The most recent circling of the liberal wagons involves the somewhat apologetic excuses for the brewing IRS scandal. In an absolutely classic case of liberal twisting of logic and facts, the victims (the groups targeted for extra scrutiny) are now the scapegoats and the perpetrators (the IRS) are the low-level victims of a conservative assault on campaign finance laws. What is a poor IRS official to do? Their narrative goes something like this: after the Supreme Court handed down its Citizens United decision, the over-worked/under-staffed IRS was inundated with requests from groups for tax exempt status. Something had to be done to screen the truly worthy from the unworthy of that status. After all, those nasty Republicans in Congress had defeated the response to Citizens United- the DISCLOSE Act- which would have done an end-around that decision. Having failed to do it the "right way" through legislation, the IRS had no choice but to use certain monikers to flag applications. The fact that those monikers were words like "Tea Party," "Constitution," or "9/12" is brushed under the carpet. Some news agencies have even published "a-ha!" articles. For example, the Chicago Tribune trots out as evidence the fact that the IRS in 2012 denied tax exempt status to a single liberal-leaning group. Yep- a single entity denied tax exempt status. To paraphrase a recent line from "Saturday Night Live," even the TSA pulls the occasional white guy out of line at the airport to make it look good.
Ironically, these morons on the Left are the best advertisement for Citizens United and the alleged assault on campaign finance laws. To illustrate how ridiculous the IRS was in their hunt for those truly deserving of tax exempt status, several of the groups targeted had raised the lowly sums of $2,000 while the big fish on both sides received no scrutiny whatsoever. Why? Because they happened to have certain words in their titles. This whole episode also illustrates the hypocrisy of the Left on so many levels.
In effect, this effort by the IRS was nothing more than " political ideological profiling." It is no better and no worse than the policeman who pulls over a motorist because they are black and since blacks tend to statistically have a higher crime rate, the chances of catching a criminal are statistically higher if the policeman engages in such conduct. Likewise, if the organization uses the word "Tea Party" in their title, the statistical chances they are engaged in political activity is increased and they would most likely be denied tax-exempt status. The police officer asks the motorist a series of questions to determine why they are driving through this predominantly white neighborhood at such a late hour, where they have been, where they are going, have they been drinking, etc. The IRS likewise queries the group to determine their motives- who are your donors, what is your membership, how much money have you raised, what books do you read, we need to see your communications, etc.
Yet, the liberal will rail against the racial profiling of the stopped black or Hispanic motorist arguing that their civil rights have been violated. Then they turn a blind eye and make excuses when the same actions are taken against a group with which they disagree with politically. In that case, the IRS was only doing its job and what should one expect given the number of these groups filing for tax exempt status at the time? After all, they brought on the scrutiny themselves. If that is the case, then the black or Hispanic motorist brought on the scrutiny themselves also. Either profiling is wrong in all instances or it is effective in achieving its goals in most instances. They cannot have it both ways and they do not get to pick and choose when profiling is all fine and dandy and when it violates someone's civil rights. If pulling over a person in a traffic stop because they are black or Hispanic is a violation of civil rights, then targeting any group because they have "Tea Party" or "Patriot" in their name is an even more egregious violation of one's civil rights.
The liberal response falls into six main categories as best this writer can tell after surveying some 50+ liberal websites. Some are not surprisingly silent on the issue, like MoveOn.org. The first tactic is to simply downplay the entire scandal. This comes in a variety of forms from the outright denial that anything done by the IRS was simply not wrong to the assertions that Americans are growing tired of the "fake GOP" outrage at these scandals. Downplaying is further illustrated by focusing attention on what they have determined to be the true "scandal" this past week- the snooping on AP reporters because, in their minds, the press serves an important function in a democracy. Indeed, they do as our Founders noted in the First Amendment, but that argument only holds water provided the press is doing its job instead of becoming a de facto apologist for the Obama administration. Thus when it comes to the IRS scandal, they assert that it is only Republicans who care about the scandal and that the rest of the country wants to move on. The final leg of this group is that, once again, it is the right wing blogosphere and Fox News who are pushing the issue and it would be non-news if not for these outlets. As proof, they offer up a letter from the Inspector General to Darrel Issa (R-CA) in 2012 indicating that they were investigating this practice. To the Left, why all the controversy now if the GOP knew about the investigation a year ago? Could it be because the mainstream media ignored all those stories TWO or THREE years ago about the possible targeting of Tea Party groups?
The second category is the blame game. Here, liberals offer a plethora of excuses for the IRS behavior which includes the narrative that it was the actions of a local office in Cincinnati. Some have argued that it is a grand conspiracy by Republican and right wing operatives to eventually scuttle all campaign finance laws. One theory states that the entire scandal is manufactured by Karl Rove in order to prove that campaign finance laws are a farce and should just be eliminated. If so, then they are ignorant of the fact that Karl Rove's organizations have a woeful record in getting people elected. To me, that illustrates that voters actually think rather than react to advertisements. When Rove is not being blamed, then the Left's next-best bogeymen are trotted out- the Koch brothers.
Related to the blame game is the "It Is All O.K." gang. These guys assert that flagging certain groups is all well and good because it is a valuable tool to determine tax exempt status. They generally blame the Citizens United decision for opening the floodgates of groups seeking tax exempt status, that the IRS was over-burdened, and that they had to do "something." In effect, they are saying that the IRS was simply doing its job. They will even trot out the rare liberal group that was denied tax exempt status to somehow intimate that the IRS was even-handed in their treatment of groups. Of course, there is no shred of evidence to show that the IRS flagged groups with the word "progress" or "progressive" in it. But, that isn't really the point. It is truly chilling that perhaps the most dreaded federal agency would target any group based on their political ideology.
Then there is the fourth line of reasoning- political projection. This chorus puts forth the notion that the Tea Party and conservative groups brought on the scrutiny themselves. In this view, the IRS was simply again doing its job. Furthermore, this notion extends from the idea best described by former NAACP head Julian Bond that the Tea Party is nothing more than a racist hate group. After all, the Left claims, applying for tax exempt status is a voluntary act. Why would the Tea Party even apply for tax exempt status and then expect the IRS to rubber stamp the application without an investigation? To these people, the Tea Party is responsible for the heightened scrutiny of their applications because they are opposed to things like government spending gone awry, phony capitalism and advocate the view that Congress should stick to their constitutional duties. Color me silly, but that hardly sounds like a group "asking for it." They also use, for illustrative purposes, rare examples of groups that, as one article puts it, "Tea Party groups left in its wake a series of tax-related problems." In other words, it is only conservative groups out to game the system because only a liberal group wishes to "pay its fair share" of taxes.
The fifth line of reasoning attempts to be esoteric and academic. These views and articles try to dissect previous government scandals and illustrate that the IRS scandal is, at the end of the day, no scandal at all- just a blip on the radar screen that will be forgotten by time 2014 rolls around. It is interesting to note that they come to these conclusions after analyzing and cataloging past scandals involving Republicans- Nixon and Watergate, Reagan and Iran-Contra, Bush and just about anything he did. Of course, lying on a deposition about alleged sexual harassment is downplayed as a witch hunt against Clinton. Nor is there any analysis of Bert Lance and Jimmy Carter. These articles invariably come to the conclusion that Obama is no Nixon. In fact, he isn't- Obama is just plain either inept or out of the loop, but playing the "stupid game" only goes so far. And like some of the other lines of thinking, this one often draws a line back to the Citizens United decision as being the impetus for this entire episode. If only that conservative Supreme Court had not ruled as they did, there would be no IRS scandal today!
The final line appears to recognize that there is a scandal, or at least the appearance of improprieties, but then they downplay it all and look to solutions- the "What can we do to avoid this in the future?" crowd. Perhaps they realize that somewhere down the line it will be liberal groups targeted by the IRS. Again, their only solution comes down to one conclusion- either rescind Citizens United, or pass the Democratic-backed DISCLOSE Act. Again, if only those Republican right wingers in Congress had seen the light of day three years ago when it was first proposed, then there would be no "scandal" today. They assume that if an organization disclosed donors of $10,000 or more, then there would be no need for IRS actions. Of course, this would only have a chilling effect on political donations since many people, for many good reasons, prefer to remain anonymous. Hence, whether through forced disclosure through a DISCLOSE Act mechanism or targeting of certain groups by the IRS, political discourse is restricted and it has a chilling effect. In other words, either way the Left gets its way.
All of these excuses and deflections have one thing in common: ignorance. Part of that ignorance is attributable to the mainstream media's seven year love affair with everything Barack Obama. There are many who still hold the belief that any opposition to him is racially motivated. Some commentators- generally those with minimal brain circuitry- actually occasionally blurt out this belief- people like Julian Bond, Chris Matthews and Al Sharpton. They are the flame throwers of the Left who say what most on the Left believe and those beliefs affect what passes for "reporting." Had not the revelations come out against the Justice Department spying on AP reporter phone logs, there likely would be a greater downplaying of the IRS controversy. Only when they felt threatened did actions by this administration become questioned. The fact is that the mainstream media played into the narrative that the Tea Party and conservative groups were a fringe element of society- "astroturfed" if you will. They were denigrated in the press and somehow equated with the John Birch Society at best or the KKK at worst. They poke fun at conservatives for conspiracy theories, but they see right wing conspiracies whenever anything Obama does or proposes is questioned. It is always the big banks, or the oil companies, or the Tea Party conspiring to bring down Obama. Because you are the first half-black president to sit in the Oval Office does not give you carte blanch to run roughshod over the Constitution because you make great speeches. Nor does it allow your supporters to cry "race" every time someone disagrees with you. And it certainly does not allow the IRS to use its power to chill political speech.