In his Political Animal post “Losing the Thread on the IRS Mess” at Washington Monthly, Ed Kilgore illuminates the shifting GOP rationale for amping up the I.R.S. ‘scandal.’ Kilgore cites Steve Benen’s Maddow Blog post, noting that ‘the goalposts have moved rather quickly” and Jeffrey Toobin’s New Yorker observation that the White House seems to be rather more engaged in “the opposite of a cover-up.” Kilgore adds that The Village scribes’ new meme is that the white house is guilty of, gasp, political incompetence. Kilgore observes further:
Well, whatever. It’s not exactly breaking news that this White House, like any White House, isn’t politically infallible. If the scandal is poor handling of the scandal, we are a very long way from the original claims, which are still being repeated every single second throughout conservative-land, that the administration has gotten caught deploying the IRS to destroy the First Amendment rights (which apparently includes the right not to pay taxes and to hide donors) of innocent activists who were minding their own business.
The ultimate howler here is that we are supposed to believe that IRS bureaucrats, in obedience to the “dog whistle” of the president’s demonization of conservative groups’ involvement in the 2012 presidential campaign, chose to ignore the groups that were actually involved in the campaign in a significant way, and instead go after small fry Tea Party organizations (who apparently could not express their views without a certificate of tax-exempt status), many undoubtedly operating in non-competitive states. This idea reflects the deeper delusion that the Tea Party Movement is perceived by Democrats as a deadly threat to their electoral prospects, instead of as the Democratic Party’s very best friend, driving the GOP into extremism and political cul de sacs every day. You know, like the one we’re all barreling down right now in inflating IRS stupidity in processing 501(c)(4) applications into the central issue of American politics (with the possible exception of Benghazi!).
But hey, forget all that: Lois Lerner (the same bureaucrat who came up with the brilliant idea of making this whole subject very public by planting a question about IRS “targeting” at a luncheon so that she could “apologize”) is taking the Fifth! Crimes must have been committed! To hell with those portions of the Bill of Rights that don’t involve the self-protection of Tea Folk! To hell with the law and logic! Down the rabbit hole we go, world without end!
If this is the best they got, 2014 just might pan out substantially better than expected — for Democrats.