As noted, there were two big stories of government scandal this week. If we didn’t know it before, we certainly know now that some government officials lied about what they knew in the days following the 9/11/12 attacks in Benghazi. We also know that other officials told untruths about whether the Internal Revenue Service harassed conservative organizations applying for tax exempt status.
But let’s rewind a little further. On Sunday, before those stories broke, President Obama told the graduating class of Ohio State University:
Unfortunately, you’ve grown up hearing voices that incessantly warn of government as nothing more than some separate, sinister entity that’s at the root of all our problems; some of these same voices also doing their best to gum up the works. They’ll warn that tyranny is always lurking just around the corner. You should reject these voices. Because what they suggest is that our brave and creative and unique experiment in self-rule is somehow just a sham with which we can’t be trusted.
See how that works? If you mistrust the government, then you mistrust the people, since the people are in charge of the government. In that moral universe, we’re all responsible for politically motivated harassment of non-profits, and we’re all responsible for lying to ourselves about why an American ambassador was murdered. That formulation is awfully convenient if you’re the one in charge of the government.