It’s a great scene in the greatest movie sequel ever made, The Godfather: Part II. A U.S. senator from Nevada, on the mob payroll, is questioning a midlevel subordinate of the Corleone family testifying before a Senate committee on organized crime. The senator is trying to establish that the underling he’s grilling never received a direct order from Michael Corleone to kill anybody.
Senator: Was there always a buffer involved? Someone in between you and your possible superiors who gave the actual orders?
Underling: Right. Yeah. A buffer. The family had a lot of buffers. (Laughter)
President Obama didn’t need to order the bureaucrats of the IRS to do his bidding. His daily rhetoric laid the foundation. And he put into positions of leadership of our nation’s biggest bureaucracies some of the most partisan political buffers this country has ever seen — buffers with scant experience in the private sector and, in many cases, outright hostility to business. It was President Obama who made Van Jones a household name. And Elizabeth Warren. And Lisa Jackson. And Eric Holder. And Kathleen Sebelius. And Louise Lerner, who ran the tax-exemption office of the IRS — after she had racked up a sordid track record at the FEC, hounding the Christian Coalition and a conservative challenger to Senator Dick Durbin in the late 1990s.
Obama’s buffers make the Corleone buffers look like lightweights. They’re Luca Brasi bureaucrats with Ph.D.’s, and much more powerful weapons of intimidation than guns and knives. They have thousands of pages of federal regulations — and the power to interpret and enforce those byzantine regulations as they see fit, when they see fit.
While it’s true that this IRS scandal is no Watergate, and that President Obama is not Richard Nixon, the story may prove to be more damaging to the Left than Watergate was to the GOP. Watergate, after all, wasn’t about a party’s philosophy; it was about one man’s paranoia, and criminality.
The IRS scandal is about much more. It’s about lifetime bureaucrats who are unelected and unaccountable and who yield all kinds of power over ordinary Americans, including the power to punish or scare people with whom they don’t agree. And the power to abuse their power because . . . they can.
This story is really about the administrative state grown wild. And gone wild.
President Obama’s chief consigliere, David Axelrod, was on TV recently defending his boss, but he actually made the case against everything his boss (and the Left) believes and presented the best case imaginable for conservatives when he said this on MSNBC’s Morning Joe: “Part of being president is there’s so much underneath that you can’t know, because the government is so vast.”
This is precisely what our Founders worried about when they created the Constitution. They built a legal framework that was all about dispersal of power. The Left’s legal framework is all about the distribution of wealth, which requires concentrating power in the permanently entrenched bureaucracies of Washington, D.C. It is precisely what the tea-party advocates believe: that our administrative state has grown too unwieldy. And the IRS went ahead and proved it.