Professor Anne Hendershot, a sociologist, was targeted for an IRS audit in 2010 after she wrote a series of articles, mostly in Catholic publications, that were critical of Obamacare. The IRS summoned Professor Hendershott to a meeting to discuss the “business expenses” associated with her writing. Hendershott reports that the IRS agent wanted to know “who was paying her” and barred her husband from attending the inquiry, even though the Hendershotts file joint returns. Hendershott says that she was so traumatized by the experience that she stopped writing about political topics, which presumably was the intended effect.
“It was clear they didn’t like me criticizing the people who helped pass Obamacare,” she said of the audit,” later adding, ”The IRS is very frightening.”
In addition to creating stress and fear, Hendershott said that the experience came at a great emotional and financial expense for the family, noting that even after the audit the government sought more information from her.
Of course, she can’t prove that she was targeted politically (or couldn’t until now, when subpoenas directed against the IRS may force the revelation of such information.) And that is precisely what makes the power wielded by the IRS and other Federal agencies so frightening. An individual can be sentenced to a Kafkaeqsue subterranean passage of indefinite duration, at the discretion of low-level officials in a local office, Cabinet officials in Washington, or mid-level bureaucrats anywhere in between. Hence, the maintenance of individual freedom requires that Federal Government activities be conducted with a high degree of integrity and respect for law.
What apparently happened to Professor Hendershott should not be happening to anyone in America.
Obama says he is “angry” about the IRS political activities that have been revealed. Sure, he’s angry about the political impact of the revelations on his administration. But is he angry that the activities occurred in the first place?
There seem to be a few possibilities. One is that Obama directly ordered these activities–in which case he is a criminal. The second is that he is truly, genuinely appalled by such things, but had no idea that they were occurring–on a large scale–under his watch. If this should be the case, it would provide still more evidence that he is a failure at the executive responsibilities for which he is being paid.
The third possibility, and by far the most likely, is that while being too cunning to give direct orders about tax audits, Obama created an organizational climate in which subordinates were encouraged to go to great lengths in order to harm the administration’s political enemies. Certainly, the politicization of all aspects of the Presidency and of all aspects of government operations has gone very far under this administration. Even on NBC…a network with a record of slanting heavily toward Obama and Democrats in general…reporter Lisa Myers says that the Obama administration has a history of intimidation of reporters and their sources inside the administration.
Here’s an interesting historical parallel. The English king Henry II, circa 1170, was increasingly angered by the political non-cooperation of archbishop Thomas Becket, and spoke words that were interpreted by his men as a wish to have Becket killed. “Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” is what the King said according to oral tradition…a contemporary biographer has Henry’s statement as slightly more ambiguous: “What miserable drones and traitors have I nourished and brought up in my household, who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low-born cleric?”
Shortly thereafter, four knights murdered Archbishop Becket inside Canterbury Cathedral.
The relationship between Henry and the murder of Becket by the knights seems quite parallel to the relationship between Obama and the attempted murder of American liberties by the IRS.
After Becket’s murder, Henry did public penance for his part in the affair. To what degree his penance was motivated by the factors of sincere horror at what had happened, religious fear of his own fate in the afterlife, and/or strictly political factors involving the need to minimize the hostility of the church and maintain the allegiance of believers, we cannot know.
Will Obama ever reach the moral and intellectual level at which he will feel penitent for his role in undercutting individual freedom in America? It seems most unlikely.