The most laughable spin yet poured out of the Administration today, in the wake of revelations that the top White House lawyer knew about the incoming IRS scandal nearly a month ago. From the Wall Street Journal:
In the week of April 22, the Office of the White House Counsel and its head, Kathryn Ruemmler, were told by Treasury Department attorneys that an inspector general’s report was nearing completion, the White House official said. In that conversation, Ms. Ruemmler learned that “a small number of line IRS employees had improperly scrutinized certain…organizations by using words like ‘tea party’ and ‘patriot,’ ” the official said.
President Barack Obama said last week he learned about the controversy at the same time as the public, on May 10, when an IRS official revealed it to a conference of lawyers. The president’s statement drew criticism, focusing attention on his management style and whether he has kept himself sufficiently informed about the agencies under his authority.
Others, including veterans of previous scandals, said the counsel—whose role is to advise the president on all legal matters concerning his job and the White House—was right to avoid telling Mr. Obama about the audit’s early findings. Doing so could have caused a new storm by creating the appearance of meddling in an independent investigation that hadn’t yet concluded, former officials said.
Whoever these “others” are, they’re hilarious. This would be the same President who swooped in to save Attorney General Eric Holder from the Fast and Furious investigation with a timely claim of executive privilege, right?
Anyone who understood the mega-tonnage of that IG report could see that informing the President was far more sensible, and useful to the nation, than making him look like a fool. It doesn’t seem to have occurred to Obama’s defenders that they’re once again putting his personal political viability above the needs of the country. What kind of “leader” is more concerned about avoiding “the appearance of meddling” than dealing with a shocking abuse of power, and coming to the aid of its victims? Sorry, IRS victims, you’re on your own; the White House has Obama’s image to consider.
By the time these revelations boiled into the White House press room, spokesman Jay Carney was reduced to claiming the entire White House senior staff knew about the IRS scandal, but they deliberately kept the President in the dark, leaving him to learn about it by reading the newspapers last Friday:
Give credit where it’s due: you don’t normally see absurdity pushed this hard with a straight face by anyone who isn’t dressed like a clown and threatening Batman.
There are dark suspicions Obama knew what was going on at the IRS much longer than a month ago. According to Jeffrey Lord at the American Spectator, it might have been as long ago as March 2010:
According to the White House Visitors Log, provided here in searchable form by U.S. News and World Report, the president of the anti-Tea Party National Treasury Employees Union, Colleen Kelley, visited the White House at 12:30pm that Wednesday noon time of March 31st.
The White House lists the IRS union leader’s visit this way:
Kelley, Colleen Potus 03/31/2010 12:30
In White House language, “POTUS” stands for “President of the United States.”
The very next day after her White House meeting with the President, according to the Treasury Department’s Inspector General’s Report, IRS employees — the same employees who belong to the NTEU — set to work in earnest targeting the Tea Party and conservative groups around America. The IG report wrote it up this way:
April 1-2, 2010: The new Acting Manager, Technical Unit, suggested the need for a Sensitive Case Report on the Tea Party cases. The Determinations Unit Program Manager Agreed.
In short: the very day after the president of the quite publicly anti-Tea Party labor union — the union for IRS employees — met with President Obama, the manager of the IRS “Determinations Unit Program agreed” to open a “Sensitive Case report on the Tea party cases.” As stated by the IG report.
It’s all circumstantial, of course. There’s a lot of circumstance at the White House these days. It’s apparently a renewable resource.
Let’s be charitable and assume the President wasn’t directly involved in launching this outrage, back in 2010. Let’s further grant, for the sake of argument, that the rest of the Administration was as clueless as the IRS hierarchy claims to be… until late last month. With weeks of advance notice, the White House couldn’t come up with a better response than what we’ve seen so far? They couldn’t shake some of these bureaucrats by the lapels and get some facts out of them? It’s chilling to think that President Obama’s “I learned about it from the news, like everybody else” routine is the best they could come up with. It’s insulting that they were so confident the American public would swallow it. This is the final, ridiculous stage of the effort to separate Obama from the actions of his Administration, maintaining his personal popularity at the expense of our national political sanity.