This is the flashing red headline on Drudge this morning. First we were told there was a mysterious glitch in the IRS network that resulted in the loss of only the e-mails under subpoena. Now we are being told that the IRS is the only organization on the planet that does not backup its e-mail system. Instead, they rely on users to take care of that on their own, along with securing their own government issued laptops.
It was a very long time ago, so no one is supposed to think about it anymore, but Richard Nixon was run out of office for exactly this sort of thing. In fact, Nixon was chased off for talking about it. He did not actually have the IRS out harassing political opponents. it is not even clear if he talked about or simply allowed his people to discuss it in his presence. The mere hint of it was enough. Now, Magic Black Man can actually have the IRS harassing people and it is no problem.
This is from the articles of impeachment for Mr. Nixon, way back in the disco era.
Article #2 Section #1:
He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.
He misused the Federal Bureau of Investigation, the Secret Service, and other executive personnel, in violation or disregard of the constitutional rights of citizens, by directing or authorizing such agencies or personnel to conduct or continue electronic surveillance or other investigations for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; he did direct, authorize, or permit the use of information obtained thereby for purposes unrelated to national security, the enforcement of laws, or any other lawful function of his office; and he did direct the concealment of certain records made by the Federal Bureau of Investigation of electronic surveillance.
The whole sorry episode has been washed down the drain of history, but the IRS stuff was probably the most outrageous at the time. The Watergate break-in was a big deal, but it was clear Nixon did not know about it before it happened. It was not all that clear he knew about it before it became a big deal in he press. It is where we get the expression, “It is not the crime, it is the cover-up.”
At the time, the stuff that truly offended the people as well as the political class was the potential misuse of the IRS and FBI. It is not all that clear Nixon ever ordered anything of the sort. It is less clear that anyone else seriously tried to use the IRS as a political weapon. We now know that the FBI was corrupt in ways independent of Nixon so that’s a different story. Hoover created a monster that has never truly been tamed.
The FBI had been out of control for decades, but the IRS appears to have been fairly clean. You’re always going to have some level of corruption. When you’re dealing with sensitive data like taxes, petty abuse is inevitable. What led to including the IRS in the articles of impeachment was the mere suggestion of using the IRS for political purposes. The worst you can say about Nixon and the IRS is he would have abused it if it were a different organization.
That’s what makes this story so outrageous. This administration appears to have turned the IRS into an organization that can and was used as a political weapon. In other words, Team Obama went well past anything Nixon imagined. They have corrupted a government agency that was resistant to the Nixon people. Nixon’s corruption meter may have been pegged at ten, but Obama’s goes to eleven.
What this should do, but most likely won’t, is throw cold water on Conservative Inc and their fantasies about the Left. For decades the Left held Nixon up as the poster child for bad government. Today, they are defending a guy who makes Nixon look like a Boy Scout. These are not people who are merely mistaken. They are not people with whom you can have honest dealings. These are not men of principle. The best you can say about them is they are mendacious, cynical opportunist. In reality, they are religious fanatics. Pretending otherwise is suicide.