling their Congressmen that Obama needs to be impeached. Instead, we have news media who have decided that their own reporters shouldn’t have been so aggressive that the White House had to punish them.

    Remember how outraged the press and the progs were about the Bush Administration firing about a half dozen members of the AG because the DOJ was supposed to be non-partisan? None of the replacements went after the press or refused to produce documents in contempt of Congress. They were more worried about the possibility of abuse of power then instead of the real abuse of power now.

    • fembotsforobama says:

      “They were more worried about the possibility of abuse of power then instead of the real abuse of power now.”

  5. driguana says:

    IS happening here right now……I would say.

  6. myiq2xu says:

    If I wake up in time I’m gonna live blog this one too:


    If not, hopefully somebody else will do it for me.

  7. votermom says:

    James Taranto in wsj

    A Crisis of Authority
    The deeper meaning of the Obama scandals.


    Democracy is in peril: That is an emerging theme of the liberal left’s response to the Obama scandals. The argument misses the point, no doubt deliberately. What we are witnessing now is not a crisis of democracy but a crisis of authority. The administrative state, in thrall to a decadent cultural elite, has lost the consent of the governed.

    If Obama is no savior, neither is he the devil. He is but a man who, through a combination of ambition, talent, character and luck, became the central figure in the left’s crisis of authority. That crisis had been building for decades, seems to be reaching a culmination now, and will be resolved we know not how, except that we expect the process to be convulsive.

    What if we’re wrong? What if the country collectively shrugs, loses interest in politics, and goes on with life? Then we really will be like China–or worse. …

    read the whole thing here

  8. votermom says:

  9. votermom says:

    In the same vein, a blogger makes the case on how the IRS scandal is the worst one in USA history (via ace)

    must read, imo


  10. votermom says:

  11. lyn says:

    The bastard needs to be impeached.

  12. votermom says:

  13. Watergate was bad, no doubt. I recently read some of the nixon tapes transcripts. The guy was unapologetically a power-mad petty tyrant.

    But a major difference for obama is that he always goes after the LITTLE GUY. Always. The kid in the Ryans divorce case, Alice Palmer, rural working class people (bitter clingers), hillary voters, Palin’s kids, Joe the Plumber, the Cambridge cop, George Zimmerman, and now we know that this isn’t simply some obnoxious trait of a dyed in the wool bully. Once he became president he actually used the massive weapons at his disposal (IRS, DOJ, FBI, ATF, HS, OSHA) to hurt and harrass and silence individual citizens. I dont give a shit about his psychological profile. But I do care about fellow citizens in the path of a person who has almost limitless power that he unleashes against them without a second thought. (he may not be able to literally execute you for standing up to him, but once the IRS, DOJ, and FBI are done with you you may wish you were dead)

    Nixon went after opposing campaigns and candidates. He used back-handed, illegal means to fight and defend himself (wrongly) against other power players. It’s dirty government, for sure, but it’s powerful people warring among themselves. This is so much worse. Zeus on Olympus battling with the other gods is one thing. When he starts hurling lightning bolts down on defenseless villagers we are in big fucking trouble.

  14. DeniseVB says:

    On a happier note, meet Mary Fallin, Oklahoma Governor ….


    She was interviewed on Fox earlier and I was really impressed with her so I looked her up. She broke alot of glass ceilings in OK, and an endorsement from Sarah Palin, the Queen Maker 😀

    My goodness the Lady Conservative bench is deep with amazing women. Gov. Fallin is one of them.

  15. Awesome article, votermom, thanks. I guess I should have read it before posting my last long comment. Could have just boiled it down to: “what she said.”

    “The absolute worst scandal that’s emerged lately, and the worst administration scandal in American history is the IRS scandal. Why? Because you, the People, became the targets of a comprehensive federal government effort to stifle dissent, one made using the government’s overwhelming and disproportionate policing and taxing powers.”


  16. votermom says:

    • upthread I was disparaging Beck (for his politics). Still think he’s whack, but that is amazing. Will the media give him the full, lionizing Sean Penn treatment?

      • votermom says:

        Yeah, I think he can be wacky too with predictions sometimes, but I really respect people who can put their money where their mouth is.
        I haven’t heard of his charity before, Mercury One.

      • DeniseVB says:

        Mitt Romney sent his campaign bus full of supplies to the Sandy victims and barely got a blip on the media radar.

        • votermom says:

          That’s because he puts women in binders then gives them cancer.

        • Lol. I’m still pissed about that faux outrage. Good christ, check the numbers — women in politics, engineering, finance, and science are actually DECLINING since the 80’s. Every frickin CEO should have a binder full of women’s resumes to identify qualified candidates. Day-um that one made me mad.

      • Constance says:

        I like Beck because he has a different take on things. I don’t need to agree with everything he says.

  17. yttik says:

    “It really can happen here…’

    It HAS happened, many times. It’s happening now. But one of the great things about this country is that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance. We get that in America, whether you’re a crazy Seattle anarchist, a confused Occupier, or a Tea Partier. Our politics might be all over the place, but resistance to government power is in our blood. Underneath all the crap, the ideology, the partisanship, that’s where you will find the vast majority of Americans, even when we don’t really understand what we’re protesting against.

  18. votermom says:

    live-blog post up

  19. fif says:

    It’s also a large scale version of what they have done in Chicago for decades. The same corruption, bullying, intimidation and fraud to silence or destroy opponents. This is clearly an extension of the pattern that was already there, visible for anyone with an objective eye.

    On another note: my parents saw old family friends this weekend. She was a teacher for decades and he was the school principal. They still “love” Obama and think he’s the smartest president we’ve ever had.

    There is a serious disconnect because of the lack of a free, objective press to explain these truly frightening details to the public. The information that is coming out re: the IRS gestapo tactics is chilling.

    • Erica says:

      I have some really bright and wonderful friends who are still agog with 0. Absolutely have no qualms about him at all. It’s mindboggling, but I think you’re right, the corruption of the media plays a big role.

  20. Propertius says:

    I’ve actually come to view the Administration’ incompetence as a positive feature, since it limits the extent to which they can exercise their authoritarian impulses. For example, they probably would have managed to sweep Benghazi and the IRS debacle under the rug if they hadn’t made the mistake of spying on members of the press. The press isn’t particularly interested in anybody else’s rights anymore, but God help the regime that screws with one of their own.

    I’m just glad the Chicago Junta isn’t as smart as they think they are – if they were we’d be in a world of hurt right now.

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