Conservative pundits have reacted to news that Dinesh D’Souza was arrested and James O’Keefe was subpoenaed with suggestions that the actions are politically motivated. D’Souza is charged with facilitating straw-man campaign contributions to a losing Republican candidate and O’Keefe whose infiltration of Democratic Party operations with secret cameras is the stuff of legend, is facing a routine subpoena from Andrew Cuomo.
In both cases the investigators just happened to stumble onto their suspect activities. “The Indictment [of D’Souza] is the result of a routine review by the FBI of campaign filings with the FEC by various candidates after the 2012 election for United States Senator in New York”. The Daily Beast notes the similarly routine provenance of the inquiries into O’Keefe.
O’Keefe says that the state’s Department of Labor is now demanding two and a half years worth of financial and payroll documents and threatening them with a subpoena….
A spokesman for the state’s Department of Labor said that they are required by law to make sure that businesses pay into an unemployment insurance fund, and that whenever businesses use outside contractors the state requests routine information about those employees. When employers do not respond to multiple requests for information, they must as a matter of law face a subpoena for further information.
None of this is to say that D’Souza or O’Keefe are factually innocent or guilty of any putative irregularities. Politics was never in the best of circumstances ever too clean. But even if the accused are hypothetically guilty of something it is hard to imagine that politics did not play a role in landing them in a pickle. Political considerations and factual innocence are not correlated. They operate independently of each other. Guilt is a circumstance while political considerations are the circumstance that gets things noticed. For as the saying goes, “just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they’re not out to get you.”
Although fears that a witch-hunt is on will be dismissed as tin-foil hat conspiracy theory by the MSM, that is probably the intended effect of the administration. They would love to send a chill down every conservative’s spine. It would be seemingly to their advantage for every conservative activist wake up in a sweat; to regard each delivery of mail, each peek into their email inbox with trepidation. Which administration hack would not enjoying watching their rivals react to each knock at the door like the summons of doom? “Thank God … I’m not James O’Keefe”. And as for the conservative activists, if they are not “moderate” already then many will hasten to be. The backtracking, the penances, the confessions of past immoderation are already being drafted. Which would be the point, wouldn’t it, to as Mao said, “kill the chicken to scare the monkey”?
But since the subject is hypotheticals, what should the hypothetical response of conservatives be to a hypothetical crackdown? Most people would advocate demonstrations and petitions and letters to the editor denouncing the administration. And that’s all fine, but there is one counterintuitive response: to redouble the grassroots revolt against the institutional Republican Party, a strategy that is not as crazy as it sounds.
Why respond to an administration crackdown with the rebellion against the RINOs?
One can imagine — hypothetically of course — that the attacks are a way of saving the RINOs from the ‘Tea Party’ threat. A kind of favor from a friend in power. The phrase ‘Tea Party’ is used in this context as a catch-all term to describe all conservative groups that are wroth with the institutional Republicans. If these pestilential provocateurs can be split off the Republican moderates, then the DC set can return to the good old days of the gentleman’s game. There might even be institutional Republicans muttering to themselves, “well I knew that those ill-mannered fellows would come to no good! They should have joined the Democratic Party! Not to get back to reaching across the aisle.”