You can get a measure of that from the things politicians are willing to do that don’t violate the law (necessarily, at least — there are still some open questions) and yet serve to maintain or increase their personal power and influence.
A full list would run to the length of a book, but let’s recall a few that have been in the news and then move on to things that happened just in the past couple of weeks.
An administration that thinks it is a good idea to give guns to Mexican gangs through the “Fast and Furious” program for the possible purpose of making it look as though U.S. gun laws were lax might not cavil at other things — and this one isn’t.
It also has been pursuing states that want to improve their protections against voter fraud through Vote ID programs by charging them with attempting to suppress minority votes — despite the states’ offers of free IDs to anyone who can prove their eligibility. Texas and South Carolina have been targeted in this effort, and others are having to defend themselves as well.
Democrats deny that voter fraud is a problem, but note that a new book, “Who’s Counting?”, has found that there were 1,099 ballots cast illegally by convicted felons in a 2008 race that Democratic Sen. Al Franken won in Minnesota by 312 votes.
Perhaps we can see why the Justice Department isn’t interested in having states impose strict voter eligibility requirements.
Then there’s the mostly untold story of how the IRS is pursuing Tea Party groups but not paying any attention to equivalent organizations on the left.
According to Jordan Sekulow of the American Center for Law and Justice, which represents about two dozen Tea Party groups that have applied for tax-exempt status, the agency has “specifically singled out Tea Party groups across the country, demanding that they provide intrusive, personal information about their members. The information that the IRS is demanding goes far and beyond the scope of any information that the IRS needs in order to grant tax-exempt status and violates the First Amendment.”
Sekulow continues: “The irony, and more likely the intentionality, here is that the IRS has targeted groups who want a smaller IRS: small government, lower taxes, and less spending. What they are hoping for is that these citizen-led groups, which do not have extensive resources beyond their volunteers, will simply give up and say it’s not worth the hassle to exercise our constitutional right to freedom of assembly and free speech.”
In addition, the administration is trampling the Constitution via the Health and Human Services rule that shoots holes through the First Amendment by making religious employers fund insurance coverage for abortion-causing drugs. If this ploy succeeds, not only will many valuable religious charities be shut down, but the power grab will inevitably expand to cover other areas of religious liberty.
Meanwhile, it has become clear that the administration will do and say anything — anything at all — to get President Obama re-elected. And it doesn’t care that the charges are false, because they put the GOP on the defensive by having to respond to them and thus cannot spend that time pointing out Obama’s real flaws.
They also correctly think, as analysts have noted, that some people will see the charges but not the responses, and thus tar Mitt Romney in the minds of a significant number of voters.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid’s claim without evidence that Mitt Romney has paid no federal income taxes for 10 years leads off the list, but even accusing your opponent of potentially committing a crime pales in comparison to calling him a murderer — and yet that is what Obama’s campaign is now doing.
It has been running a new ad featuring a worker who says he was laid off from a company closed by Bain Capital, the firm Mitt Romney managed for a time, and thus lost his health insurance.
“A short time later,” the worker says, his wife took sick and was discovered to have Stage 4 cancer — and then died.
As it turns out, CNN has reported, the family had health insurance for the first two years after the worker’s layoff, the “short time” after that in which the family was without insurance until the diagnosis was more than five years, and the person who actually shut down the company subsequently went on to be a campaign contributions “bundler” for Obama.
And of course, Romney’s previous work with Bain also made it possible for some companies that might have failed to survive — and thus some workers who would have lost their jobs and benefits to keep them.
If the Romney campaign doesn’t find such a worker, and get him or her on the air saying how retaining health coverage saved some family member’s life, it is totally incompetent.
Finally, and almost simultaneously, reports surfaced (at dailycaller.com) that newly released emails showed that it was the Treasury Department, not the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corp., that made the decision that 20,000 non-union workers for General Motors parts supplier Delphi Inc. would have to lose their pension benefits so that unionized workers for Delphi and GM could keep theirs.
The emails directly contradict sworn testimony given in court by Obama administration officials.
Where’s the Romney ad on that?
It’s time to fight fire with fire, and if Mitt Romney won’t do that, he greatly lessens his chances to restore decency, honesty and truth to the Oval Office — from which it has been absent for almost four years.
M.D. Harmon, a retired journalist and military officer, is a free-lance writer. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org