The First Amendment is sacred to me. It sits at the heart of what our system of government is all about. The right of the people to express their views openly without the fear of government retribution is fundamental. The right of the press to investigate the government is essential. The Fourth Estate's ability to do its work without worrying about government interference is as essential as the people's to speak their minds.
Having said all of that the idea that the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) did searches and investigations of Tea Party groups and those with the word "patriot" in their names is so wrong, just as wrong as when the IRS did the same thing to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). It was also really stupid.
Now reports are out that the Associated Press' (AP) phones have been monitored. Not just individual phones but main ones, used by multiple reporters to call God knows how many sources. There is no justification for this kind of action.
Everyone involved with both of these has to go. Eric Holder should either resign or be fired. I don't know which one I prefer, I go back and forth but he needs to go. If he really thought this was a good idea, he should not have been there in the first place.
And you, Mr. President, should also know better. As a former constitutional professor, I would expect you would be familiar with the First Amendment and the reasons it is so important to our democratic process. I am really, really disappointed in you on this one.
These also are incredibly stupid moves politically. To give people who already think the government overreaches at best and is actively pursuing them at worst is unbelievably stupid. You undermine all the work you want to do in Congress (gun control, immigration) and what people all over the country do to elect Democrats. We try to explain that the government can do good and is not the force for evil they think it is and then the IRS does this? Nice. Thanks.
Now, personally, I think the IRS mess was incompetence, who hired these people? I am far more upset by the AP mess in terms of looking at the motive behind it (I don't think the IRS' actions were politically motivated just stupid). This administration has shown contempt for the media as most do. But this smacks of more than the normal adversarial back and forth between the press and the president.
What I also don't get is the complete lack of thinking. Did you really think this would not be found out? The House Republicans are leaving no stone unturned to make this president look sinister. This administration should know better than to do things that look sinister. Both of these things look sinister. WTF?
The actions of this administration are undermining the American public's trust of its government. That is exactly what the Republicans want.
President Obama, you'd best respond more angrily about this next time or the Democrats are going to lose the Senate in 2014 and have no chance of getting the House back. If you like working with a Congress that's only half Republican now, you're gonna love it when they have the whole thing. This will also make it harder for any Democrat to win in 2016.