The dog whistle quote came via NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday from Peggy Noonan, who can no longer be taken seriously as a writer or pundit. When host David Gregory pressed her on the lack of evidence for her claims that the IRS scandal was worse than Watergate, Noonan insisted that the president “was giving a dog whistle to people who could launch this thing.” The former Reagan-Bush speechwriter vividly summed up, in her thousand points of crazy style, where the IRS “scandal” went over the last few days: Obama didn’t need to order the tax agency to harass Tea Party groups (and his critics don’t need proof that he did so): his criticizing the group during the 2012 campaign, as well as blasting the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision, represented an implicit order to do so.(Noonan, who we must presume as entirely blotted all of pre-2008 Republican history from her mind, also said "this IRS thing is something I've never seen in my lifetime," which is known Washington-wide as a phrase that signals a need to call the number on the speaker's medical alert bracelet.)
To be fair to Noonan, she's not entirely off the farm on this one (or, rather, the whole farm is tagging along with her; the fences are in a bit of a state of disrepair, these days.) The "dog whistle" bit seems to be the new purported explanation for why something that apparently didn't involve Obama in fact deeply involves Obama, and is worse than Watergate precisely because it didn't involve Obama, or some such. Obama is so evil that he doesn't even have to tell his subordinates to target his enemies, they just do it on based on evil osmosis. Nixon specifically ordered the IRS to go after his opponents. Obama didn't, you see, and that makes the Obama administration … worse. If you can understand that, you are either a Republican political strategist or under the influence of a drug you don't have a prescription for.
So now we've finally reached the point where they're saying it outright: For a Democratic president, campaigning on his own behalf is toeing the line of impeachable offense. Merely criticizing his opponents is scandal enough; there doesn't need to be anything more than that. The Noonans of the world are willing to work themselves into a rabid lather over things like Death Panels, and whether the president maybe secretly wanted Americans to die in Benghazi because something-something-pineapple, but a Democrat pointing out that a certain Supreme Court decision is a catastrophudge, now that's over the line of propriety. Noonan floated through Iran-Contra like it was a mosquito buzzing in the nation's ear, but a president lavishing insufficient praise on his clumsily self-rebranded "Tea Party" opponents, now that we will not abide. (Did the president even address the Tea Party much, during his campaign? If he didn't make a speech calling them conspiracy-humping rednecks with rampant literacy problems, he wasn't hard on them.)
They're not even trying anymore. The pundit circuit is just a Roman orgy, at this point, there for the glittering self-pleasure of the thing. The same new pseudo-conservative wisdom that went from saying "government is bad" to actively Not Goddamn Governing has now decided that, eff it all, there's just no point in supervising the discourse at all, anymore, not when you get paid the same either way, and get to attend the same social functions, either way, and when you can get ten times the praise for saying something stupid than you can saying something smart. Worse than Watergate because Obama didn't do it? Screw it, go with it, now let's go get drunk.