President Barack Obama said Thursday that he was “outraged” by the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of conservative organizations.
Steven Miller, who lost his job as IRS acting commissioner Wednesday after the president demanded his resignation, merely called those actions “foolish mistakes” during his testimony Friday before a House committee.
But it would have been an outrageously foolish mistake to believe the IRS’ initial explanation — on May 10 —for this abuse of power last week. At that point, the agency blamed it on “low level” workers.
Sure enough, that IRS account had to be revised to match facts from a Treasury Department inspector general’s report.
It also would be foolish to accept this assurance that Mr. Miller gave the House panel Friday:
“I do not believe that partisanship motivated the people that engaged in the practices described in the inspector general’s report.”
Mr. Miller, who was scheduled to step down next month anyway, did apologize for those practices Friday.
However, he also objected to lawmakers’ use of the word “targeting,” calling it a “pejorative term.”
So if “partisanship” didn’t drive the IRS’ “targeting” of conservative groups, or whatever you call the agency’s admitted singling out of them, what did?
Another pressing question: Why didn’t the president, according to his version of events, learn of this IRS abuse, which had been going on for at least one and more likely two years, until he heard about it nine days ago from “news reports”?
Wasn’t he aware of numerous news reports chronicling tea party groups’ complaints that the IRS was unfairly going after them?
Why didn’t the president learn of this abuse when high-ranking IRS and Treasury officials were informed of it one year ago?
Why didn’t he learn of it when his White House counsel was informed of it on April 22?
And why shouldn’t any reasonable person suspect that this administration’s consistent condemnations of the Tea Party might have something to do with the decision to target — yes, that is the right word — that conservative movement?
Lisa Myers reported Friday on NBC, hardly an anti-Obama stronghold, that the IRS intentionally chose not to disclose that it had wrongly targeted conservative groups until after the 2012 presidential election.
As Ms. Myers put it: “Imagine ... what would have happened if this fact came out in September 2012, in the middle of a presidential election? The terrain would have looked very different.”
Yet the terrain looked sadly familiar Thursday when ABC reported that Sarah Hall Ingram, who was “in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups,” is now in charge of “the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.”
In other words, the woman who either knew — or absolutely should have known — about the IRS practice that has “outraged” President Obama is now running the tax side of Obamacare.
Does that sound like simply another “foolish mistake”?