Peggy Noonan discusses the mellowed media response compared to 41 years ago in A Tale of Two Scandals. Someone once said “the lowest form of punditry” is to point out “what if a republican did that?” So… how about when a republican once did that? (Less than that, actually.)
But the IRS scandal is a scandal, and if you can’t see the relation between a strangely destroyed key piece of evidence in an ongoing scandal and what happened 41 years ago with a strangely destroyed key piece of evidence in an ongoing scandal, something is wrong not with the story but with your news judgment. (We won’t even go into the second story last week, that the IRS sent a big database full of confidential taxpayer information to the FBI.)
It would be very good to see the mainstream press call for a special prosecutor, fully armed with the powers to get to the bottom of the case…
The mischief of the Nixon administration was specific to it, to its personnel. When Chuck Colson left, he left. All the figures in that drama failed to permanently disfigure the edifice of government. They got caught, and their particular brand of mischief ended.
But the IRS scandal is different, because if it isn’t stopped—if it isn’t fully uncovered, exposed, and its instigators held accountable—it will suggest an acceptance of the politicization of the IRS, and an expected and assumed partisanship within its future actions. That will be terrible not only for citizens but for the government itself.
And the IRS scandal will also have disfigured government in a new and killing way. IRS scandals in the past were about the powerful (Richard Nixon) abusing the powerful (Edward Bennett Williams). This scandal is about the powerful (Lois Lerner, et a.) abusing the not-powerful (normal, on-the-ground Americans such as rural tea-party groups). If it comes to be understood that this kind of thing is how the government now does business, it will be terrible for the spirit and reality of the country.
So many of those who decide what is news cannot, on this issue, see the good faith and honest concern of the many who make this warning. And really, that is tragic.
David French gives it to us with the bark on:
The scale of the wrongdoing is staggering. Targeting Americans for criminal investigation without evidence, attempting to enlist multiple federal agencies in the effort, selective audits, selective disclosures of confidential documents, selective questioning and delays of nonprofit applicants — all in the service of suppressing dissent.
Chicago’s lovely political culture, gone national.