**Posted by Phineas
Imagine government singling out private citizens for attack and innuendo, to serve as whipping boys in order to distract the public from the president’s failings and boost his reelection chances. Imagine having your tax returns publicly questioned by government officials, thus planting the idea of wrongdoing in the public’s mind whether you’ve done anything or not. Imagine being turned into a focus for a national “two minutes hate” by desperate politicos.
That’s what’s going on with the Koch brothers, libertarian-leaning billionaires who oppose President Obama’s policies, and their representative, former Solicitor General Ted Olson, has had enough: Obama’s Enemies List.
What Messrs. Koch do, in fact, is manage businesses that provide employment to more than 50,000 people in North America in legitimate, productive industries. They also give millions of dollars to medical researchers, hospitals and cultural institutions. Their biggest offense, apparently, is that they also contribute generously to nonprofit organizations that promote personal liberty and free enterprise, and some of those organizations oppose policies advocated by the president.
Richard Nixon maintained an”enemies list” that singled out private citizens for investigation and abuse by agencies of government, including the Internal Revenue Service. When that was revealed, the press and public were outraged. That conduct will forever remain one of the indelible stains on Nixon’s presidency and legacy.
When Joseph McCarthy engaged in comparable bullying, oppression and slander from his powerful position in the Senate, he was censured by his colleagues and died in disgrace.”McCarthyism,” defined by Webster’s as the “use of unfair investigative and accusatory methods to suppress opposition,” will forever be synonymous with un-Americanism. Army counsel Joseph Welch’s “Have you no sense of decency?” are words that evoke the McCarthy era and diminish the reputations of his colleagues who did nothing to stand up to him.
He then explains the larger problem this presents to civil society and the rule of law, beyond its inherent injustice toward the Koch brothers:
In this country, we regard the use of official power to oppress or intimidate private citizens as a despicable abuse of authority and entirely alien to our system of a government of laws. The architects of our Constitution meticulously erected a system of separated powers, and checks and balances, precisely in order to inhibit the exercise of tyrannical power by governmental officials.
Our Constitution even explicitly prohibits bills of attainder so that Congress may not single out individual citizens or groups for disfavored treatment or unequal application of the force of government. Prosecutorial power is rigidly constrained and judicially supervised so that government may not accuse private citizens of crimes or investigate them without good cause.
Whoever may be the victim of such abuse of governmental authority, the press and public almost invariably unify with indignation against it. If a journalist, labor-union leader or community organizer on the left can be targeted today, an academic or business person on the right can be the target tomorrow. If we fail to stand up against oppression from one direction, we abdicate the moral authority to challenge it when it comes from another.
So, for freely expressing their opinions, as is the right of every American, Charles and David Koch become Obama’s Emmanuel Goldstein. Lucky them.
Of course, as Conn Carroll points out, Obama and the Democrats have to resort to these cheap, vile tactics because they cannot run on their record: ObamaCare is hated and the administration’s economic record is nothing short of miserable. All that’s left is class warfare and the personal vilification of American citizens.
This isn’t anything new, however; targeting individuals is a habit for them, an instinct. Early in the administration, Obama went after FOX News and Rush Limbaugh, and his allies in the media spent years demonizing and harassing Sarah Palin, even after she had resigned her office. Their main political strategy comes from Saul Alinsky’s Rule 13:
Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it.
Once this line of attack has played out in a few weeks or months, you can bet Obama will find another target, and another, and another.
Again, he has nothing else to run on, save hate.
Be sure to read the whole thing.
(Crossposted at Public Secrets)