The Smoking Gun in Plain Sight
As the Obama administration descends into a whirlpool of scandals, a race has begun among Congressional committees and news organizations to find the proverbial smoking gun -- the document that will link President Obama directly to the IRS's targeting of conservative groups, or to the Justice Department's unprecedented legal actions against the Associated Press and Fox News reporter James Rosen, or to the Pentagon's ghastly failure to launch a rescue mission when our consulate in Benghazi came under attack last September.
Study history, and you will understand why no such document is ever likely to be found: That just isn't how these things work. Very few people are aware of this, but there is no document -- not one -- linking Adolf Hitler to the Holocaust. Why not? Because Hitler didn't need to sign a document ordering the slaughter of six million Jews. All he needed to do was to demonize his enemy in speeches at the Reichstag, on the radio, and from one end of Germany to the other -- then hire thugs like Herman Goering, Heinrich Himmler, Adolf Eichmann, and Josef Goebbels. They knew what der Fuhrer wanted, and der Fuhrer knew he could trust his henchman to get the job done -- no matter how, no matter what may be the law -- and to not bother him with the gory details.
Reader, take a deep breath. Nowhere in this essay will I suggest, or even imply, that President Obama plans the mass murder of his opponents the way Hitler murdered his. That's absurd. I am merely pointing out that President Obama has been going about the business of demonizing his political enemies, and then hiring thugs to destroy them without regard to the law, in precisely the same way that Hitler and his fascists did it in Germany. This isn't an accusation; it's an observation.
Look at the record: From the moment he took office in January 2009, President Obama has spoken before Congress, on television, and at countless rallies across the country describing his political opponents in terms we haven't seen before in the United States. Time and again he's insisted that Republicans aren't merely wrong, but evil. Hardly a week goes by without yet another sneering comment about "millionaires and billionaires" -- by which he means those men and women who actually built the businesses that created jobs for all the rest of us, not the ones he and the First Lady party with in Hollywood and on Martha's Vineyard.
Hatred for the Tea Party
His rhetoric heated up fast after the Tea Party movement gave the GOP enough oomph to win back the House of Representatives in 2010, and as the president geared up for the 2012 election. He urged Latino voters to help him "punish our enemies and reward our friends." He told his supporters at one rally to think of voting for him as "an act of revenge." Did you see the president at that Georgetown University forum on the future of Medicare when he trashed Paul Ryan's own plan, then went out of his way to publicly insult Ryan, while the Congressman himself was sitting in the front row too stunned -- and too decent and respectful of the presidency -- to respond in kind? Do you remember that television campaign ad describing Mitt Romney -- one of the most capable, financially astute, thoroughly decent men who ever graced public life -- as "not one of us"?
And while demonizing his political enemies, what sort of people did the president appoint to key jobs in his administration? His attorney general is Eric Holder, a sleazy Democratic operative who not only called the American people "cowards" for their approach to racial issues -- this after the majority of us elected a black president -- but who played a crucial role as deputy attorney general in the scandalous and still-uninvestigated pardon of Marc Rich in the Clinton administration's dying hours. The national security advisor is Thomas Donilon, another Democratic Party operative who got rich while serving as executive vice president for law and policy at Fannie Mae. And who was our secretary of state when the consulate in Benghazi came under attack? The same Hillary Clinton who, as the wife of Arkansas' up-and-coming governor, made an overnight $100,000 killing by trading cattle futures -- a feat no professional cattle-futures trader has ever been able to explain, or duplicate.
No one who's spent time in our nation's capital comes away with a romantic view of party politics and the people who do this for a living; the Saint-Per-Square-Mile ratio in Washington has always been fairly low. But David Axelrod? David Plouffe? Have you ever come across two Chicago-style, hardball-playing creeps like these clowns? They make Richard Nixon's two White House thugs, Bob Haldeman and John Erlichman, look like choir boys.
Demonize your political enemies, then hire people like these, and the result is precisely what happened in Germany after 1933 and what's happening now to us: a kind of bureaucratic coup d'etat in which the legitimately elected government overturns the established relationship between the individual and the State and replaces it with something very different; a relationship that no one voted for, saw coming, or imagined could happen so quickly and so quietly.
Forget About a Coup d'Etat
This is the United States in 2013, not Germany in 1933, and there's no real possibility that President Obama will get away with his attempted coup d'etat. There are members of Congress in both parties who are appalled by what the president has been doing, and even a few liberal news organizations are starting to wake up. But while the hunt for some document that would be the smoking gun will be entertaining -- and while it would be nice to see a special prosecutor appointed who'd throw at least a few members of this administration who've perjured themselves before Congress into prison -- it would also be a mistake.
Education is more important than prosecution. Right now, the best use of their time and energy would be to expose the Obama administration's wrongdoings; to illuminate for Americans just what's been going on in Washington and to show voters -- especially young voters -- what sort of country we'd be living in if the president had gotten away with this. Never before have our politicians and our news organizations had a better opportunity to demonstrate just what happens when we vote carelessly, elect a zealot who appoints operatives with no sense of honor or comprehension of right-and-wrong, then parties with rock stars while his coup d'etat unfolds.
Yes, I realize that throughout this essay I've used an analogy that some people will find offensive or even repugnant. But I've done this deliberately, because this is no time to hold back or to mince words. And if the president doesn't like being compared to a Nazi -- he should stop acting like one.
Herbert E. Meyer served during the Reagan Administration as Special Assistant to the Director of Central Intelligence and Vice Chairman of the CIA's National Intelligence Council. He is the recipient of the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal, the intelligence community's highest honor, and the author of How to Analyze Information and The Cure for Poverty.