Issues

Ellison’s Must Read of the Day

Ellison must read

My must read of the day is "At the IRS, Stuff Happens," by Rich Lowry, in Politico:

Even if the original destruction of Lerner’s correspondence was an innocent coincidence, all of this reeks of bad faith and is itself scandalous. We aren’t talking about getting to the bottom of wrongdoing at the U.S. Board on Geographic Names or the Office of Small and Disadvantaged Business Utilization. This is the IRS, the most intrusive and demanding agency of the federal government that will destroy you unless you deal with it honestly and make your life an open book on its say-so. Yet it can’t straightforwardly cooperate with an investigation into misconduct that—once upon a time—outraged even the president of the United States.

As time has passed, President Obama has grown much mellower about this little unpleasantness at the IRS. He could order the White House and every other agency of government to undertake a search for emails received by Lois Lerner tomorrow. He could order the director of the FBI to undertake a forensic review of what happened to them. Instead, he is clearly hoping that the IRS scandal becomes another Benghazi, a watchword in the press for an irrational inability of Republicans to "move on."

Earlier this morning the panel of "Morning Joe" took up this piece and focused on the public perception of the situation.

"This has not caught with the American public," said commentator Donny Deutsch. "The media coverage is there. The American public is just not biting … this is really quite scandalous in it's feel and touch. Yet, for some reason, it is not infiltrating the country."

The discussion continued on that point, with some arguing that it's the result of exhaustion with the failings of Washington.

To some degree, Deutsch was correct—it does not appear that the public, at large, is overly concerned with this case. But I can't consider this an absolute because that assumption is largely based on the narrative we receive from the media, and despite what Deutsch said, the media coverage has not been strong throughout this sandal—a point which was acknowledged by the public editor at the New York Times.

A Fox News poll found that seventy-six percent of the public believe Lerner’s emails were deliberately destroyed, but that doesn't mean it's keeping everyone up at night.

But I find the strangest instance of apathy to be amongst the Democratic lawmakers.

If the targeting did not go beyond Lois Lerner and was not orchestrated or influenced by anyone outside of the agency, which right now there is no evidence to suggest it was, why isn't this something Democrats want to investigate and strongly rebuff?

The IRS was very clearly in the wrong, they broke laws in the initial targeting and in the way they maintained records, and they have not cooperated with the investigations. Yet Democrats, from Rep. Lloyd Doggett (D., Texas) to Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (R., Calif.), seem to prefer to side with that agency, and it's an agency everyone already hates. That's an odd decision to say the least, and it should be focused on more intently because their reaction has an impact on public perception. If they ignore this and make it out to be a joke, sections of the public will look away as well. Giving the IRS any kind of a pass for this behavior is a great disservice to the American public now, and in the future.