The Conversation

Another tip of Obama's cards on the IRS scandal

In response to I'm Sure the Media Will Soon be Cautioning the Democrats About "Overreaching" in their Defense of the IRS:

"The Jack of Guilty and the Ace of Watergate..."  Beautifully put.  And if Obama didn't think he was looking at some pretty lousy cards, he wouldn't have tossed out a couple of jokers like Axelrod and Plouffe to chant the exact same defense in unison on the Sunday shows. 

Using the IRS to go after Obama's political opponents would be "the stupidest thing you could have imagined," exclaimed Axelrod (or was it Plouffe?)  It would be "the dumbest political effort of all time," said Plouffarod (or was it Axelplouffe?) on another show.

There are several problems with this Obama busted flush.  For one thing, it's never particularly inspiring to see a President's hatchet men running around and claiming their boss is too smart to pull stupid scam.  I notice there is absolutely no effort to claim that Barack Obama simply has too much character to do something like this, fully respects his opponents as upstanding Americans with every right to join the political process, and feels deep sympathy for their plight.  None of these persecuted groups seems to have gotten that Sandra Fluke "Are you okay?" call from our compassionate, loving President.  When he bothers to pretend he cares about the IRS scandal at all, Obama treats it exactly the way Acting Commish Miller described it: an unfortunate failure of customer service, which the agency should try to avoid in the future.

That's easy to say once the election is over, which is  all the skeptic needs to destroy Plaxelrouffe's argument that Democrats wouldn't be dumb enough to do something this blatant.  This is the party of ACORN, the party of Chicago.  They know damn well that once you win a national election, everything that follows is just sound, fury, and maybe a key subordinate thrown under the bus.  What matters is that Obama won, and Democrats are supremely confident the media will never allow the accumulation of public outrage that would force a President of their party out of office.  Anything less than that is, by definition, better for Obama than being out of office.  Losing even 80 or 90 percent of your political capital due to scandal is better than forfeiting 100 percent of it by losing the election.  And if there's one thing we know about Obama's psychology, it's his belief in his own charisma and messianic power.  He doesn't seriously believe that any scandal would cost him 80 percent of his influence, not permanently.  

Given what we've learned about the Administration's secret email network, they would also have every reason to believe that coordination for the IRS operation could be kept under wraps.

Axelrod and Plouffe are the kind of gutter fighters that would propose exactly what's happening right now as a defense in case the IRS goons got caught in the act.  "We'll demonize the Tea Party, send out a cretin like Jim McDermott to rally our nutroots faithful by defiantly insisting the wingnuts got what they had coming.  We'll blame Bush, we'll muddy the waters by claiming it happens to liberals too.  A couple of weeks into the scandal, we'll tell our media operatives to simultaneously wonder, on every single frigging network, if the Republicans are 'overreaching' by hitting the story too hard; a few weeks after that, we'll instruct the media to declare the whole thing 'old news' that happened 'a long time ago' and really, 'what difference, at this point, does it make?'  Then we'll declare the Republicans are scandal-mongering to thwart our noble job-creating agenda, and if that doesn't put the whole thing to bed, we'll start muttering that only racist sore losers would accuse the First! Black! President! of election fraud."

Also, the Democrats have a well-worn playbook for keeping their long-running vote fraud operations alive.  Obama and his minions know it by heart.  They always demand exacting, scientific, five-decimal-place proof that any given ballot-box hijinks affected the election.  If an exact number of stolen votes, sufficient to actually change the outcome, cannot be isolated with forensic precision, then all talk of voter fraud is dismissed.  And of course, such a standard of proof can never be met.  The IRS caper was the largest voter suppression operation since the civil rights era, and it was extremely effective - many of the victims have testified they threw in the towel.  But since no one will ever be able to tabulate an exact number of votes suppressed, or prove it was enough to give Romney the election, Team Obama will never allow it to be presented to the American public in those terms.  

Just imagine if this was a Republican scandal, and a Republican Administration - plus several prominent GOP congressional representatives - had pointed the IRS at minority and environmental groups, driving some of them out of politics in an election the Democrat lost largely because his voters didn't turn out.  We'd be looking at the cultural and political equivalent of nuclear winter right now.  There certainly wouldn't be any genteel media deference to the President's innocence, no inherent presumption that a Republican chief executive couldn't possibly be involved in something like this.

So no, there's no reason to judge that Obama and the Democrats would be stupid to try a crazy stunt like this.  On the contrary, they have every reason to believe they could get away with it - every reason to think the price paid after Obama's re-election was secured would be affordable.  (And if Obama had lost the election anyway, they know damn well the media would never allow a victorious Romney Administration to go after them.  The cries of "overreach" would have been mixed with accusations of petty vindictiveness.)

There's also one last face card for Obama to play, and I suspect he's saving it for the right moment: Eric Holder's resignation.  Holder's got some role in all of these scandals.  Obama would try to bury them all along with Holder.  The media would instruct Republicans to be satisfied with such a high-level scalp; they would be portrayed as berserk if they kept pushing after Holder, and probably a couple of IRS officials, were gone.  They would be expected to accept that a new Attorney General would bring a fresh start, plus automatic respectability, to any subsequent long, slow investigations.  Obama really doesn't want to lose Holder, but if he does consider it, he'll wait until the moment when the greatest amount of scandal radiation can be absorbed by the departing Attorney General.  And, of course, his followers will be whipped into a lather of hatred against the Republican thugs who destroyed this noble civil-rights hero.


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