This Is No Ordinary Scandal

Photo Credit: APPolitical abuse of the IRS threatens the basic integrity of our government.

By Peggy Noonan. We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate. The reputation of the Obama White House has, among conservatives, gone from sketchy to sinister, and, among liberals, from unsatisfying to dangerous. No one likes what they’re seeing. The Justice Department assault on the Associated Press and the ugly politicization of the Internal Revenue Service have left the administration’s credibility deeply, probably irretrievably damaged. They don’t look jerky now, they look dirty. The patina of high-mindedness the president enjoyed is gone.

Something big has shifted. The standing of the administration has changed. As always it comes down to trust. Do you trust the president’s answers when he’s pressed on an uncomfortable story? Do you trust his people to be sober and fair-minded as they go about their work? Do you trust the IRS and the Justice Department? You do not.

The president, as usual, acts as if all of this is totally unconnected to him. He’s shocked, it’s unacceptable, he’ll get to the bottom of it. He read about it in the papers, just like you.

But he is not unconnected, he is not a bystander. This is his administration. Those are his executive agencies. He runs the IRS and the Justice Department.

A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town. Read more from this story HERE.

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President Asterisk: Why the Obama IRS scandal may be worse than “a cancer on the presidency.”

By James Taranto. No one can deny that Barack Obama is a highly skilled politician, at least by the measure of election outcomes. His record is undefeated, save for an ill-advised 2000 primary challenge to an entrenched incumbent congressman. His 2008 presidential victory, after a fraction of a term in the U.S. Senate, was especially dazzling. It disproved those who said that Hillary Clinton was invincible, that a left-wing Democrat couldn’t win, and that America wasn’t ready for a black president.

No one can deny that Lance Armstrong and Mark McGwire were highly skilled athletes. But their accomplishments are forever tainted by their use of banned performance-enhancing drugs. The use of the Internal Revenue Service’s coercive power to suppress dissent against Obama is the political equivalent of steroids. The history books should record Obama’s re-election with an asterisk to indicate that it was achieved with the help of illicit means.

The Weekly Standard notes that NBC’s Lisa Myers “reported this morning that the IRS deliberately chose not to reveal that it had wrongly targeted conservative groups until after the 2012 presidential election”:

The IRS commissioner “has known for at least a year that this was going on,” said Myers, “and that this had happened. And did he share any of that information with the White House? But even more importantly, Congress is going to ask him, why did you mislead us for an entire year? Members of Congress were saying conservatives are being targeted. What’s going on here? The IRS denied it. Then when–after these officials are briefed by the [inspector general] that this is going on, they don’t disclose it. In fact, the commissioner sent a letter to Congress in September on this subject and did not reveal this. Imagine if we–if you can–what would have happened if this fact came out in September 2012, in the middle of a presidential election? The terrain would have looked very different.”

Read more from this story HERE.