Obama Is Not Nixon

Equating the two is like concluding that babies are like poisonous snakes because some of them have rattles.

"The only thing new in the world is the history you don't know," said Harry Truman, who made it his task to absorb a lot of it. Many people who have not followed his example are not averse to using what little they do know, with the inadvertent effect of exposing how much they have to learn.

In recent days, those people have triumphantly likened Barack Obama to Richard Nixon, particularly on the misuse of the Internal Revenue Service for political advantage. In 1974, the House Judiciary Committee voted to impeach Nixon because, among other reasons, he tried to cause "income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner."

This, of course, is exactly what the IRS now admits doing when it singled out conservative groups for special scrutiny. The Treasury Department's Inspector General found, "The IRS used inappropriate criteria that identified for review Tea Party and other organizations applying for tax-exempt status based upon their names or policy positions."

The misconduct happened under the current president. Therefore, Obama = Nixon.

But equating the two is like concluding that babies are like poisonous snakes because some of them have rattles. Maybe information will someday emerge to confirm the conservative suspicion that Obama thuggishly subverted the IRS to win re-election, but so far, it falls in the realm of make-believe.

Here is what the 44th president had to say about how the agency should operate: "Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I'm angry about it. It should not matter what political stripe you're from. The fact of the matter is the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity." Obama said this as he announced the dismissal of the acting commissioner for failing to prevent political abuse.

Here is what the 37th president had to say about how the agency should operate: "Are we looking over the financial contributors to the Democratic National Committee? Are we running their income tax returns? ... We have all this power and we aren't using it. Now, what the Christ is the matter?"

Nixon did not have a fetish for maximizing revenue. The point, a memo from the White House counsel helpfully explained, was to "use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies." On multiple occasions, at the behest of the president or his top aides, the IRS was told to audit individuals whose activities created dissatisfaction in the Oval Office.

The chairman of the Democratic National Committee, Lawrence O'Brien, got special attention. One of Nixon's top aides called the commissioner of the IRS and demanded action, hoping to "send him to jail before the elections." Nixon ordered investigations of Democrats who might run against him.

Obama's complaint is that the IRS engaged in unfair treatment of groups that oppose him. Nixon's was that it was reluctant to engage in unfair treatment of those that opposed him.

In 1971, weary of improper pressure, Commissioner Randolph Thrower asked for a meeting with the president to advise him that "the introduction of political influence into the IRS would be very damaging to him and his administration, as well as to the revenue system and the general public interest." Nixon refused to see him.

When another commissioner closed down a unit that was used for political retribution, the president tried repeatedly to fire him -- while griping profanely in private that he, as The New York Times paraphrased, "was prissy about legal procedures."

Not that revenge was Nixon's sole mission. "If harassment of 'enemies' was half the White House strategy, the other half was succor for friends," wrote New York Times reporter J. Anthony Lukas in his book "Nightmare: The Underside of the Nixon Years." When evangelist Billy Graham and actor John Wayne got audit notices, the president demanded that the IRS back off.

In Nixon's mind, using tax agents as political operatives was not only excusable but exemplary. In the case of Obama, there is no evidence that he or his Treasury Secretary was aware of the mistreatment of conservative groups -- much less that either of them requested it.

Many of his critics nevertheless claim to detect in him a ruthless mendacity unseen in the White House since 1974. The result of this distortion is to highlight not how much Obama resembles Nixon, but how much they do.

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  • Ted S.||

    Steve must be one of those cosmotarians who wants to get invited to all the "cool" Beltway parties.

  • Cervantes||

    Huehuehuehuehuehue.

  • vopiwobypacA3||

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  • Free Society||

    Chapman never misses an opportunity to toss this President's salad.

  • sam the man||

    He is the Tribune's token libertarian and I hate it.

  • db||

    Chapman attempts to make the case that Obama and Nixon are apples and oranges by comparing statements Obama made in public after a scandal hit the front pages with statements Nixon made in private while planning the actions that led to his scandal.

    That's rich.

  • VG Zaytsev||

    But Obama never lies to the public.

  • ||

    My thoughts exactly.
    The proof is in the pudding on this scandal.
    Given his track record and how deep this corruption reaches, you'd almost have to conclude he's either completely incompetent or completely full of shit.

  • Rich||

    Why can't it be both?

  • Too_Big_to_Fail||

    It's all about intentions. OBAMAS INTENTIONS ARE PURE!

  • Free Society||

    For more psuedo-libertarian musings and thoroughly fallacious logic please refer to one of Chapman's other articles.

    "the libertarian case for Obama"

    "why the drinking age should stay at 21 (or higher)"

    "print moar money and give government-backed loans"

  • sam the man||

    I believe the first one was Mike Godwin, another leftist who managed to land a job at Reason.

  • Boomer||

    The President publicly bashed the SCOTUS for its Citizens United ruling, all but suggesting it was unconstitutional, he published an "enemy list" suggesting high-profile conservative donors were doing something illegal, and he's been publicly bashing conservative 501(c)4 organizations since before the last election, implying any group that won't list its donors must be engaged in illegalities. Now the President is expressing surprise that some people in his administration actually believed what he said enough to act on it?

  • Alec Leamas||

    Indeed. Also, weren't we told that it was the "coverup" and not the "crime?"

    Chapman manages to entirely avoid discussion of the ongoing coverup in this administration, part of which - no doubt - was to provide the President with plausible deniability so that he could pretend just to have heard about this the other day like you all.

  • ||

    Here is what the 44th president had to say about how the agency should operate...


    Quote taken from a teleprompter speech.

    Here is what the 37th president had to say about how the agency should operate...


    Quote taken apparently from the Nixon Tapes.

    Chapman, you really are pathetic. Since Obama declared his love of transparency and accountability in a speech let's ignore his actions on said subjects over the last 5 years. Oh and Boosh Nixon

  • Live Free or Diet||

    babies are like poisonous snakes because some of them have rattles.

    I wouldn't call either of them a poisonous snake. Poisonous snakes get rid of rats.

  • meunke||

    Many layers to this comment. Well put sir!

  • SIV||

    Obama is more Hugo Chavez than Richard Nixon.

  • ||

    ^This

    Shitweasel is more suitable to running a banana republic.

  • ||

    Shitweasel is more suitable to running a banana republic

    He could probably semi-competently run a Hot Topic, too.

  • Cloudbuster||

    He's got nothing on his resume to qualify him for a retail management position. He'd never get hired.

  • ||

    He had nothing in his resume to qualify him for an executive leadership position, either, and he won the Presidency on his first shot. The regional manager of Hot Topic isn't likely to be any more immune to gladhanding and social stratification than the public at large.

  • Scarecrow Repair||

    Like Chicago.

  • Lord Humungus||

    ^agreed^

    Using the institutions of government to suppress your enemies, but still holding back enough to not enrage them.

  • H. ReardEn||

    Steve Chapman and Bob Woodward. It would be silly to equate the two just because they both know how to operate a keyboard.

  • ||

    +1, Rearden

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    So Team Obama possibly learned from Nixon's unsubtle mistakes.

  • Slammo||

    That is exactly what I was thinking, This all shows that Obama has learned from Nixon's mistakes.Also, of cousre Obama Said that in public, what did the author expect? For him to be honest?

  • Free Society||

    The author expected a spoonful of ejaculate from the President, in payment for the all the blowing he does writing for Reason.

  • scareduck||

    Among other things, Obama has a wiretapping scheme inhaling every phone conversation everywhere, something Nixon could only dream of.

  • Bee Tagger||

    The result of this distortion is to highlight not how much Obama resembles Nixon, but how much they do.

    The Nixon is coming from inside the house!

  • ||

    Nixon had that infamous meeting with Elvis

    What would today's equivalent be?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Bieber. Duh.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    (But not Fat Bieber.)

  • ||

    That's just lazy

  • ||

    He's saving himself for the MLs.

  • ||

    at least he's given up saving himself for Warty

  • ||

    Even Warty has standards.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Okay, Fat Bieber if that's what you want.

  • Ted S.||

    In Nixon's mind, using tax agents as political operatives was not only excusable but exemplary. In the case of Obama, there is no evidence that he or his Treasury Secretary was aware of the mistreatment of conservative groups -- much less that either of them requested it.

    Who requested the release of Jack Ryan's divorce records in 2004?

  • WTF||

    Yes, Chapman's argument is a bit absurd. We won't know for sure what Obama thinks of using the IRS to go after political enemies unless we somehow get to hear private conversations, like we did with Nixon. And I assume Obama learned the lesson to make sure that never happens.

  • John||

    Exactly. And it is funny how all of the sudden Chapman decides that we shouldn't think the worst of politicians.

  • ||

    Wait, what? Chapman had an argument?

  • WTF||

    Maybe Chapman is just trolling us.

  • LTC(ret) John||

    ^^^THIS^^^

    Or, he has just reverted to form.

  • Cloudbuster||

    This. When the chips are down, Chapman always betrays conservatism/libertarianism.

  • CampingInYourPark||

    "In the case of Obama, there is no evidence that he or his Treasury Secretary was aware of the mistreatment of conservative groups..."

    “'It was posted on the IG’s website in the fall of 2012,' he said. 'I believe that … is typically the practice: that an inspector general notify the agencies when matters are opened.'
    The Treasury inspector general for tax administration, J. Russell George, told lawmakers today that he informed the Treasury Department’s general counsel of his audit on June 4 and Deputy Treasury Secretary Neal Wolin 'shortly thereafter.'”

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/po.....last-week/

  • juris imprudent||

    C'mon, it is a BIG govt and you can't expect the man at the top to keep track of what his minions are doing.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    I'v never liked Nixon. I have scant patience with recent efforts to rehabilitate his memory. He was a Big Government Republican whose best feature was the litany of pillocks, progressives, and prats who hated him. Chapman is quite right that Obama is not Nixon. But he is wrong to imply that Nixon was worse.

  • mtrueman||

    Nixon is by far my favourite US president. The only one worthy of Shakespearian tragedy.

  • sam the man||

    I beg to differ. The stories of James Buchanan and his male "roommate" at the White House seem quite intriguing.

  • mtrueman||

    Buchanan is an interesting chap, but his spell in the Whitehouse was an unmitigated disaster. Nixon's was mitigated with flashes of greatness. Just the thing for a tragedy.

  • John C. Randolph||

    How do Nixon and the current teleprompter-in-chief compare on body count?

    -jcr

  • Drake||

    Both inherited wars so it's hard to pin numbers on them. Obama let Iraq wind down the way it was planned - so that was to the good. But he doubled down on the stupidity in Afghanistan.

    Nixon let Creighton Abrams run the show in Vietnam for a couple years until the thing was basically won. Then he let Kissinger give it all away in Paris. Nixon wins if you blame the 1975 bloodbaths in South Vietnam and Cambodia on him.

  • John||

    Ford and the Watergate Congress get the blame for that. They were the ones who cut aid and emboldened the North by saying we would never go back.

  • mtrueman||

    hehe

    As if the North was emboldened by Congress actions. They'd been laying their lives on the line for decades before anyone ever heard of Watergate.

  • haakondahl||

    Do not confound the obvious personal bravery and dedication of our (well my) enemy in Vietnam and the effect on strategy and public sentiment of our feckless policy pronouncements. Each North Vietnamese fighter no doubt held the same conviction (one way or another) over their respective tenures, but the strategy of the North got a huge boost from our clumsy and shameful climb-down from victory.
    "If you cannot respect your enemies, you will only beat the weak ones."

  • mtrueman||

    I understand your point. I'd argue that the north's victory had less to do with the US's actions and more to do with the "clumsy and shameful climb-down from victory" of the army of South Vietnam. The war was essentially a civil war, and if only one side in a civil war is willing to fight, they are going to be the victors.

  • ||

    Cowboy John never misses a chance to blame something on "not enough killing."
    Psychopathic war-mongoloid that he is.

  • DJF||

    Shouldn’t we wait to decide until we listen to the tapes?

    After all the Obama administration is the most transparent of all and so they should be soon releasing the tapes of all of Obama’s conversations with his staff.

  • WTF||

    He will release all of the tapes. Which will be redacted so they will only retain words like "and" and "the". His supporters will then proclaim that this proves that nothing is amiss.

  • DarrenM||

    You forgot "uh".

  • John||

    In Nixon's mind, using tax agents as political operatives was not only excusable but exemplary. In the case of Obama, there is no evidence that he or his Treasury Secretary was aware of the mistreatment of conservative groups -- much less that either of them requested it.

    Because Obama has done so much to earn the benefit of the doubt. Jesus fucking Christ Chapman, do you really think Obama just happened to constantly personalize and call out his enemies and IRS agents just happened to go after these people? Since you can write a complete sentence and feed yourself, there is no way you are that stupid. So, please stop pretending we are.

  • newshutz||

    I think you are comparing Obama to Henry II, not Nixon.

  • ||

    +1 on 12th century reference, newshutz.

  • Ornithorhynchus||

    Nixon and Obama are nothing alike. Nixon wanted to arrest whoever was leaking secret information to the press, whereas Obama actually did so.
    See. Completely different.

  • John||

    Nixon thought about ordering the assassination of an American citizen. Obama actually did it.

  • Fluffy||

    Nixon only illegally invaded ONE country.

  • Cloudbuster||

    Which country was that? It was Kennedy/Johnson who got us into Vietnam. Nixon got us out.

  • John||

    Cambodia

  • Raven Nation||

    I'd say the similarity is the culture they encouraged within their administrations. Let's assume Obama didn't specifically order the IRS audits. I would also say, based on what I've read, that Nixon did not specifically order the Watergate break in.

    However, both of them did/have operated their administrations in such a way that both those who perpetrated Watergate AND those who perpetrated the IRS stuff could quite reasonably believe they were acting in ways that their bosses would condone.

  • Bill||

    And Obama has the Nixon debacle as a warning. He knows President's can get caught and threatened with impeachment. So you would think that he would stop short of some of the things Nixon did. And he knows not to tape his conversations.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Steve Chapman on the Differences Between Obama and Nixon

    When I saw that headline, I figured this would have to be a really short article. Differences huh? Lessee..

    1. Nixon was much smarter
    2. Obama is much better looking
    3. The IRS would not play ball with Nixon
    4. The media hated Nixon
    5. The media are the biggest Obama fellators out there.

    Chapman's article basically sums up to "President 'Sergeant Schultz' Obama (I know NOOOTHINK!!) says he knows nothing about his own administration, so obviously he knows nothing, so you mean people have to leave him alone!"

  • ||

    I have noticed that all presidents have silly nicknames, but Obama seems to have more than any in history.

    Fatty, you may have just come up with my new favorite. Sgt. Shultz.

  • John||

    http://www.newyorker.com/onlin.....nment.html

    Obama denies role in government.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    Hey, I was saving that for morning links! It's better than the stuff I've seen on The Onion lately. Maybe I'm wrong, but I get the feeling that their writers' hearts aren't really in it when it comes to this whole Obama scandals thing.

  • scareduck||

    You know it's bad when an apologist like Borowitz has to go after him.

  • Tim||

    "Maybe information will someday emerge to confirm the conservative suspicion that Obama thuggishly subverted the IRS to win re-election, but so far, it falls in the realm of make-believe."

    That's what I 've been saying all along: This is just a set of improbable coincidences.

  • John||

    Obama just can't catch a break.

  • Fatty Bolger||

    He's the unluckiest man alive. Well, except when it comes to winning elections. But after that, it's nothing but hard knocks and bad mojo.

  • Night Elf Mohawk||

    Under that standard, I guess Jimmy Hoffa's just been stuck in traffic or something.

  • John||

    By that standard John Gotti was just an honest business man who had the misfortune of having some unsavory friends.

  • anon||

    I'd do business with John Gotti before I ever even approached Barack Obama.

  • Raven Nation||

    +1000

  • Ken Shultz||

    "Equating the [Nixon and Obama] is like concluding that babies are like poisonous snakes because some of them have rattles."

    Having been impeached is Nixon's most distinguishing characteristic.

    Having rattles isn't a baby's most distinguishing characteristic, and having been impeached isn't Obama's yet either--but only because he hasn't been impeached yet.

    If and when Obama is impeached, that will change--he'll be just like Nixon was.

  • John||

    Nixon was never impeached. He had the decency to resign to save the country of that experience.

  • Ken Shultz||

    Nixon resigned just before the vote was taken, but he might as well have been impeached...

    He resigned becasue he was in the process of being impeached--how's that?

  • Almanian!||

    He resigned because it was a different time, and pols like him didn't get second chances once caught, unlike, say Weiner; Biden the Plagiarist; "Walking the Adirondack Trail Guy" (too lazy to Bing); Marion Barry; Kwame Kilpatrck (who's FINALLY going down for the count); John Corzine; etc. etc. etc.

  • Ken Shultz||

    He lost the support of people in his own party. He counted the votes, and he knew how the vote was going to go.

    He was given a choice! He could either jump off the ledge--or be thrown off the ledge.

    He chose the route where he could say he wasn't impeached, I guess?

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Chapman, you dun goofed.

  • Ken Shultz||

    There's a piece in the Wall Street Journal today which reveals that Obama's White House counsel knew about the problems at the IRS weeks ago (Obama says he found out while reading the paper). But we're looking in the wrong place for a smoking gun if we're looking for a phone call or email...

    Obama all but told the IRS to go after Tea Party groups live on TV!

    "The president derided "tea baggers." Vice President Joe Biden compared them to "terrorists." In more than a dozen speeches Mr. Obama raised the specter that these groups represented nefarious interests that were perverting elections. "Nobody knows who's paying for these ads," he warned. "We don't know where this money is coming from," he intoned.

    In case the IRS missed his point, he raised the threat of illegality: "All around this country there are groups with harmless-sounding names like Americans for Prosperity, who are running millions of dollars of ads against Democratic candidates . . . And they don't have to say who exactly the Americans for Prosperity are. You don't know if it's a foreign-controlled corporation."

    Short of directly asking federal agencies to investigate these groups, this is as close as it gets.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....80800.html

    There was no need for Obama to send an email to the IRS telling them to target Tea Party groups. He all but gave the IRS their instructions live on TV!

  • lap83||

    That was a good article, he also brought up an important point with the Vandersloot case.

    "The Obama call for scrutiny wasn't a mistake; it was the president's strategy—one pursued throughout 2012. The way to limit Romney money was to intimidate donors from giving."

    Obama's fingerprints are all fucking over this because this is the exact kind of campaign tactic he has done since Chicago.

    This Chapman article reminds me of the SNL skit about sexual harassment
    1. Be Handsome
    2. Be Attractive
    3. Don't be Unattractive

    The media hated Nixon so he couldn't get away with his CREEPy agenda.

    The media loves Obama so he can get away with murder and rampant corruption.

    The end.

  • ||

    Tom Brady for prez!?

  • jcp370||

    Can we finally put to bed the charade that Steve Chapman is any kind of libertarian?

    Lately, his beat has largely consisted of of scolding Americans with warnings of non-existent "Islamophobia" and setting fire to enough strawmen to light up the skies from Chicago to New York City?

    I think we can look forward to more completely illogical columns like this one which, although baffling to the rest of us, serve as fodder for the leftist darlings in the MSM. And from there, perhaps a gig as a talking head (with bonus exploding) on MSNBC?

  • JWW||

    I'm anxiously awaiting a fabulous article from him about how evil the Koch brothers are.

    What the hell is he doing writing here?

  • RightNut||

    Chapman doesn't technically write for Reason. He writes for the Chicago Tribune. For some unfathomable and unknowable motive Reason syndicates his column.

  • Marshall Gill||

    Chapman is clearly a distant relative of the Koch's or has some murder blackmail against them.

    He makes Tony seem brilliant by comparison.

  • anon||

    Pretty sure Tony is Chapman.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    No, Choney makes no pretense of libertarianism. Chapman would be Shriek.

  • Robert||

    Over 30 yrs. ago, when he was one of the rotating stable of "liberal, conservative, and libertarian" commentors on "Byline", CATO's 3/wk. (or maybe it was daily, I forgot) 90 second radio commentaries, it was while the Fairness Doctrine was still in effect, and I figured they had to fuzz the libertarianism by including him. But apparently it wasn't enough, because they later included Julian Bond.

  • The Late P Brooks||

    Let me guess: another heaping helping of retard from Chapman.

  • Almanian!||

    Good guess

  • ||

    This one had an even greater serving of retard than expected from a Chapman article. The gist of it was that Obama is nothing like Nixon because even though their administrations did the exact same thing, Obama told his adoring public that it was not malicious. If it was intentional and malicious, Obama would have told us so.

  • ThatSkepticGuy||

    Nixon illegally wiretapped people.

    Obama renewed and expanded laws that would allow him to legally wiretap people.

    NO ROOM FOR COMPARISON.

  • entropy||

    Actually Nixon never wiretapped anyone I don't think.

    Nixon just covered up for someone who did. SO TOTALLY UNLIKE OBAMA WHO ONLY FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS SHIT LAST FRIDAY.

  • anon||

    SO TOTALLY UNLIKE OBAMA WHO ONLY FOUND OUT ABOUT THIS SHIT LAST FRIDAY. MONTHS AGO.

    ftfy.

  • Adam330||

    Why does Reason post this guy's articles? Having some opposing perspective would be fine, but Chapman's articles are just straight up retarded.

  • Matt N||

    You got it. It's plain bizarre.

  • ||

    Chapman is one of those guys who, even when you agree with him, you're ashamed of his reasoning.

  • KenP||

    With the Nixon V Obama thoughts, it is true or wrong -- pick your level/bias.

    I think the applicable contrast is with Watergate. Nixon wasn't singled out for the break-in but for the cover up of his aids. Aids, like other bureaucrats, can wield powers that aren't a part of any voting or transparency. It is a ripe area for abuse that we see play out time and again.

  • stonefree2rant||

    "his(Nixon's) aids" wow. Patient zero.

  • Loki||

    In the case of Obama, there is no evidence that he or his Treasury Secretary was aware of the mistreatment of conservative groups -- much less that either of them requested it.

    IOW, at best Obama and Geithner are a couple of incompetent morons who allowed the IRS bureaucracy to run amok. Got it.

  • MissMalevolent||

    I thought the acting IRS director was going to leave in a few months, anyway? That resignation was just political theater to pretend like the President is proactive.

  • mgd||

    I believe it was next month, in fact. So he paid with a couple-three weeks of his stint.

    That'll show the nefarious baddies that Obama will not put up with their shenanigans!

  • Kevin47||

    Yes, let's take at face value the talking points of an administration currently under fire over monkeying with talking points.

  • Almanian!||

    Again - how I long for those five sweet, sweet words:

    "Steve Chapman is on vacation"

    One of your deepest piles of derp in a long time, Steve! Way to earn it!

  • johnl||

    Don't forget BHO's public conversation about Koch taxes.

  • BoxyBoxyBoxyBoxy||

    This article was actually about the opposite of what I thought it was going to be from the headline.

  • ||

    I think it's important to exercise moderation...not that this Administration deserves it at this late date, but because the few small people who are his supporters that MIGHT be willing to open their eyes are always on the lookout for "wingnuts" and "conspiracy theorists". The moment you criticize the President, you start off (in their perception) in a probationary status in one or both of those groups, so it's not a bad idea to show full faith for likely excuses for the President.

    That said, when you argue that Obama dismissing the temporary head who was leaving in a month anyway, and wasn't in charge during any of this, is proof of anything good for him...well, fuck you and all that.

  • Joao||

    I'm quite enlightened by the history lesson, here.

    I'm also a bit confused. The parallel between Nixon and Obama I think is most relevant is Benghazi.

    People working for Nixon, tho not under his direct orders, broke into the offices of his political enemies. They were caught. Nixon and his administration attempted to cover it up.

    Mind you, this was the first time the American public was allowed to see just what low character plays out in the oval office; nowadays, we're all seasoned critics.

    To the present: The Obama administration uses extremely poor judgement, perhaps to draw attention to a perceived success in transitioning Libya, by not protecting its diplomatic staff there. Disaster ensues.

    The administration proceeds to throw the world a red herring and blames, of all things: FREE SPEECH. Staff are demoted for not cooperating in the cover-up. Hearings are held documenting the poor judgement/negligence, also the coverup and misleadings. This being an emergency event, the President, by definition had to have been in the loop, and the facts were known.

    As with Nixon, the truth will come out. Unlike with Nixon, the electorate has no moral compass to see why being lied to matters.

    After all, their guy won the election.

  • wwhorton||

    I couldn't agree more. In fact, if you're an Obama apologist, distancing yourself from the Nixon comparison is a dangerous game. After all, look at the full picture.

    - Nixon withdrew American troops from Vietnam, normalized relations with China, and pushed detente, including SALT I and the ABM.

    - Obama has used US troops to help topple Qaddafi, where we've recently had to evacuate diplomats because of protests against US involvement in the recent revolution. He has expanded an increasingly controversial drone campaign in Pakistan, Yemen, and other parts of the ME. Then there's Syria, which ought to count as at least three separate "accomplishments".

    Domestic naughtiness?

    - Nixon: Kept list of enemies, used IRS to audit political enemies. Employees broke into DNC headquarters.

    - Obama: Kept Rahm Emmanuel. Fostered work environment where IRS employees believed their job included investigating NPOs that might not support Obama (which is the most charitable scenario). Used the DOJ to wiretap 100 AP reporters. At a bare minimum, presided over a massive cover-up of profoundly, lethally poor management of the security of the embassy in Benghazi, blaming it on free speech; at worst, deliberately withheld additional security resources in a politically turbulent country with known AQ elements on the anniversary of 9/11 in order to prove what a good idea it was to get involved in Libya.

    I'd take Tricky Dick over His Imperial Eminence any day.

  • mtrueman||

    Nixon's worst crime was the 4 years of unnecessary war in Vietnam and Cambodia.

    The agreement to withdraw that he eventually accepted was already on the table when he was first elected in 1968. Thousands o people died so that Nixon wouldn't appear faggy to the US electorate in 1972.

    Other than that, I have no problem with the thrust of your comment.

  • ||

    On the topic of Watergate, it's worth pointing out that a low level DNC operative bugged Mitch McConnell's offices a few days after he was a guest at the White House. It's almost like that never happened, probably because it was nonchalantly reported.

  • ||

    This is what Obama's reign reminds me of:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVq0gVS96w0

  • ||

    This entire article is a red herring. Instead of looking at the administration, let's look at blowhards making Nixon similes and debate their accuracy. Change the subject: great idea!

  • anon||

    When you can't argue the facts, make them up!

  • Kevin47||

    Does one need to be a blowhard to make craft Nixon similes?

  • anon||

    Since it's a Chapman post, I didn't read it; I can only hope that he's considering Obama as the rattlesnake and Nixon as the baby. The inverse is more likely true, however.

    Then again, Nixon gave us the EPA, so fuck him too.

  • John Galt||

    And the EPA makes certain the USA will never be a self sufficient nation ever again.

    The End.

  • ETremens||

    "Maybe information will someday emerge to confirm the conservative suspicion that Obama thuggishly subverted the IRS to win re-election, but so far, it falls in the realm of make-believe."

    If information may someday emerge to show that A is true, the assertion that A is true today is an *hypothesis*, it is not "make believe."

    Hypotheses need to be tested. And Chapman needs to remember that in the early days of Watergate, the assertion that the corruption reached the top was also an hypothesis.

    Watergate happened 40 years ago. We know virtually everything about it that there is to know. Benghazi broke last September. IRS/AP broke a week ago. The conclusion that Obama did not play a role in his scandals similar to the role Nixon played is, at this point, just as jejune as the opposite conclusion.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Shorter Chapman:

    Nixon was bad. Obama says he's not bad. I like Obama. Obama's nothing like Nixon.

  • mtrueman||

    There's a big difference between punitive tax audits and punitive delays in granting tax exemption status.

  • Adam330||

    What's the difference when the punitive delays are accompanied by over broad, irrelevant, and intrusive information demands?

  • mtrueman||

    I suppose the difference is that failing to cooperate with an audit could land one in the slammer. Refusing to provide the requested information in an application for tax exempt status could result in a longer, maybe indefinite, wait.

    It's certainly conceivable that an audit would reveal nothing untoward while a delay in the granting of tax exempt status is presumably going to mean unnecessary expenses.

    In a word, there's a lot of difference between an audit and a delay in the granting of tax exempt status. Just what those differences are depends on the particulars of each case.

  • Matt N||

    I see no difference. I don't need to explain why. Subjective value.... But I'll explain why anyway:

    If the folks who were seeking tax-exempt status decided to not pay taxes without the OK of the fascist pigs, they would be put in prison the same way the audit-refusers would.

    Suck it MOFO.

  • mtrueman||

    If those same folks had shot IRS employees dead out of frustration they would have been sent to jail even longer!

  • Kevin47||

    Were you going to defend that assertion, or???

  • mtrueman||

    Does it really need defending? I think the assertion that there is no difference between punitive tax audits and punitive delays is the dubious claim.

  • ||

    Because I guess you have no clue how non-profit fundraising works and think that withholding of tax exemption somehow has no accompanying consequences. Or that conjured up charges of tax exemption abuse can't equally put you in the slammer. Your ignorance isn't a good substitute for an argument.

  • mtrueman||

    Hadn't heard that under Obama the IRS had conjured up charges of tax exemption abuse. It's not mentioned n the Chapman article, so my ignorance s honestly come by. That's just as serous as Nixon's misdeeds.

  • Kevin47||

    "Does it really need defending?"

    Yes. It is a rote assertion on its own.

    "I think the assertion that there is no difference between punitive tax audits and punitive delays is the dubious claim."

    Not from a liberty standpoint.

  • mtrueman||

    Not from a moral standpoint either. Both are abuses of power. My point is that for me personally, I'd be much more afraid of a punitive tax audit than a punitive delay in tax exempt status being granted. PM earlier refers to conjured up charges of tax exemption abuse. That is just as scary, or even more scary than an audit. Obama should face time behind bars if he had any part in this kind of abuse.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Except it wasn't simply delays, though, was it? The IRS was, in effect, auditing them for tax exemption eligibility. And applying significantly different standards than were applied to other organizations.
    So,
    Tax Audit - I have to provide a detailed accounting of my activities to avoid being subject to financial penalties
    Eligibility Review - I have to provide a detailed accounting of my activities to avoid incurring taxes I should not be subjected to (financial penalties)

    I fail to see the distinction.

  • John Galt||

    Equating the two is like concluding that babies are like poisonous snakes because some of them have rattles.

    They don't become poisonous snakes until their teenage years. While infants they are more like blood sucking parasites.

  • DarrenM||

    Here is what the 37th president had to say about how the agency should operate: "Are we looking over the financial contributors to the Democratic National Committee? Are we running their income tax returns? ... We have all this power and we aren't using it. Now, what the Christ is the matter?"

    Wow. Nixon said this in public just like the quote from Obama you are comparing it against? I had no idea.

  • DarrenM||

    Obama's complaint is that the IRS engaged in unfair treatment of groups that oppose him. Nixon's was that it was reluctant to engage in unfair treatment of those that opposed him.

    You are comparing a public statement intended for public consumption with a statement intended to be otherwise. It's well-known that politicians say one thing in public and often something completely different in private. They even often contradict themselves in public.

  • mgd||

    Well-known to everyone but Chapman, that is.

  • ||

    To defend Nixon-

    Remember, he had had the 1960 Presidential election stolen from via Democratic voter fraud. Anything he did to Democrats thereafter comes under the heading of turnabout is fair play.

  • Bill Dalasio||

    Well, except, it's done to the American people as well as the Democrats. So, what, are we to say that since the Democrats screw Nixon and the American people, it's cool that Nixon screw the Democrats and the American people?

  • Livefree1776||

    This guy has no libertarian credentials. This article was icing on the cake. Sick of reading his big government apologetic garbage. Obama said and that settles it, huh! Freakin joke!

  • Robert||

    We just don't have audio tape of Obama. Mr. Chapman, how do you know he's not saying the things Nixon did when we can't hear him? Would you go by their public statements, i.e. "I am not a crook."?

  • Robert||

    Oh, I see now everyone above made the same point. Well, Mr. Chapman, at least you see pretty much everyone comes to the same conclusion.

    The trouble then is -- and I'm sorry to have to conclude this, because I see no alternative -- either you're that dumb, or you think we are.

  • Kevin47||

    Of course, were anyone in the press to try to acquire the tapes, they would be arrested for inconveniencing the President or whatever.

  • Il Padrone||

    Clearly the only fitting punishment for Steve for writing an article of this caliber would be to parade around the Stonewall Inn wearing only chaps...

  • Death Rock and Skull||

    Fuck Steve Chapman. Obama is totally as bad as Nixon.

  • Matt N||

    Chapman: comparing things Nixon said in private to things Obama said in public? I would ask if you're a plant, but a plant wouldn't be so stupid.

  • REMant||

    Nixon was not the first president to think or act like this. Secondly, Washington and the Federal govt are all enemies of libertarians and the Constitution they supposedly serve.

  • sam the man||

    Fucking terrible analogy about the baby and the rattlesnake. Completely asinine and has nothing to do with your point. Come on Chapman stop being such a whore for Obama. First the Chicago Tribune with the second endorsement (I could understand the first, but twice? Fuck off) and now I've got you shilling for him here at Reason. Good God, how can I escape your pseudo-libertarianism?

  • ||

    It's nice to see that the complete and total idiocy of comparing secretly-recorded private conversations versus public press release speechmaking wasn't lost on anyone else. Jesus H. Christ, Chapman. A junior high debate coach would kick your ass for constructing an argument this retarded. Next time you're up Obama's ass, see if you can find your missing chromosome in there.

  • JeremyR||

    We actually do have Obama joking about sending the IRS people after people in public.

    That can send the wrong message, to people who didn't realize he was joking, or just venting. Maybe his statements gave the IRS the idea?

  • stonefree2rant||

    I not only don't read Chapman, I don't read any of the articles. I just read the comments. This is my first comment, and I won't do it often: in awe of you guys( sadly, mostly guys)

    My faves are threads eviscerating tony

  • sam the man||

    The sole reason I made an account here was to call Tony a shithead around last summer.

  • Stephdumas||

    He's no Nixon but one guy on the City-Data forum compared to the former mayor of Detroit, Coleman A. Young http://www.city-data.com/forum.....young.html

  • haakondahl||

    This article makes the mistake of believing what is said while rejecting what is done. So what if Nixon's corruption was amateurish? Obama is professionally corrupt. This article is not worth of publication in Reason.
    Think.

  • An0nB0t||

    You can do better than Chapman, Welch.

  • ULOST||

    Someone missed the story, by Jeffrey Lord, about National Treasury Employees Union President Colleen Kelley going to see his highness and the targeted IRS abuse. Her quote of note, “For me, it’s about collaboration.”

  • Kroneborge||

    Obama is just smarter about it. Everyone KNOWS he wants them to go after his enemies he doesn't have to say it.

  • CBear||

    The President made jokes about auditing his enemies. During the campaign, the President personally called out Romney donors by name. During the campaign, Harry Reid claimed to have knowledge of Romney's confidential tax returns. Valrie Jarrett vowed "revenge" and "pay back" against those who failed to support thy furher. The President met with the head of the IRS workers union at the White House the day before the targeting began, which the IG Report describes as a certain point in time.

    And this "journalist" acquits the President before we even get civil discovery in the civil rights suits that have been filed by targeted groups? HAHAHAHA! Don't speak too soon, bub.

  • Alec Leamas||

    "Obama's complaint is that the IRS engaged in unfair treatment of groups that oppose him."

    Yes - after the discovery of the bad behavior was imminent and the oppression of Obama's political enemies had proved successful and/or became irrelevant because he had won an election.

    It's a bit of weak tea to say that Obama is complaining about unfair treatment of his political enemies by the IRS only after arresting the unfair treatment would have no substantive effects.

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