The IRS Burned the Straw Men of ‘Enemies’ Obama Created in 2010

The IRS Burned the Straw Men of ‘Enemies’ Obama Created in 2010
June 10, 2013

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)

The logic of the title of this post becomes clear when one reads the political timeline by theWall Street Journal’s Kimberley Strassel that connects IRS harassment of Tea Party groups to the very specific rhetoric of President Obama and his Democratic Party allies.

Perhaps the only useful part of the inspector general’s audit of the IRS was its timeline. We know that it was August 2010 when the IRS issued its first “Be On the Lookout” list, flagging applications containing key conservative words and issues. The criteria would expand in the months to come.

What else was happening in the summer and fall of 2010? The Obama administration and its allies continue to suggest the IRS was working in some political vacuum. What they’d rather everyone forget is that the IRS’s first BOLO list coincided with their own attack against “shadowy” or “front” conservative groups that they claimed were rigging the electoral system.

Strassel’s breakdown of the coordination of communications among leftist journalists, the Democrats, and the president is damning. Definitely read the whole thing. Her piece is a stark reminder of this extraordinary and chilling fact: In the summer of 2010, President Obama personally engaged in a campaign to lie about and demonize private citizens who were exercising their constitutionally protected right to form associations to communicate their displeasure with the state of American governance.

Clearly, judging from his rhetoric and ill temperament, Obama took that opposition as a personal affront — so he spent the summer of 2010 publicly channeling his old community organizing mojo by going to the playbook of Saul Alinsky’s “Rules for Radicals,” specifically:

  • Rule 8 (“Keep the pressure on. Never let up.”)
  • Rule 10 (“The major premise for tactics is the development of operations that will maintain a constant pressure upon the opposition.”), and especially
  • Rule 13 (“Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.”)

Did he ever, and Obama certainly thought going Full Alinsky was justified.

It seems so long ago now, but fewer than three years ago Barack Obama was still smarting from the loss of his veto-proof Democratic majority in Congress via the special election in January 2010 of Republican Scott Brown for Ted Kennedy’s Massachusetts Senate seat. Just a few months before, in late 2009, Obama had used his super majority to shove Obamacare down the throat of an unwilling public — and he was determined to not have his power reduced one iota more in the 2010 midterms.

He failed. History records that the Tea Party Revolution came about in November 2010. But the vitriolic rhetoric our president employed to try to stop that history — his personal attacks on his fellow citizens — is still breathtaking.

On August 9, 2010, Obama said this at a campaign rally in Texas:

Right now all around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads . . . And they don’t have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation.

I remember talking to folks at AFP at the time and they laughed it off. They considered it a high compliment to be called out by name by Barack Obama. Who could blame them? It was PR gold! AFP attracted tons more grassroots supporters thanks to that angry hat-tip from the sitting president.

But the fact that AFP was founded and is chiefly funded by the eeeeevvvvvilllll Koch Brothers is the most over-reported story in politics. For Obama, however, it was not good enough to simply highlight AFP’s link to the Koch Brothers. Obama on August 9, 2010 suggested AFP’s funding might have come from “a foreign-controlled corporation.”

This is a lie. Obama knew it was a lie, but continued to say it — even in his weekly radio address, which leveraged the prestige of the Oval Office for the low purpose of brass-knuckled, Chicago-style politics. Obama spoke of:

attack ads run by shadowy groups with harmless-sounding names. We don’t know who’s behind these ads and we don’t know who’s paying for them. . . . You don’t know if it’s a foreign-controlled corporation. . . . The only people who don’t want to disclose the truth are people with something to hide.

Something to hide, eh? “Harmless-sounding names,” you say? What about Obama’s Organizing for America, or the lefty trolls at Media Matters? Those “shadowy groups” have the same tax status and anonymous-donor allowances as AFP — and that is by design so those supporters may be protected as a matter of law from Alinsky-type retaliation from political enemies … such as, say, the President of the United States.

Here’s more reporting from Strassel on Obama’s attacks and bald-faced lies:

Sept. 16: Mr. Obama, in Connecticut, repeats that a “foreign-controlled entity” might be funding “millions of dollars of attack ads.” Four days later, in Philadelphia, he again says the problem is that “nobody knows” who is behind conservative groups. …

Sept. 22: In New York City, Mr. Obama warns that conservative groups “pose as non-for-profit, social welfare and trade groups,” even though they are “guided by seasoned Republican political operatives” who might be funded by a “foreign-controlled corporation.” … [Editor's note: Organizing for America is staffed and "guided" by former Obama political operatives.]

Sept. 28: The president, in Wisconsin, again warns about conservative organizations “posing as nonprofit groups.” Sen. Max Baucus, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, writes to the IRS demanding it investigate nonprofits. The letter names conservative organizations.

On Oct. 14, Mr. Obama calls these groups “a problem for democracy.” On Oct. 22, he slams those who “hide behind these front groups.” On Oct. 25, he upgrades them to a “threat to our democracy.” On Oct. 26, he decries groups engaged in “unsupervised spending.”

As Strassel wrote several weeks ago, MSM reporters seeking to connect the Obama White House to the IRS scandal appear to be willfully blind. The dots were already connected. The picture — the narrative — of this story has been out in the open the whole time.

So let us now clearly see the strategic and coordinated language of 2010 and beyond from our president, Barack Obama — the Lightworker, the higher spiritual being, the man Newsweek’s Evan Thomas said stands above us as a “Sort of God.” Let’s also remember that Obama the presidential candidate promised in 2008 to raise our politics to a new, higher, more enlightened level. Back then he asked voters this question:

Do we participate in a politics of cynicism or a politics of hope?

That man — an inspiration to countless millions who would soon become the most powerful man in the world — repeatedly said just two years later that all those who organized to oppose his policies are “a problem for democracy” when his agenda was at risk. Check that, Obama said they are a “threat to our democracy”.

Yet we are now supposed to believe it is merely a coincidence that the IRS — the most intimidating agency in the federal government led by dedicated Democrats — harassed and stifled the very same groups the President of the United States called out as his “enemies” with a level of persistent and specific calumny unprecedented in our politics.

No. The IRS was merely burning the straw men Obama and his allies constructed with careful and planned coordination — with an alarming reflexive vigor.

Let’s stop insulting everyone’s intelligence. Let’s stop wondering if the IRS scandal will eventually “go to the top.” The IRS scandal started at the top.

Jim Lakely

Jim Lakely is director of communications at The Heartland Institute, co-director of Heartland’s... (read full bio)