We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate.Um, no we are not. It's not even a scandal. It's a controversy. And, by the way, Benghazi isn't even that. But don't worry. That won't stop Republicans from overreaching.
“The second part of the scandal is the auditing of political activists who have opposed the administration,” the Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan wrote on Thursday, describing the I.R.S.’s actions as the “worst Washington scandal since Watergate.”She cites four conservatives who were audited. Four cases out of 1.5 million. Please. This is "anything for a scandal" garbage and should be treated as such.
What evidence does Ms. Noonan present for this second allegation?
NY Times (news section, mind you):
Republican charges range from the clearly questionable to the seemingly specious, and they grow by the day. On Friday, lawmakers sought to tie the I.R.S. matter to the carrying out of President Obama’s health care law, which will rely heavily on the agency. Whether they succeed holds significant ramifications for Mr. Obama, who will soon know if he is dealing with a late spring thunderstorm that may soon blow over or a consuming squall that will leave lasting damage.Watch over the next few weeks as Republican glee turns to frustration as the voters decidedly ignore the trumped-up charges.
More politics and policy below the fold.
House negotiators announced yesterday that they’d reached a bipartisan agreement on an immigration bill. But as Ed Kilgore colorfully points out today, there’s not really any actual deal. Instead, on key items such as guest workers and health care, they’ve agreed to disagree for now — which sort of undermines the point of a unified bipartisan framework for a bill.Matthew Dallek:
No surprise; the House has shown zero ability to legislate over the last three years. ...
What all this comes down to, really, is that the prospects for reform passing turn on one thing: whether the bulk of the mainstream conservatives in the Republican conference privately want something to pass or not.
“Do these people not remember the Nixon administration?” asked NBC’s senior investigative correspondent, Lisa Myers. “I’ve never seen anything quite like this, except in the past during the Nixon years,” said Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah). And BuzzFeed’s Ben Smith captured the moment with his post featuring Obama’s and Nixon’s faces morphing into one another in an endless loop of guilt by association.Lisa, who cares? The idea is throw everything against the wall, damn the facts.
The White House deserves some of the blame for the mess it’s in, but let’s be clear: The comparisons to Nixon are hyperbolic. Watergate, with its unique depth of criminality, remains a scandal unlike any other in modern times, and the echoes today reveal far more about the culture of Washington than about the supposed similarity between Obama’s troubles and Nixon’s crimes.
But, so far, the Congressional hearings of outrage have been even less sympathetic. Perhaps you didn’t have time to spend much of your Friday watching the House Ways and Means Committee grill Steven Miller, the newly axed I.R.S. head, about the agency’s targeting of groups with names like “Tea Party” for unwelcome in-depth attention.Um, yeah.
Let me summarize:Committee Chairman Dave Camp: Thank you all for coming here today. Our topic is abuses in the Internal Revenue Service, an entity that I believe is about the size of China, with long, spiky tentacles that reach out and squash all the hopes and dreams of the American people. My first question, Mr. Miller, is whether your agency is so enormous and evil that it will one day destroy the nation as we know it, or whether it already has, and this committee is actually just sitting on the scattered shards and rubble of what once was a great republic.
Added Charles Blow for a succinct summing up:
Whether one thinks the demiscandals being howled about in Washington should or should not resonate more widely, they don’t.