Here is what the 44th president had to say about how the agency should operate: “Americans have a right to be angry about it, and I’m angry about it. It should not matter what political stripe you’re from. The fact of the matter is the IRS has to operate with absolute integrity.” Obama said this as he announced the dismissal of the acting commissioner for failing to prevent political abuse.

Here is what the 37th president had to say about how the agency should operate: “Are we looking over the financial contributors to the Democratic National Committee? Are we running their income tax returns? … We have all this power and we aren’t using it. Now, what the Christ is the matter?”

Nixon did not have a fetish for maximizing revenue. The point, a memo from the White House counsel helpfully explained, was to “use the available federal machinery to screw our political enemies.” On multiple occasions, at the behest of the president or his top aides, the IRS was told to audit individuals whose activities created dissatisfaction in the Oval Office…

In Nixon’s mind, using tax agents as political operatives was not only excusable but exemplary. In the case of Obama, there is no evidence that he or his Treasury Secretary was aware of the mistreatment of conservative groups — much less that either of them requested it.