The IRS Scandal: There is No Smoking Gun
There will no doubt be Congressional hearings into the brewing IRS scandal that just seems to get worse by the day, especially evey time Jay Carney opens his mouth. To illustrate the fact that where there is smoke, there likely is fire one need only look at where we are now. This entire episode came to light publicly when an IRS official, speaking before an American Bar Association panel, made the revelations about targeting groups with the words “Tea Party” or “patriot” in their names. This was in response to a question from someone at that ABA conference and seemed like it came out of the blue. We later found out that the question was a plant- suggested and worded and passed on to the questioner. This leads one to conclude that the only possible explanation was that the administration was aware of the impending Inspector General’s report and that they wanted to “get out ahead of the story.” Of course, this occurred on a Friday- the slowest news day heading into the weekend. In fact, Obama then tells the country that he first heard about the report when the news reported it on Friday. Carney then goes before the press and announces that no one in the White House was aware. We later find out that the IG informed Treasury Department officials in June 2012 that he was looking into the targeting allegations. We later find out that White House officials were notified of the probe in April of this year. It may very well be true that this information was not passed up the food chain to the Oval Office.
In a classic case of either a cover-up or just plain ineptitude, IRS officials, in response to Congressional questioning, cannot identify where the idea to target certain groups came from, who ordered it, etc. The questions are answered with a panalopy of “I don’t know,” “I don’t remember,” “I don’t have a name,” etc. This illustrates either stupidity, ignorance, or bureaucratic ineptitude of a huge magnitude. In any case, none of these things are good. But, the statements may just be true and an insight into why no investigation will reveal any smoking gun directly implicating Obama or any other high government official. There will be no secretly recorded Oval Office conversations and no blockbuster John Dean-type testimony, no Deep Throat, no e-mails or memos- none of that stuff that would bring down an administration.
Instead, the goal right now is damage control. That is achieved three ways and is a classic reaction that usually occurs where a true fire exists. First, you make moves like asking for a resignation and making public statements about your shock at learning of these practices. This makes it appear as if you share the outrage over an outrageous action and you are doing something about it. Check! The second prong is to minimize the controversy. This was best exemplified by the daily talk show rounds by White House advisor David Pfeiffer recently. The final leg is to denigrate your accusers. Here, Obama has willing allies in the press such as the appropriately named New York Time op-ed writer, Charles Blow. On Saturday, he called Republican “obsession” with these scandals “pathological” and insisted that the IRS specifically targeting Tea Party groups amounted to a “demiscandal,” a term he created out of thin air- generally, a sign of schizophrenia.
To anyone who actually did their homework in 2007 as Obama was making his meteoric rise to messiah status, this spate of scandals should come as no surprise. It is best to recount how Obama rose to political power from a community organizer/sometimes “professor”/author. Basically the product of a cabal of rich liberals suffering from white guilt, that rise to power is a lesson in dirty, Chicago politics that uses whatever means is necessary to take down an opponent. Scandal, something Chicago is not averse to, had created a chain of political openings. US Representative Mel Reynolds was under indictment and the race was on succeed him in the House. State senator Alice Palmer initially expressed interest in the seat which would have left her state senate seat vacant. The chosen heir-apparent was a community organizer named Barack Obama who had made it onto the Democratic radar screen through his voter registration efforts. Palmer finished a distant third in the Democratic primary to eventual winner- Jesse Jackson, Jr. and decided to seek reelection to her state senate seat. There was one problem: Barack Obama wanted that seat. Palmer managed to get enough signatures on a petition to get on the ballot, but Obama challenged the petition of not only Palmer, but the other opponents. Several signatures on all the petitions were found to be invalid which should come as no surprise considering this was Chicago after all. Thus, Obama- through his supporters- eliminated all the opposition and he won the state senate seat.
Through most accounts, Obama was basically a do-nothing state senator until national office called. The seat being vacated by Peter Fitzgerald in the US Senate was up for grabs and Obama, through his liberal supporters, believed this a fine vehicle to move him into the national spotlight. Again, there was a wide open Democratic primary which Obama won in a race that wasn’t that close at the end. His opponent would be Jack Ryan, a successful businessman. In fact, Ryan figured to be a tough opponent for Obama. However, Obama’s media man was David Axelrod who had connections with the liberal Chicago media. The campaign placed pressure on the Chicago Tribune and the local ABC affiliate to have Ryan’s divorce records unsealed. Ryan had been married to actress Jeri Ryan and they agreed that the records be unsealed except as they applied to their child. Undeterred, the Chicago media prevailed upon a judge in LA to unseal more records. They revealed allegations made by his ex-wife that Ryan took her to clubs ostensibly to have public sex with her. It needs to be noted that the allegations were never proven and as Ryan’s opponents in the Republican primary correctly noted, a lot of allegations are made in divorce proceedings especially when money and child custody are involved. But, at this point it really did not matter- the damage was done. Of course, Obama rode in on his very high white horse and declared that the divorce records should not be an issue in the race. He could claim the high moral ground because he had already reaped the benefits of the aired dirty laundry. This is a trend that Obama continues to this day- allowing his surrogates to throw the bombs, cause damage, then he steps in claiming the high moral ground after he gains the benefit. It happened in the 2008 presidential Democratic primary campaign. Barack Obama himself never played the race card; there was no need since his surrogates were doing a fine job of it, especially against Hillary Clinton. With Ryan out of the picture and the illinois GOP in disarray, Obama breezed into the Senate.
This is the trend and the philosophy- the Chicago way- that Obama simply transplanted from Chicago’s South Side to Washington, DC. When he claimed he was going to change Washington, no one realized he was going to make into Chicago on the Potomac. Thus, it should come as no surprise today that a powerful government agency would simply pick up on this philosophy and target political opposition. As proof, the IRS claims that the targeting was in response to the influx of applications in the wake of the Citizens United decision. By 2010, the Tea Party was a growing conservative movement that represented a real threat to the liberal Obama agenda. Citizens United was decided in January 2010. What is often missed in the whole discussion of this case is that it was first argued in the previous term. It was a response by then Solicitor General Elena Kagan to questions that forced the Court to hear reargument in October 2009 (Kagan asserted the law could conceivably allow the government to, in effect, censor political speech). Regardless, analysis of tax exempt applications indicates that the number in 2010 was about the same as in 2009- pre-Citizens United. The policy of targeting began sometime in 2010. Thus, the assertion that the IRS was overburdened in 2010 holds no water.
Because of this attitude and Chicago way of doing business basically permeated throughout the administration, there is no wonder a policy targeting political opponents or perceived threats would develop somewhere. As Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) noted on the Sunday talk shows, the policy of real and implied intimidation by administration agencies is not limited to the IRS. He cited examples involving the FCC and SEC also. The National Review Online has a great article about a Tea Party activist in Texas being harassed by the FBI, OSHA, the ATF and the IRS. The dots were not connected back then, but in hindsight it is obvious what was happening.
The obvious take from this is that there will be no smoking gun found. How can one hold out an attitude as “the smoking gun” evidence? And this is what makes the Obama presidency so dangerous. There are enough Freudian slips to fill a small book when it comes to the Obama vision of America (the bitter clingers, spreading the wealth, “I am for redistribution,” the overheard Putin comment, the Constitution is a list of negative liberties etc.). That may be one thing and thankfully there is an obstructionist contingent in Congress to thwart his economic program. But what makes him particularly dangerous is his apparent disregard for constitutional rights. Perhaps the greatest right is free speech especially as it applies to political discourse. Not winning the battle of the minds and having minimal success at the ballot box, the next best thing is Plan B- silence the opposition through implied threat. This is particularly disgusting coming from a president who is portrayed as a constitutional scholar. To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson: “If the government fears the people, that is liberty. When the people fear government, that is tyranny.” Connecting all the dots, it looks like the Tea Party had it right all along.