Big Government Makes Scandals Inevitable

Scandals are beginning to engulf the Obama administration faster than the sea level surrounding low-lying Pacific islands. Last week we learned about Benghazi talking points being edited. Friday we learned that the IRS targeted conservative political groups. Monday we learned the DOJ secretly seized two months of AP reporter phone records.

The scandals are dropping so fast now it’s getting hard to keep up. We have scandals tangential to other scandals (the IRS also accidentally grabbed millions of medical records?). We have scandals inside scandals (Holder recused himself with no written record of doing so?). We have minor scandals that are barely qualifying for airtime next to the major ones (The Army’s anti-sexual-harrassment official was accused of sexual assault just weeks after an Air Face anti-sexual-harrassment official was accused of the same thing? Obama admin is prosecuting Oil for killing bald eagles but not Wind?) When Jon Stewart skewers you two nights in a row for corruption and incompetency, you know this isn’t exactly a Fox News hullabaloo about Obama eating a falafel that was cooked by a guy who once allegedly complimented a terrorist’s turban.

Many are treating these revelations as some new, surprising thing. They’re certainly not new – My still-popular 218 Reasons list all sorts of abuses and questionable overreaches from Obama’s first term, from the NDAA, to drone strikes, to secret warrants and warrantless wiretapping, to federal raids, to blocking transparency, to prosecuting more whistleblowers than all previous presidents combined, to suing states, to appointing excessive numbers of lobbyists and fundraisers, to… well, you get the point.

So I’m not really surprised by the latest ones, either. In fact, I view them as inevitable. Part of my worldview is that people are imperfect. That is why we have always had corrupt politicians, and it’s why the more power they have, the more incompetence and corruption we will see, and the more costly this can be. That’s also why it’s important for conservatives to resist the temptation to pigeonhole this as an Obama thing – it’s a generic big government thing that is extremely likely to afflict every administration these days. Scandals are almost a sort of natural “market correction” to a government that grows too big, too ambitious, too arrogant.

The only thing that’s new or surprising is that the scandals are actually becoming front-page headline news for awhile. My cynical side thinks its convenient that it’s happening after Obama’s reelection, though it’s possible some of these are worse than before or that key revelations didn’t come out until now.

But the correct response to the abuse of a big government is not to simply fire some people and hope their replacements are better. The correct response is to limit the power that made abuses possible in the first place. Fortunately, there’s a decent chance we may get something like that for the freedom of press. Though I’m not going to hold my breath about the tax code.

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