Victor Davis Hanson

What would a president do if he were furious over criticism, or felt that his noble aims justified most means of attaining them?

Answer that by comparing the behavior of Richard Nixon to that of an increasingly similar Barack Obama.

Nixon tried to use the Internal Revenue Service to go after his political enemies -- although his IRS chiefs at least refused his orders to focus on liberals.

Nixon ignored settled law and picked and chose which statutes he would enforce -- from denying funds for the Clean Water Act to ignoring congressional subpoenas.

Nixon attacked TV networks and got into personal arguments with journalists such as CBS's Dan Rather.

Nixon wanted the Federal Communications Commission to hold up the licensing of some television stations on the basis of their political views.

Nixon went after "enemies." He ordered surveillance to hound his suspected political opponents and was paranoid about leaks.

Now, consider how President Obama has directed government, as opposed to the platitudes he has offered about how it should operate.

The IRS? So far, the Obama-era IRS has succeeded in hounding nonprofit Tea Party groups into political irrelevancy. By holding up rulings on nonprofit status, the IRS ensured that the Tea Party's big political wins of 2010 would not be a factor in the president's 2012 re-election bid. Disgraced former IRS official Lois Lerner headed the division that focused inordinately on conservative groups. But she has refused to answer questions to Congress -- invoking the Fifth Amendment to protect herself from self-incrimination.

The FCC? According to FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai, Obama's agency, until outrage arose, had planned "to ask station managers, news directors, journalists, television anchors and on-air reporters to tell the government about their 'news philosophy' and how the station ensures that the community gets critical information." In other words, Obama FCC appointees dreamed of predicating federal licensing on having politically correct views similar to their own.

Enemies? Federal authorities jailed a video maker for a minor probation violation after the Obama administration falsely blamed him for causing a riot that led to the deaths of four Americans in Benghazi in September 2012. In truth, the attack was an organized terrorist hit facilitated by our own lax security.


Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal.