Syndicated radio talk show host Tom Sullivan thinks the current IRS controversy over alleged targeting of primarily conservative groups is maybe the biggest scandal ever. He likens it to Watergate.
A little early to tell, but I doubt it. Sullivan does point out that it took a year or more for the Watergate scandal to take off.
Probably by the time this one got anywhere President Obama will be out of office, having served two full terms.
There is a striking similarity in the two scandals. President Richard Nixon attempted to use the power of the IRS go after his political enemies, but the IRS balked at that (actually I had not realized the IRS did not cooperate before refreshing myself on the facts as they are known). In the current scandal is appears the IRS actually did go after conservative groups, and to be fair, even some progressive or liberal groups, but seemed to zero in more on the conservative groups. It involved tax-exempt status.
In the Watergate scandal there were the infamous, and most convenient, missing tapes from the oval office. In the current IRS case there are the missing e-mails and the mysterious and too coincidental “crashing” of computer hard drives, destroying or obstructing possible evidence of possible IRS wrongdoing. The IRS of course is not supposed to carry out its tax-collecting work based on politics.
If it could be proved that the IRS did go after people based on their opposition to the current administration, and furthermore if it were shown this was directed or even known about from on high (the oval office), then surely this would have the potential of being one of the biggest scandals ever.
Sullivan and others seem to think a too-friendly-to-the-White House media is ignoring the story for the most part. Well there is no such thing, especially these days with the internet, as one solid group called the media that supposedly controls the message. But I do notice it is not getting as much play as one might suppose in what is still called the mainstream press. But again, Watergate took quite awhile to get anywhere. But Nixon had another term to deal with. He ended up resigning the presidency after a landslide win against one of the weakest characters, in terms of politics and leadership potential, ever to run for president — George McGovern. But Obama is already in his second and by law final term.
In the case of Nixon, we probably knew then and certainly know now that much of the Watergate evidence has been made fully public, that he had an evil, vindictive personality that made him quite capable of employing every trick in the book (Tricky Dick they called him) against his opponents. With Obama, we really don’t have that background on him. It seems unlikely that he would have personally directed a campaign by the IRS against political enemies (did he know about it?).
Sullivan claimed that former IRS official Lois Lerner bragged about going after conservative groups, at least that was the message I got from the way he described it. But in the story I just now looked up in the Washington Post, it seems that Lerner did admit the targeting did take place but in typical bureaucratic ambiguity she claimed there was no partisan effort there — it was just that they were flooded with applications from advocacy groups for tax-exempt status and needed a way of sorting them out. Whatever.
So was it rogue agents in the IRS or a plot by the administration?
Certainly this has the potential for biggest ever scandal but somehow I think events will push it aside.
Obama is now faced with the legacy of the president who lost Iraq after nearly 5,000 U.S. soldiers gave their lives in the effort (started by George W. Bush and then given up by Obama, but really a no-win situation from the beginning).