For Democrats, Scorched-Earth Politics is War by Other Means
This column by ACRU Senior Fellow Robert Knight was published January 24, 2014 on The Washington Times website.
On Thursday, the FBI announced an indictment of Dinesh D’Souza, maker of the hit documentary “2016: Obama’s America,” in what appears to be a Hugo Chavez-style payback.
Mr. D’Souza is accused of making illegal campaign contributions to a U.S. Senate candidate in New York. Also in New York, conservative activist James O’Keefe reports that Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s administration, of which he has been critical, is targeting his Veritas group with subpoenas.
In Hollywood, Fox News is reporting that the Internal Revenue Service has targeted a conservative group, Friends of Abe, whose members stay anonymous because of liberal blacklisting. Texas Tea Party leader Catherine Engelbrecht, her husband and their company have been subjected to 28 audits, investigations and inquiries from the IRS and other federal agencies since she founded True the Vote.
If these developments and the Obamacare train wreck are still not enough to convince you that elections have consequences, consider the commonwealth of Virginia.
Last November, thanks to a massive blitz of negative TV, radio and Internet ads, an underfunded and lukewarm GOP effort, plus an impressive ground game turning out their base, the Democratic Party took all three statewide offices — governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general.
It didn’t hurt that the federal partial shutdown heavily affected vote-rich Northern Virginia, or that then-Gov. Bob McDonnell, a Republican (who was indicted last week), was under a cloud for allegedly accepting illegal gifts. Or that a Texas billionaire Obama supporter helped secure ballot placement for Libertarian candidate Robert Sarvis, who drew 7 percent of the vote. Republican Kenneth T. Cuccinelli still lost by only 2 percent, nearly closing a double-digit gap as he belatedly hammered Obamacare.
That’s water under the bridge. Within days of being sworn in, Gov. Terry McAuliffe threatened to ignore the GOP-dominated House of Delegates and expand Obamacare by offering Medicaid to 400,000 more recipients without required legislation. To Democrats, “reaching across the aisle” means getting close enough to slap their opponents silly. The recipients always manage to look surprised.
In a similar spirit, new state Attorney General Mark R. Herring, who the media widely described as a moderate, gave a middle-finger salute Thursday to the 57 percent of Virginia voters who approved a marriage constitutional amendment in 2006. Remember, people who believe that the law should reflect what marriage has been for thousands of years are viewed as “extremists.”
The state’s brief filed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk says, “The Attorney General will not defend the constitutionality of those laws [and] will argue for their being declared unconstitutional.”
What’s that, you say? Mr. Herring, who won by just a handful of votes, took an oath to uphold the U.S. Constitution and Virginia’s Constitution? You are naive. This is not about oath-keeping. It’s about political payback to a very generous constituency. To liberals, politics really is war by other means.
The Democratic tide continued last Tuesday, as left-winger Jennifer Wexton won Mr. Herring’s former Northern Virginia state Senate seat. By taking 53 percent of the vote and beating Republican John Whitbeck (37 percent) and Republican-turned-independent former Delegate Joe May (10 percent), Ms. Wexton gave the Democrats effective control of the upper chamber. Keep those figures in mind the next time we’re told that independents, not the base, are the key to winning elections.
A unified party with a motivated base beats a divided party every time. The GOP spent less than half on Mr. Whitbeck than Ms. Wexton spent. The Democrats thought it was actually important to gain control of the state Senate chamber in 2014, when a crucial congressional election this November will determine which party runs Congress during President Obama’s final two years in office.
Heeding Mr. Obama’s famous advice, someone brought a gun to this knife fight. District 33 residents were inundated with robo-calls and mailers from a Tennessee-based group that falsely accused Mr. Whitbeck of being an anti-Semitic bigot.
These scorched-earth tactics in Virginia are only a taste of what’s coming in November. The Obama administration has unleashed the IRS again on — what else? — the Tea Party groups.
Under a proposed new rule, the IRS would redefine the tax-exempt activities of 501(c)(4) nonprofits to sabotage the same groups that the IRS got caught targeting earlier. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp, Michigan Republican, said the rule, whose comment period ends on Feb. 27, is clearly aimed at putting “Tea Party groups out of business.”
Protected by a “mainstream” media as partisan as the White House public-relations shop, the Obama administration is addressing its own criminal IRS abuses by creating a way to silence the Tea Parties once and for all. Here’s how The Wall Street Journal’s Kimberly A. Strassel describes Mr. Camp’s findings:
“Treasury appears to have reverse-engineered the carefully tailored rule — combing through the list of previously targeted Tea Party groups, compiling a list of their main activities and then restricting those functions.”
Meanwhile, unions — the largest collective Democratic donors — are not covered by the rule. For good measure, the administration is easing immigration enforcement while Attorney General Eric Holder Jr.’s Justice Department attacks state voter-ID laws enacted to ensure honest elections.
Does anyone see a pattern here? It’s diabolically brilliant.
Whether Virginia is a bellwether for November or a much-needed wake-up call depends on whether the Republicans come to understand that those criminalizing dissent and pushing the GOP leftward want desperately to keep that house divided.