Obama and Henry II; Obama and Martin Niemöller; and Obama and Al Capone

Congratulations, folks!  When it comes to the IRS audit scandal, you are about to get three apt historical comparisons in a single post.

The background, of course, is the cascading downpour of news stories revealing that the IRS deliberately audited Tea Party groups, patriot groups, small government groups, and pro-Israel groups.  The auditing started in 2010, but reached a crescendo during Obama’s campaign for re-election.  The result was that several groups hostile to Obama and his policies were completely broken or rendered paralyzed during key moments in the Obama administration.  Obama’s responsibility, and the reaction to this true witch-hunt made me think of three historic parallels.

1.  Obama and Henry II.  I’m willing to bet you never thought of Obama in connection with Henry II (1133-1189).  Henry was the lusty, rowdy, all-conquering (at least initially) 12th century English king who married Eleanor of Aquitaine, the richest, most beautiful woman in Europe; ruled large sections of France; fathered sons who went off on crusades and set put a signature to the first “rights” document ever written; and generally set the stage for England’s prominent role on the world stage for so many centuries.

Obama is the exact opposite — not lusty, not rowdy, terrified of conquest, married to a woman whose primary claim to beauty is her arms, etc.  And yet, there’s a thread that binds them.  I thought of it when I read about the defense Obama-ites are offering when it comes to the really horrible scandal about the IRS targeting conservative groups and Jewish groups, essentially disabling them during Obama’s first term and, especially, in the lead-up to the election.

According to Obama’s defenders, even if one concedes that what the IRS did was a bad thing, Obama shouldn’t be touched by the scandal.  It was not Barack’s fault.  Leave Barack alone!!  The IRS’s version of events is that  “low level” employees committed these tyrannical acts.  The New York Times goes so far as to blame the whole thing on the GOP (and certainly wins the George Orwell “1984″ Reporting Award for doing so).  Message:  this is not Obama’s fault.  Barack Obama himself has gone on record as being surprised and dismayed.

You know what?  This may be true.  I’m perfectly willing to believe that Obama didn’t personally order these audits.  But I can’t help thinking of Henry II.  Once upon a time, early in his reign, Thomas Becket was Henry II’s closest friend.  The relationship lasted right up until Henry elevated Becket to be Archbishop of Canterbury.  It was then that Becket, who had been a priest for years, finally had his “come to Jesus” moment.  He began opposing Henry vigorously on government policies that affected the Church, so much so that he became a thorn in Henry’s side.

Eventually, goaded beyond bearing, Henry cried out rhetorically “Will no one rid me of this turbulent (or meddling) priest?” (or, perhaps, the wordier “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?”).  It’s important to note that Henry never ordered Becket’s death.  He just whined about the fact that Becket’s existence interfered with his goals.  Four of Henry’s knights heard these words and decided to help out.  They rode to Canterbury and stabbed Thomas to death inside the Cathedral itself.

Although the facts made it impossible to hold Henry guilty for having ordered Becket’s death, everyone understood that his attitude caused it.  Henry was castigated throughout Europe.  Four years after Becket’s death, he donned a sack-cloth and walked barefoot through Canterbury’s streets as eighty monks flogged him with branches. Henry then spent the night in the martyr’s crypt.  Henry also promised the Papacy that he’d go crusading in Becket’s memory, although never did so.  As it happened, Richard I, Henry’s oldest son, more than made up for his father’s broken promise.

Obama has made it plain in almost every speech he’s given that Republicans must be destroyed.  He has not treated them as partners in governing America.  Through straw men arguments, slanders, and insults, he has painted them as the other and made it clear that the only way for him to achieve full greatness is for his enemy to be wiped out.  Small wonder that party loyalists, whether at the upper level of the IRS or in the Ohio office too him seriously.

Even if Obama is not practically culpable, he is morally culpable, just as Henry was for Becket’s death.

2.  Obama and Martin Niemöller.  The IRS scandal has been brewing for a long time.  Conservative bloggers and pro-Israel groups have been complaining for years about their targeting.  The mainstream media completely ignored these complaints, or, alternatively, contended that they occurred because the GOP politicized everything, so every conservative organization was political.  The media and the White House would have happily continued along this path if Lois Lerner, for reasons that are still unclear, hadn’t blown the story wide-open by admitting that targeting happened.

The Obama administration’s and the media’s responses, reminded me forcefully of Pastor Martin Niemöller’s famous statement after WWII, when he was strongly regretting his Nazi past:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

3.  Obama and Al Cap0ne The press has been ignoring Benghazi as much as possible.  They’re starting to wake up a little bit to the fact that they were played (or rather, they let themselves be played), but it’s been a slow boil, one that took eight months and enormous pressure from the GOP, conservatives generally, and the families of those who died.  Even the recent hearing haven’t gotten them too excited, as they try to exculpate Hillary and Obama, downplay the credentials of the whistle-blowers, and generally hew to their “nothing to see here; move along” attitude.  Most reasonable thinkers admit that, while embarrassing for Obama, nothing that has yet been revealed about his defalcation and cover-up will justify legal action or impeachment claims against him.

It’s been different with the IRS scandal.  Once it couldn’t deny the story any more, the media has really gone after it.  Even Morning Joe, one of the normally complacent Obama Administration shows on MSNBC, was upset by this tyranny.  We now know what really puts the fear of Gaia into Leftists:  They’re not worried about terrorist attacks; they’re afraid of an IRS audit.  That’s pathetic, of course, but there’s a good side.  If the IRS audit scandal exposes the corruption running deep and wide through the Obama administration, I guess that’s good, with the end (the administration’s downfall) mattering more than the means to achieve it.

All of which made me think of Al Capone.  He was the biggest mob boss in the 1920s.  In addition to the direct hits he ordered, one cannot count the numbers of lives lost to the moral degeneration and violence that flowed throughout American society because of Capone’s rum running and prostitution businesses.  The problem for the Feds was that Capone kept his fingerprints off these grossly illegal and immoral activities.  Everybody knew he was involved, but prosecutors couldn’t prove it.  What they could prove, though, was that Al Capone lied on his tax returns — and that’s how he ended up spending years in federal prison.  Capone emerged from Alcatraz broken, broke, and rotting inside from the syphilis that eventually killed him.

Thinking of Al Capone, there is some irony to the fact that it might be taxes that bring down one of the most corrupt administrations in American history.

(This post has been updated to clear away a totally embarrassing typo that saw me confuse Richard I’s and Richard III’s numerical designator.)

Be Sociable, Share!


  1. Gringo says

    Another example of the Henry II/meddling priest scenario comes from Obama’s  2008 encounter with Joe The Plumber in, coincidentally, Ohio. After Joe The Plumber had the chutzpah to disagree with The Won, an Ohio state employee released confidential tax records of Joe the Plumber. There are many minions who are more than willing to rid Obama of anyone remotely perceived to be a “meddling priest.”
    Here is a list from Chicago Boyz of IRS officials involved. It also links to an ABC news timeline of the IRS-Tea Party case
    1. Determinations Unit Group Manager (Ohio?) [1] — 1 Mar 2010 2. Acting Manager, Technical Unit [1] (Ohio) — 16 Mar 2010 3. New Acting Manager, Technical Unit [2] (Ohio) — 1 Apr 2010 4. Determinations Unit Program Manager (Ohio?) — 25 Apr 2010 5. Determinations Unit Area Manager (Ohio?)– 26 Oct 2010 6. Technical Unit manager (Ohio) — 16 Nov 2010 7. Senior Technical Advisor to the Director, EO (IRS Washington DC) — 13 Dec 2010 8. New Technical Unit Acting Manager [3] (Ohio) — Jan 2011 9. Acting Director, Rulings and Agreements [1] (IRS Washington DC) — 1 June 2011 10. Director, EO. (IRS Washington DC) — 29 June 2011 11. -Title or titles unknown- in EO function (IRS Washington DC) Headquarters office — 5 July 2011 12. IRS Chief Counsel (IRS Washington DC) — 4 Aug 2011 13. New Acting Director, Rulings and Agreements [2] (IRS Washington DC) — October 2011 14. New Acting Group Manager “of the team of specialists” (Ohio?) — March 2012 15. Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement (IRS Washington DC) — 8 Mar 2012 16. Senior Technical Advisor to the Acting Commissioner, Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division (IRS Washington DC) — 23 Mar 2012 17. Deputy Commissioner for Services and Enforcement (IRS Washington DC) — 23 Mar 2012 18. Senior Technical Advisor to the Acting Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division Commissioner (IRS Washington DC) — 23 Apr 2012 19. Director, Rulings and Agreements (May be same as #10 above, IRS Washington DC)– 17 May 2012 20 -Title(s) Unknown- Quality Assurance Unit (Ohio?) — May 2012 21 -Title(s) Unknown- Operations Unit (Ohio?) — May 2012 22. New Acting Determinations Unit Group Manager [2] (Ohio) — 15 July 2012


  2. JKB says

    All these low level employees running amok. All the mid level State department officials who Hillary couldn’t control enough to protect the ambassador and others. The administration is beset by unmanageable government employees.  
    Has the federal government become ungovernable?  Has it grown so unwieldy that even the best of our ‘elite” cannot manage it?  Is it beyond management controls?  Everyone running around doing whatever they want, however they want?  
    If so, should we not pare it down to the core competencies?  If the President cannot ensure the taxes are collected correctly, could it be he has to many other non-core programs that distract his focus?  Perhaps we should break up the federal government and move the non-core responsibilities to others levels of government or perhaps stop the programs altogether?

  3. SADIE says

    It’s not an admininstration – it’s a cartel run by an elected mob with Eric Holder, Janet Napolitano, IRS,  et al as their enforcers.  The Tea Party and any like affiliates have been clamoring for years – are all Repubicans deaf? They certainly did NOT come to their aid. In fact, they minimized their imput starting with Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann. The GOP has their own plans with the Gang of Eight, which might as well be called Cartel Ocho. Gee, do ya think the R-controlled House of Reps asked any questions as DHS was buying up billions of bullets? Wonder why they didn’t and why they didn’t raise hell and I am not the only one asking questions ….
    Put not your trust in politicians… http://sultanknish.blogspot.com/

  4. Danny Lemieux says

    This is all sooo Chicago! 
    So, let’s see if we can summarize:
    Scandals hitting the light of day:
    1) Benghazi
    2) IRS Audits
    3) Telephone taps on Journalists
    4) Co-option of Mass Media by placing relatives of top MSM executives into cushy government jobs (i.e., payoffs).
    Scandals still bubbling below the surface:
    5) Pigford Scandal
    6) Green Energy money laundering to favored donors and friends.
    7) Backroom deals to ship weapons to Jihadi organizations 
    8) Leakage of confidential info to Green Activists and the use of fake email addresses by EPA Administrator.
    9) Misuse of government (executive orders) to circumvent the law and bankrupt politically incorrect businesses (e.g., coal, fishing concerns) while favoring other party-linked businesses (e.g., GE, General Motors).
    Are there any others that I have missed?
    My guess-timate is that there are other pre-emergent scandals about which we haven’t heard anything yet. I really do believe that pretty soon the dam will break as thousands of party hacks and government employees start frantically covering their backsides regarding all sorts of matters. I propose that the effectiveness of the Obama administration is effectively…over! 

    • says

      Yikes, FunkyPhD! I actually knew that, since I can recite the Kings and Queens of England from Henry on forward as something of a parlor trick. Apparently my typing fingers are much less well informed than my history brain. I corrected the error — and thank you very much for pointing it out.

  5. Danny Lemieux says

    Whoops! Let’s add “Fast & Furious” to the list. That makes 10.
    Plus there is this interesting potentially pre-emergent scandal – the just-disclosed subsidization of Lamborghini dealers by the Federal Government.  Of course, this could just be a bureaucratic screw-up, but if the dealerships prove to be Obama supporters (I suspect Hollywood is involved here), then it falls into the “scandal” column. 

  6. Spartacus says

    A serious question:  Between Benghazi and the IRS, can anyone name anything that Tricky Dick Nixon did in Watergate that was qualitatively worse?  If no one here can think of anything, maybe someone has some knowledgeable friends on the Left who can help out?  Surely they’d want to help answer a question like that.
    Don’t get me wrong:  Nixon lied, obstructed justice, and abused his power in the cover-up, for which he richly deserved impeachment.  And both parties could agree on that, because as uncharitable as it may seem not helping to take out the other party’s trash, failure to take out your own is worse.  It wasn’t just that he’d stayed in DC past his expiration date and become a RINO; he was a corrupt RINO.
    But in all fairness, Tricky Dick didn’t know about the initial burglary (“Who was the ******* who ordered it?” was his reaction, recorded on a tape obviously never intended for distribution).  And he would never have neglected security at an American facility on foreign soil, especially after repeated pleas for more of it.  He wouldn’t have simply smiled and nodded vaguely and retired upstairs for the evening if told that one of our consulates was under attack.  He wouldn’t have fired a theater commander interested in taking bold action to save American lives.  Historical revision after the fact?  Intimidation and demotion of witnesses?  Yeah, that’s precisely why he was staring into the jaws of impeachment.  And moving from Benghazi to the IRS, abuse of power to persecute his political enemies?  Again, that’s why they were warming up the impeachment machine.
    Now, that said, would impeachment hearings be a wise move on the part of the Republicans?  Emphatically not, as the Senate Dems would circle the wagons as in Zippergate, and the whole effort would backfire.  By design, successful impeachment results only from overwhelming public agreement.  But the more they can tie all of these scandals together and keep them in the news, holding Barack’s exposed posterior over the fire to roast slowly and painfully, the more of a morality play it will be.

  7. JKB says

    Well, so far, Obama didn’t know know about the IRS targeting.  But he does, even though he and his staff don’t seem to know, set the tone for the Executive Branch.  Look at his statement on the IRS scandal.  Somebody, somewhere needs to hold those IRS employees accountable.  It is very community organizer.  It’s almost like he doesn’t even know that ultimately the chief of the Executive Branch, that would the President for those who sought o avoid audit by not becoming educated about the Constitution, is the one who holds the Executive Branch accountable.  Instead we have the words of a figurehead.  
    The alternative is we have a 4th branch of government, the Bureaucracy, that is unmanaged by the Executive Branch, barely accountable to the Legislative Branch and barely acknowledges the Judicial Branch.  Just who is running things in Washington, DC. and all the other federal fiefdoms?
    Look at Obama’s statements in regards to the federal bureaucracy/employes since taking office.  All passive voice, making a general statement that implies that someone must hold them accountable, but he doesn’t know who, maybe Congress or better yet, some judge.  Anyone but the elected head of the Executive Branch.  Heck, it was only a week or so ago when Obama’s staff were running around saying his “red line” statement wasn’t White House policy and he misspoke.  Simply clueless that what the President says in foreign relations is not only White House policy but US policy.  
    There is a growing body of evidence that Obama and the Democrats don’t know that elected office comes with responsibility.  Is it any wonder they scoffed when Sarah Palin said that a mayor was like a community organizer but with real responsibilities.  We thought they were just trying to distract but they were really confused.

  8. JKB says

    You know, for all the “I” Obama uses in his speeches, you don’t seem to find the “I” and “accountable” in the same sentence.  Forget, “I am accountable”, you won’t find “I will hold accountable”.  It’s always “they should be held accountable”.  He’s very passive when it comes to accountability.  Hmm?

  9. Gringo says

     It’s always “they should be held accountable”.  He’s very passive when it comes to accountability.  Hmm
    How much time will pass before Obama tries to blame George W. Bush for the IRS scancal?

  10. JKB says

    Gringo, I don’t know if Obama has but someone has already put up George W. Bush as the responsible party. That guy is amazing, he’s responsible for everything it seems, even after leaving office for a full term.  

  11. Danny Lemieux says

    This already-feckless administration is about to have 100% of its time devoted to dealing with scandals and crimes of its own making that it will render it totally unable to deal with a world that, also due largely to its ineptitude, is about to explode in flames. The U.S. will be leaderless and adrift.
    Alternately, we should probably hope that the Obama administration does NOT involve itself in world affairs, because that would only add fuel to a spreading fire. But then, I also have to remind myself that much of the world had nothing but disdain for Pax Americana and they are now about to get that for what they wished.
    “Some men just want to watch the world burn.” 

  12. Ron19 says

    According to Obama and the MSM, former President George W. Bush has been more effective since he left office than his successor has been effective since taking office.

  13. Danny Lemieux says

    When it rains, it pours. 
    Add one more to the list: HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius shaking down companies that HHS regulates for donations. 
    CIA is now indicating that another shoe is ready to drop. Hmmm.

  14. Spartacus says

    JKB — Forget mapping the human genome or the human brain.  If teams of scientists want something to keep them busy for years, they should try to compile a list of all the things Barack has said that he wasn’t responsible for, or didn’t know about, or were caused by external factors (like the weather, earthquakes, or George W. Bush).
    Danny — You just reminded me of a great Andrew Klavan line, something like, “… a White House so feckless that even if a feck somehow managed to sneak into the White House, it would die of loneliness.”

  15. says

    The Left doesn’t base their power upon numbers, so it doesn’t matter whether they are a minority in this country. Since the Left’s power will make mincemeat of any superior numerical force, just as Napoleon’s grapeshot did. Superior technology, propaganda, and weapons of mass destruction/deception can account for a lot of numbers. 
    Being in a majority only matters for a democracy. Not a totalitarian dictatorship that pretends to be a demoncracy.

  16. says

    Obama and the Left already knows who they are at war with. The rest of America still thinks they are on diplomatic peace talks. Which is about as enforceable as Israel’s ceasefires with the Palestinians.
    Just because Americans refuse to believe they’re at war with the Left, doesn’t mean the Left has their hands tied when it comes to blowing their enemies up.

  17. says

    Nixon was a true enemy of the Left. That’s why they took such pains to get rid of them, even including an alliance between different factions of the Left.
    I believe that people will find that much of what they know about the Watergate goings on, were fabricated via a subtle use of propaganda in order to benefit the Left’s narrative.


  1. Watcher’s Council nominations…

    The Noisy Room – Invaders Guarding the Watchtower The Colossus of Rhodey – “Morality and Conscience” GrEaT sAtAn”S gIrLfRiEnD – The Difference It Made The Political Commentator – Cartoon, Video: Hey recent college graduate, congratulations?…

  2. Watcher’s Council winners…

    *First place with 3 votes! Bookworm Room –  Obama and Henry II; Obama and Martin Niemöller; and Obama and Al Capone Second place with 2 2/3 votes – The Right Planet- Exasperation: A Nation on the Brink Third place with……

  3. Watcher’s Council Results…

    Here are this week’s full results. Council Winners*First place with 3 votes! Bookworm Room –  Obama and Henry II; Obama and Martin Niemöller; and Obama and Al Capone Second place with 2 2/3 votes – The Right Planet- Exasperation: A Nation on the B…

Leave a Reply