President Obama's first ad of his reelection campaign didn't mention David and Charles Koch by name, but everyone knows that they are the "secretive oil billionaires" who "attack President Obama" mentioned in the ad's opening lines. With so much else going on both domestically and internationally kicking off his reelection campaign with a personal attack on private citizens did seem like an odd choice. But former solicitor general of the United States Ted Olson sees some darker forces involved. He writes in today's Wall Street Journal:
Richard Nixon maintained an"enemies list" that singled out private citizens for investigation and abuse by agencies of government, including the Internal Revenue Service. When that was revealed, the press and public were outraged. That conduct will forever remain one of the indelible stains on Nixon's presidency and legacy.
When Joseph McCarthy engaged in comparable bullying, oppression and slander from his powerful position in the Senate, he was censured by his colleagues and died in disgrace."McCarthyism," defined by Webster's as the "use of unfair investigative and accusatory methods to suppress opposition," will forever be synonymous with un-Americanism. Army counsel Joseph Welch's "Have you no sense of decency?" are words that evoke the McCarthy era and diminish the reputations of his colleagues who did nothing to stand up to him. ... This is why it is exceedingly important for all Americans to respond with outrage to what the president and his allies are doing to demonize and stigmatize David and Charles Koch. They have been the targets of the multiyear, carefully orchestrated campaign of vituperation and assault described above—and much more. It has been choreographed from the very top. When the president personally takes leadership, his political surrogates and army of allies in the press and Congress quickly and surely follow the direction and tone he sets.
Olson doesn't mention it, but there is a very simple reason Obama is targeting the Koch's: he can't run on his record. With unemployment still higher than when he took office, and the Congressional Budget Office now certifying he will fail to cut the deficit in half as he promised, he has no accomplishments to run on. All he can really do is identify villains and ask his supporters to punish them. That is what Obama's Buffett Rule is really all about. And that is why he is attacking the Koch's.