Glenn Reynolds linked to an article in the Wall Street Journal Tax Audits Are No Laughing Matter; the subhead is “A president shouldn't even joke about abusing IRS power.”
Remember, Obama joked about auditing his enemies in 2009. At the time, I warned about the damage to the “trust and voluntary cooperation of citizens upon which this democracy depends,” but Obama didn’t get much pushback elsewhere. Now, however, people need to be fired, and most likely prosecuted, to drive home the appropriate lesson. And Obama himself needs to be taken to task. The Post editorial is just a start.
Here’s what I have noticed about Obama’s “jokes.” They are a way of disarming the opposition by mocking them. If you joke about sending the IRS after your opponents, it makes it much harder for people the IRS is going after to get other to pay attention. They are going to be laughed at and ridiculed as conspiracy theorists. One of the Tea Party groups that had trouble getting a tax exempt status is in Richmond, Virginia. They complained but got no help from anyone in the press or in government.
Obama has several times joked that he is a Muslim and a Socialist. He did so most recently at the White House Correspondents’ dinner.
“Look I get it,” Obama joked. “These days I look in the mirror, and I have to admit I’m not the strapping, young, Muslim socialist that I used to be.”
It was a laugh line and the Washington Press dutifully laughed. I have no idea whether he is actually religious or not. I believe that his membership in Jeremiah Wright’s black liberation, America damning church was designed to advance his political career rather than his salvation. I also believe, based on his family background and the testimony of friends from his college days, that he is Leftist and believes that the State should be the center of decision making in a society. If that’s the case he is - at best - a socialist. If he actually is either a Muslim or a Socialist making a joke about it is much more effective way of deflecting the accusation than either ignoring it or denying it.
This technique is the flip side of Obama’s straw man argument, his favorite technique. Karl Rove gives several examples in this article in the Wall Street Journal. Here's one:
On Tuesday night, Mr. Obama told Congress and the nation, "I reject the view that . . . says government has no role in laying the foundation for our common prosperity." Who exactly has that view? Certainly not congressional Republicans, who believe that through reasonable tax cuts, fiscal restraint, and prudent monetary policies government contributes to prosperity.
The use of these rhetorical devices is designed to mislead, much like a magician uses misdirection while he does his tricks. In a politician it's the technique of the rogue, the demagogue. The role of the press should be to expose this kind of deception. It doesn’t even require investigate skills, simply knowledge of the language and awareness of how words can be used to deceive. That’s Journalism 101 and one of the pre-eminent practitioners is James Taranto who writes Best of the Web. Too bad that most of the rest of the press are, as Glenn Reynolds says, "Democrat operatives with bylines."