Obama administration is best ally the GOP has in its hunt for scandals

If politics is a game, the Obama administration has gone through three relief pitchers and allowed Republican batters to clear the bases more than once. The sight of high-level IRS official Lois Lerner taking the fifth at a hearing today is just awful. The IRS scandal, where conservative groups were targeted for extra scrutiny by bureaucrats, is an offense everyone can relate to because it highlights a fear that most of us have — that someone in power will unfairly use his or her power to make our life difficult.

At best the whole IRS imbroglio is an example of ignorance and incompetence among lower-level employees. But we still don’t know if there was a deliberate effort by higher officials to specifically target conservative groups. That’s much worse. What has been learned is that high IRS officials knew about the scandal long before earlier this month, when a planted question at a routine press conference allowed the bad news to finally get out. There’s a lot of unanswered questions about this and the administration should follow the advice of liberal LA Times columnist Doyle McManus, which is be more forthcoming.

The IRS scandal could harm the implementation of ObamaCare. The tax collectors have a major role in enforcing the new health care law, and conveniently for GOP pols, the head of the Obamacare IRS squad played a role in the scrutiny of conservative groups. It’s easy to foresee a call that the IRS’s role in ObamaCare be eliminated.

A second wild pitch by the administration that legitimizes GOP scandal-searchers, such as Reps. Darrell Issa and Jason Chaffetz, is the news that the Justice Department identified Fox News journalist James Rosen as a “co-conspirator and/or aider and abettor” in an espionage investigation. This was learned after a slightly less embarrassing revelation that the Justice Department had been secretly ferreting through the work lives of Associated Press reporters

In this Washington post column, liberal journalist Dana Milbank explains why “The Rosen affair is as flagrant an assault on civil liberties as anything done by George W. Bush’s administration, and it uses technology to silence critics in a way Richard Nixon could only have dreamed of.

As Milbank notes, if you start to prosecute the press for doing its job just because the government doesn’t want the information out there, that infringes on the First Amendment. If that can be infringed on, the oppressors will feel free to take on other rights. Milbank writes: “Guns? Privacy? Due process? Equal protection? If you can’t speak out, you can’t defend those rights, either.”

The Rosen affair is similar to Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon papers, as well as efforts during World War II to indict the Chicago Tribune for treason based on its reporting. In both cases, Nixon and FDR lost their battles with the press.

I don’t believe any of the scandals, including Benghazi, will take down President Barack Obama. Frankly, I believe what some regard as ludicrous — that the president learned of the IRS scandal from reading the newspapers. In this era, presidents are closely protected and kept out of the loop by their staff. It may be a White House job description to fall on the sword, but that doesn’t extend to the commander in chief.

What’s happening is the result of a badly managed administration, one that appears to be far better at campaigning than governing.

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6 Responses to Obama administration is best ally the GOP has in its hunt for scandals

  1. midwinter says:

    “What’s happening is the result of a badly managed administration, one that appears to be far better at campaigning than governing.”

    What’s happening is the result of a) an interdepartmental turf war in the IRS that seems to have been handled swiftly and decisively; heads rolled as soon as the admin found out. And b) the GOP having demanded that the admin look into leakers (because they were arguing that the admin was deliberately leaking information that would make the Dems look good) at the cost of the first amendment.

    Regardless, I don’t see how you can look at these various scandals and say that this admin is badly managed. Heads rolled in the IRS and they rolled quickly. Investigations are underway into the Justice/reporter story. And Benghazi is a non-starter of a scandal that was always designed to move Kerry out of the Senate and to open up a space for another attempt at installing a GOP candidate in a MA senate seat.

    • pamela crump says:

      Ok, I just have one question for your community. How can one set of people that continually battle hate and ignorance for their personal choices and religious beliefs, damn and persecute others based on theirs. Wasn’t it your fore fathers who were jailed and chastised for marrying multiple wives? Don’t you ask that people mind their own business and that your church doesn’t try to persuade others into practicing their belief just that you all are hoping to give insight and possibly get some understanding by shedding light on the lives you choose. How dare you in the name of God treat others in the same malicious ignorance. It is not for anybody other then God to judge another. Let vengenace be mine, and love thy neighbor are some of his very universal teachings. I hope your church continues to have to run and hide from America as long as you continue to practice the same hate you are fighting. Why is it so difficult to turn your cheek on the sins you see like you ask the rest of the world to turn their cheeks on the sins you people choose to live in everyday. I seriously doubt God will ever give your community peace of mind until your community can extend that same respectfully to other communities. May God have mercy on you all

    • pamela crump says:

      I completely understand I am in the wrong forum, but I have been wanting to ask your church this question for so long. I just don’t understand how one person can tell another you are wrong, especially when you as a community ask to be given the freedom to live as you choose, yet you cannot let others live as they choose. I understand if you choose to cower from replying to my question. Most ignorance runs on not accepting your own shortcomings as a person.

  2. ScottH says:

    I disagree with the assertion that the IRS scandal would be worse if higher up officials were involved; although, that would be very bad of itself. If low level IRS officials (nobody knows who these people are or how/whether they have been disciplined, so saying that heads have rolled doesn’t really cut it) used the heavy hand of the tax collector to carry our their own political whims without the involvement of higher officials, we have a government that has run amok and is ungovernable. It is easier to fix the corruption of higher officials than to restore trust in a system that acts insidiously of its own accord.

    Having spent part of my career with the IRS, it is especially difficult for me to believe that low level officials managed to pull this off without the awareness of upline authorities. Throughout the system there are checkers to check the checkers of everything done at the IRS at every level. There would either have to be an incredible number of people implicated, a vast number of horridly incompetent people (a possibility), orders from higher-ups so provocative as to get career IRS employees to put their careers (which most IRS employees cherish above loyalty) on the line, or inducements to key individuals.

    The scandal need not reach the Oval Office for Occam’s Razor to suggest something dirtier afoot than has yet been reported.

  3. jjaj says:

    Heads rolled quickly??? One guy , who was leaving anyway, was let go a week or two early and the lady who was apparently in charge, made a statement of total innocence and then pled the 5th (amendment) and she is on paid administrative leave. Wow, I wish I could get that kind of punishment if I were in that situation.

    • Midwinter says:

      Steven Miller was appointed to a five year term in November, 2012. I’d say resigning in disgrace six months later constitutes a head rolling.

      Joseph Grant is “retiring” in a few days. He’s only been with the IRS for a few years.

      Lois Lerner, who took he fifth, has been suspended.

      I really don’t understand what the people complaining about this actually want to see happen.

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