It was like a recurring bad dream, watching another government official contritely admitting that mistakes were made, while indignantly denying any intentional wrongdoing, and confidently proclaiming that the problems have been corrected. This time, it was IRS Commissioner John Koskinen testifying before incredulous congressional investigators. While telling them that emails crucial to their investigation had been lost when IRS computers crashed and their hard drives were subsequently destroyed, he continued to insist that it was an honest mistake. All that talk about destruction of evidence was personally offensive to him.
We’ve seen it all before.
We saw Attorney General Eric Holder provide clearly deceptive, possibly perjured testimony in the investigation of the Justice Department’s improper targeting of news media. We saw former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton dodging questions about the brazen deceit surrounding the Benghazi massacre. Then of course, there was Koskinen, trying to explain away the illegal targeting of conservative groups by the IRS. Their M.O. was the same. Call it a misunderstanding, take responsibility, but certainly not blame, and brand the investigation a political witch-hunt.
Throughout their testimonies, none of them demonstrated either the confidence of innocence, or the remorse of guilt, but rather the smug arrogance of an influential racketeer – one who knows he can’t be touched because the fix is in. Surrounded by the protective cocoon of the administration and the liberal media, they felt invulnerable. In fact, considering the routine destruction of evidence, and the willful blindness of this administration, no one will be prosecuted, and we’ll just have to accept the notion that there is no government corruption – not a smidgeon.
But their testimonies also revealed an unmistakable air of self-righteousness. Their snide and dismissive responses showed utter contempt for the Republican-led committees and for the whole process. They seem to believe that their party has the moral high ground, even if they have to break a few rules to hold on to it.
That false sense of self-righteousness has been fostered over the years by the Democratic Party and the liberal media, which regularly portray conservatives as the incarnation of evil. They distort basic conservative values shared by most Americans – responsible spending, the sanctity of life, and national sovereignty – and brand conservatives as heartless, misogynist, and anti-immigrant. The President has led the chorus, even referring to Republicans as “our enemies.”
These Democratic zealots probably don’t see themselves as corrupt government officials, but as soldiers on the side of justice. They see Republicans and conservatives as enemies of the state, thus justifying their deception and dishonesty. So like the President, they’ve taken it upon themselves to decide which laws to respect, and which to ignore. They decide when it’s necessary to deceive Congress, or the American people.
This concept of justifiable dishonesty is succinctly laid out in the western classic, The Wild Bunch. In the film, there’s a discussion between the two main characters about integrity. One talks about the moral bond created when a man gives his word – even if given to someone he despises. He concludes emphatically, “It’s his word!” The other responds, “That ain’t what counts! It’s who you give it to!”
One saw integrity as black and white. The other embraced the idea of justifiable dishonesty, reserving his integrity for those who deserve it. Like Lois Lerner, the central figure in the IRS scandal, these Democrats, many of whom now refer to themselves as Progressives, seem to have designated themselves arbiters of morality. They have no problem cheating and deceiving conservatives and Republicans because they feel morally justified doing so.
There was another, more principled 20th century Progressive, who addressed this very issue. She was, in fact, one of the founders of the Progressive Party and a Nobel Peace Prize recipient. It was Jane Addams who said, “The essence of immorality is the tendency to make an exception of myself.”
Even in America, there has been and will always be isolated cases of government corruption in both parties. Historically, it has spawned out of basic human flaws like greed and ambition. But when government functionaries feel morally justified excluding themselves from the laws they are sworn to uphold, widespread corruption is inevitable. And when they ally themselves with a President who routinely exceeds his constitutional authority and ignores the laws of our country, it can only lead to something much worse, something we’ve never experienced in America before – absolute control by the state – totalitarianism.
Peter Lemiska has spent more than 28 years in government service. He is a former Senior Special Agent of the U.S. Secret Service and an Air Force veteran. His political commentaries appear regularly on renewamerica.com and have been widely published on line and in print. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.