A late spring storm of Washington controversies has created a rare event in these partisan, polarized times: a shared I-told-you-so moment for the left and the right.

For anyone worried about the potential for government overreach, the past few weeks brought more cause for concern: the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups for special scrutiny; the Justice Department subpoenaing the records of media organizations in a search-and-destroy mission against their sources of information; and the National Security Agency sweeping up phone records and secretly tapping into the Internet services that have become the nervous system of 21st-century life.

All raise questions that go beyond ideological differences over the size and cost of government that have come to define the Democratic and Republican parties.