May 14, 2013 Leave a comment
Last Friday the Obama administration made one of the few tactical political errors they’ve made. They had an IRS executive causally acknowledge that the tax agency targeted conservative groups with terms like Tea Party and patriot in their names for additional scrutiny. The IRS also targeted Jewish groups and shifted their targeting terms so as to capture as many conservative groups as possible. The Obama administration has successfully shifted focus away from Benghazi but the IRS scandal isn’t quite as controlled as they expected. Information continues to leak out, including that top officials at the IRS knew about the targeting of conservative groups in 2010. One finds it difficult to believe an Inspectors General report with that sort of information didn’t make it to the White House.
In 1974 Article 2 of the proposed articles of impeachment against President Nixon focused on his abuses within the IRS. We are nowhere near that level with Obama yet, largely because we don’t know how deep Obama is personally into all of this. The information trickling out isn’t just that the IRS targeted conservative groups for additional scrutiny. The IRS also may have been involved in the leaking of information concerning donations made by Mitt Romney’s PAC. Last year Romney donor Frank VanderSloot was attacked by Obama’s campaign as a “wealthy individual with a less than reputable record.” He was then subjected to two IRS audits. So the question now is two fold. First, did the IRS provide VanderSloot’s tax information to the Obama campaign? Second, did the IRS respond to the Obama campaign’s accusation in deciding to audit VanderSloot or in the alternative did the administration order up an audit?
Team Obama didn’t think the IRS announcement would legitimize complaints made nearly a year ago about the IRS and its use of private tax information for the benefit of the President. Now that the agency has admitted to targeting conservatives, even the media is taking seriously the claims of conservatives which were summarily dismissed just a few weeks ago. That David Plouffe seems to be justifying the IRS actions certainly isn’t helping Obama’s case. We’ve know for a long time that Obama views Republicans as “the enemy.” Is it possible he really has an enemies list and uses the IRS to attack them?
Obama has, not surprisingly, called the IRS scandal “outrageous” and “concerning.” Nixon also claimed he wasn’t a crook, so Presidential shows of outrage over scandal isn’t exactly meaningful. Bringing this back to what really matters, Benghazi, Obama called the investigation a “sideshow.” In this we can see what the administration intended to do with the IRS scandal. Obama got to moralize and show indignation over the IRS scandal while dismissing out of hand the more important and more damning Benghazi scandal. We can see in his comments Monday what the administration really wanted to do with these two issues. The IRS is an outrage but don’t pay attention to that Republican sideshow in Benghazi. When a President plays that card, it’s usually time to pay attention to the sideshow.
The IRS scandal has snowballed out of control for the administration, which will result in the opposite of its intended effect. In Benghazi the administration is relying on the State Department investigation of Thomas Pickering. Pickering never bothered to depose Hillary Clinton or any of her immediate underlings. He claims he already determined she wasn’t involved, which is of course complete nonsense if one listens to Gregory Hicks testimony. The Pickering investigation is a sham, everyone knows it. Yet Obama relies on it. Because the public is outraged over the IRS scandal and because it’s likely few believe the administration wasn’t somehow involved people are going to be more likely to believe the worst about Benghazi.
This is the miscalculation of Obama’s political team. They really thought the IRS scandal would give Obama the opportunity to stamp his feet in moral indignation while Republicans shifted focus from Benghazi to the IRS. Obama still has an amount of cover over at the IRS. What the politicos didn’t anticipate was a whole host of additional IRS charges, including leaks of financial information by the IRS and politically motivated audits, making its way into the mainstream press. They were slow to react, waiting until Monday for Obama to say anything. That would have been fine but for the snowball effect but once things got out of control Team Obama didn’t respond quickly enough. Now because people believe the administration is up to no good via the IRS, people are more willing to believe the worst about Benghazi.
We know Benghazi goes all the way to the top as we know Obama was involved in the decision making. We obviously don’t know if Obama or any of his White House staff were involved in the IRS scandal. Presumably investigations will take place and we’ll find something out eventually. The question isn’t so much whether there’s an impeachable offense here, there isn’t right now. Incompetence yes but incompetence isn’t impeachable. The question is at what point do the Democrats cut and run from Obama? He’s a lame duck with no political future. If things begin to get out of control scandal wise look for Democrats to distance themselves. They will cut and run to save their own careers before sticking their neck out for a lame duck Obama. Right now, Obama risks losing the country on both of these issues because folks don’t buy that the IRS targeting wasn’t political in nature. Because they question the IRS scandal, they’re going to question Benghazi as well. Team Obama is in full on crisis mode and they should be.