The president of the United States isn’t going to give a direct order to sic the IRS on a group of people anymore than he would order the break in of his political opponents’ headquarters. But he can set the tone where, with a wink and a nod, people close to him can feel comfortable encouraging it. He’d never have to order State Department officials to hinder whistleblowers; he’d simply have in place rabidly loyal partisans who know what’s expected of them. Plausible deniability isn’t just a horrible band name, it’s a way of life in this White House.
While there may not be a direct line of orders from the Oval Office leading to the actions of his subordinates, the president was the direct beneficiary of, and motivation for, the actions of those who abused their power. These scandals are a direct result of supporters of the president using their positions of trust and authority to harm the president’s opponents and keep him in office, which, yes, does put them on par with Watergate.
Iran-Contra did not aid President Reagan in any political way; it was designed to do what Democrats didn’t want done –fight communists in Central America. Even Bill Clinton’s sexcapades weren’t exposed until after he’d won reelection and, although perjury is a serious crime, his was of little national consequence. Watergate and what we’re seeing exposed in Washington now were all to the political benefit of the president on whose watch they occurred.
The delay of 501(c)(4) status for many groups that would have helped educate and motivate voters hindered the opposition to the president. The lies and stifling of the truth in the Benghazi cover-up aided the president by not exposing his fecklessness as a leader in a time of crisis. Though the extent to which the administration had gone to punish government workers who’d leaked information not approved for leaking (meaning information that didn’t reflect favorably on the president) and the journalists who’d reported it, the fact they were punishing leakers was well known to those with access to information damaging to the president. Leaks making him look strong, such as his drone “kill list,” were given by high-level officials to the New York Times; inconvenient stories were met with prosecutions for those who told them.
The extent to which this collaboration between government power and progressive activism masquerading as bureaucratic action affected the 2012 election can only be speculated about, but its significance cannot be brushed aside. Nor can the fact people in positions of trust and authority, people who knew better and acted contrary to their duty anyway for their political agenda, violated their constitutional duties. Time will tell whether this was done with Barack Obama’s knowledge, on his orders or simply inspired by him, but it makes little difference. The president of the United States was the ultimate and direct beneficiary of illegal, immoral and unethical actions of people he either oversees, appointed or has promoted since their actions benefitted him.
No matter which president we have, the hands-on mastermind or the indifferent slacker, the actions of him and the people around him make a third-rate burglary seem quaint.