…Bovard sketches how “President Franklin Roosevelt used the IRS to harass newspaper publishers who were opposed to the New Deal” and “Kennedy … used the IRS to strong-arm companies into complying with “voluntary” price controls. Steel executives who defied the administration were singled out for audits.” He points out that the “IRS was … given Nixon’s enemies list to, in the words of White House counsel John Dean, ‘use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.'”
We discovered in the 1990s, Bovard points out, that not just presidents, but members of Congress, had used the IRS to target political enemies for audits.
Likewise, the Justice Department’s surveillance of Associated Press reporters and Fox News correspondent James Rosen was no isolated incident. As the Electronic Frontier Foundation points out, media screams may have been raised when professional journalists found themselves on the receiving end of security-state tactics, but the government has been wielding such secretive and intrusive power against the general public for years.
Republicans have similar vulnerabilities on the issues now. They have no real health-care agenda. Voters don’t trust them to look out for middle-class economic interests. Republicans are confused and divided about how to solve the party’s problems. What they can do is unite in opposition to the Obama administration’s scandals and mistakes. So that’s what they’re doing. They’re trying to win news cycles when they need votes.