Picking up from my nightmare post below, proceeding into the daylight of what’s come to light so far, I would say that…
…even a glance at the most reassuringly-framed wire-service newspaper stories about Friday’s hearing on the IRS scandal must leave one seriously appalled. And if one turns to conservative media, perhaps exploring the most telling moments of the hearing the way this clip by Jeff Davis does, via Powerline, I think it goes beyond being appalled into being a bit shaken.
Questions asked by tax agents about the contents of prayers? About the contents of books purchased? A screening applied to conservative groups exclusively? This happened in America? At the hands of scores upon scores of federal workers and at the direction of Obama appointees, and (to some extent) at the request of Democratic Senators?
I am not ready to join Mark Levin, the Tyranny v. Liberty guy, who is saying that this scandal shows that we have “entered an age of post-constitutional soft tyranny,” and that Obama’s is a “post-constitutional government.” That’s just obviously proven wrong every time Obama or his agencies abide by Supreme Court decisions contrary to their wishes, or every time Obama whines about not getting his agenda passed because Republicans control the House. I have said here that the present pattern of Democratic Party leadership, modeled by Obama especially, displays a scandalous unwillingness to forthrightly support the Constitution, but I do not regard their basic obedience of it nor even their “so-to-speak support” of it as counting for nothing. Levin unfortunately has a penchant for squandering his constitutional knowledge amid Chicken Little dramatics, which is bad, since we might need voices like his to convincingly cry “Wolf,” when and if the beast of open presidential Constitution-defiance really comes.
Similarly, I do not think it’s terribly useful to argue at this point about whether the IRS scandal is worse than Nixon’s Watergate, and thus the worst scandal in our entire history, as this Bookworm Room blog proposes. The argument there is even if Obama was not involved, this is a massive aggression of the government upon ordinary citizens, whereas other scandals usually victimized other politicians. I don’t buy it, but the guy has a point. I.e., in a somewhat different key, this is arguably as destructive of American citizens’ trust of their government as Watergate was.
Ken Masugi and our Kate (scroll below) do have it right that this is ultimately much more about the corruption of the IRS, a corruption arguably inherent to the “administrative state,” than it is about Obama. But that means that, even if clear evidence walling him off from the key decisions to screen conservative groups emerges, this scandal will continue to be HUGE.
Hugh Hewitt gets the true horror of these hearings just right in a couple of posts:
Some employees within the IRS –and it sounds like a lot of employees– have simply been out of control, and in ways that will chill and disgust most Americans. It is as though the IRS hired exclusively from MoveOn, Kos, the ACLU and Planned Parenthood.
…Care must be taken not to damage the reputation and careers of the fair and the honest within the agency, but the “tip of the iceberg” analogy is completely accurate.
And who was it who appointed these many bad apples? By and large, we know will find, by Democratic leaders, or administrators appointed by them. In terms of poor hiring and oversight decisions, it will all trace up to Obama. And yes, moderates so-called, and decency-respecting liberals so-claimed, it traces even more clearly back down to YOU. Have you not noticed something not quite right with the Democratic leadership of late? Which increasingly sets the tone for our federal government in general? Hugh has:
I have spent 23 years representing clients before various federal agencies, and the vast majority of federal officials I have dealt with have been just like those I worked with during my time as a general counsel in two federal agencies, and as a staff lawyer the White House Counsel’s office and DOJ –superb public servants of the highest ethics and significant competence.
I continue that law practice before an alphabet soup of agencies, as do my partners, but things have changed, and they have changed at every level of the federal government. Indifference combined with arrogance and sometimes pure spite used to be very, very rare, but increasingly it seeps out of almost every agency, and the very good employees struggle to undo the work of the worst.
I’m pleading with you to face it, Democratic voter: this is your doing. It’s different this time. You bungled things, albeit in an understandable way, in 2008, but alas, last November you willfully abdicated your responsibility to discipline your party(and your media) when it had clearly gone off the rails. Clearly evinced tendencies toward corruption. You voted for people that you knew bended the truth too much and who demonized conservatives too much. So these IRS petty tyrants are your babies. The leaders you chose chose them, and the leadership patterns you tolerated, in the name of progressivism I guess, gave them the green light. Every time you laughed at a “T-bagger joke,” you were preparing the way.
What is more, this is one more sign that you are backing your fellow Americans into a corner. Your media outlets slander the tea-partiers with unfounded racism accusations, and you say nothing in protest? The IRS persecutes them with audits? The IRS higher-ups, doubtless with Obama’s and the some media-higher-ups knowledge, deliberately delay admission (and cessation!) of this until after the election, which means that there is a fairly plausible argument that they stole it? I don’t know what your fellow citizens will do. I feel in my own heart a desire for something dramatic, but I fear how this desire will play out in others.
One thing, to whatever extent the implementation of Obamacare depends upon an IRS role, you can now predict that this will be resisted by almost all Republicans to the hilt.
Another thing, to whatever extent Republicans were too reflexively anti-government before this, we can predict they will only become more so, and we cannot reliably predict they will lose elections for doing so anytime soon. Because this scandal is far from over–rather, it looks as if we are going to hear about one horror story after another.
And God only knows what calls we are going to hear for a tax strike next year.
So, the Republic quakes a bit today.
What say you? Am I too alarmist? Or, not enough?