The New Enemies List

The New Enemies List
May 23, 2013

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)

The firestorm around the White House is only going to grow with the knowledge  that the administration targeted Fox News’ reporter James Rosen for doing  nothing more than being a reporter. Kirsten  Powers:  “Turns out it’s a fairly swift sojourn from a president  pushing to “delegitimize” a news organization to threatening criminal  prosecution for journalistic activity by a Fox News reporter, James Rosen, to  spying on Associated Press reporters. In between, the Obama administration found  time to relentlessly persecute government whistleblowers and publicly harass and  condemn a private American citizen for expressing his constitutionally protected  speech in the form of an anti-Islam YouTube video. Where were the media when all  this began happening? With a few exceptions, they were acting as quiet  enablers.” Ryan Lizza’s frustration is evident here.  For members of the media, the warrant to essentially invade every aspect of Rosen’s life – private email accounts and  more – is a chilling read.

The White House knew about the IRS scandal far earlier than it first acknowledged – but senior staff  reportedly decided to keep the president in a bubble. “The White House says  McDonough and the other advisers did not tell President Barack Obama about the  impending report, leaving him to learn the results from news reports later. The  White House defended the decision to keep the president in the dark, with press  secretary Jay Carney saying Obama was comfortable with the fact that "some  matters are not appropriate to convey to him, and this is one of them.” Here  again the White House has been inconsistent – Reid Epstein counts five different versions of their storyline. That’s sure to quiet the questions  from the media

Jillian Melchior tells  us what it’s like to be targeted by the feds. “That February, True the Vote received a third request for information from the IRS, which also sent its first  questionnaire to King Street Patriots. Catherine says the IRS had “hundreds of  questions — hundreds and hundreds of questions.” The IRS requested every  Facebook post and Tweet she had ever written. She received questions about her  family, whether she’d ever run for political office, and which organizations she  had spoken to… On the same day they received the questions from the IRS,  Catherine says, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF)  launched an unscheduled audit of their machine shop, forcing the Engelbrechts to  drop everything planned for that day. Though the Engelbrechts have a Class 7  license, which allows them to make component parts for guns, they do not  manufacture firearms. Catherine said that while the ATF had a right to conduct  the audit, “it was odd that they did it completely unannounced, and they took  five, six hours... It was so extensive. It just felt kind of weird.”

What’s disturbing about the Engelbrecht story is how government agencies impact every arena of life and work – there is no escaping it. And this is not a new  problem, or one tied to the federal government alone, as John Kass notes.  “One Sunday, I must have been 12 or 13, I decided to ask what I thought was an  intelligent question that was something like this: We talk politics every  Sunday, we fight about this and that, so why aren't you politically active  outside? Why don't you get involved in politics? There was an immediate silence.  The older cousins looked away. The aunts and uncles stared at me in horror, as  if I'd just announced I was selling heroin after school. You could hear them  breathing. No one spoke. I could feel myself blushing… I couldn't understand how  we could argue about politics over baklava and watermelon and coffee, but not  put it into practice. We could support a political candidacy, we could donate or  work for one or another politician that we agreed with. This is America, I said.  "Are you in your good senses?" said my father. "We have lives here. We have  businesses. If we get involved in politics, they will ruin us.”

At its root, James Taranto sees these scandals as the consequence of too much moral crusading in our politics.  “Today's liberal left conceives of itself as being on the side of all that is  good, right and reasonable. It caricatures the right as racist, extremist,  greedy, dishonest, fanatically religious, prone to violence – and dangerous  because, through the Republican Party, it has maintained parity in the political  arena. Of the 10 presidential elections since Watergate, each party won 5; and  voters haven't entrusted the Democrats with full control of government for more  than two years since the Carter era. If ordinary politics are a battle between  good and evil, then winning becomes an overriding moral imperative. The end  justifies the means.” And that problem goes deeper than just one president – it  is a cultural trend which rots the foundation of the public square.

[First published at Real Clear Politics]

Benjamin Domenech

Benjamin Domenech (bdomenech@heartland.org) is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute. Domenech... (read full bio)