Second-term agenda? What second-term agenda? At this point, Barack Obama has far more pressing issues at stake: The credibility of this administration, and quite frankly the integrity of our government as a whole.
As blatantly outrageous as the IRS targeting conservatives may be, it's infuriating to know that the person investigating such egregious violations (Eric Holder) is equally as corrupt and himself involved in a current scandal – the secret seizure of AP phone records. Add that to the list of other scandals we've seen involving Obama's Department of Justice, including Fast and Furious which led to the death of American Boarder Patrol agent Brian Terry. In other words, how can we trust that we will even get to the actual truth of the matter on any of these issues? Holder has zero credibility, so why should he be trusted with this investigation? The scary answer is that we no longer feel we can. That is a crisis.
This morning, House Speaker John Boehner made headlines. On the issue of the IRS, Boehner says, "My question isn't about who's going to resign, my question is, who is going to jail?” That's a very bold statement, with which I would agree. The IG released its report to the public late last night. You can read it here. The fact is that the more we learn of the intrusive nature of these questions, the more outrageous the story becomes. The latest includes requests for Tea Party education groups to turn over the names of high school and college students it had spoken to. Really? Yes, really. Requests for Facebook posts were made, as well as reading material. When one group was asked to provide reading material associated with the group, the group sent the IRS a copy of the Constitution. Ha! And now we know that these Tea Party groups were held up for months, in many cases over a year. Meanwhile, liberals and progressive groups managed to achieve their tax-exempt status in reasonable amount of time (by government standards).
If you missed White House propagandist Jay Carney's press briefing yesterday, you missed quite a spectacle. This is for two reasons. Number one is the fact that actual, real reporters managed to finally show up and ask tough questions. It's about time! Perhaps too little too late, in my opinion, but it was refreshing to finally see these people asking tough questions of this administration. Unfortunately for Jay Carey, he just couldn't stand the heat. It was embarrassing. This whole controversy over his use of the word “if” related to the IRS story; There is no “if” Jay. The IRS already apologized for something we already know to be true, based on a report which had already been sent to the White House but the president apparently had yet to see. Are you starting to notice this pattern, by the way? I am seriously starting to wonder how this White House is run, if the President of the United States is unaware of so many crucial things happening within his own administration. Are we to believe that to be true or are they simply lying? Which is worse – Incompetence or untruthfulness? Take your pick, but either way the American people lose. If we are to believe former Obama advisor David Axelrod, the excuse is simply that government is “so vast” that Obama could not possibly be aware of all the wrongdoing taking place within his administration. That doesn't speak too highly of the size of our government.
Anyway, since that press briefing, the IG released its report and the president had time to review it an issue a statement. The findings are “intolerable and inexcusable,” according to the president. Then he then directs Jack Lew to hold those responsible accountable.
Meanwhile, a bipartisan group in Congress' House Ways and Means committee is demanding that all communications between the White House and the IRS be turned over related to the targeting of conservatives. In other words, members of Congress want to know if the White House had any involvement in targeting these groups, and if so, what was the nature of their involvement. That could be monumentally scathing. The committee also wants to know why the IRS commissioner did not reveal information about the targeting of conservatives to the committee, after testifying that he was unaware of any targeting in March 2012. However, keep in mind that Democrats in the Senate – Carl Levin, Max Baucus, and others – pressured then-IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman to investigate these groups dating back as far as 2010. So Congress' potential role cannot escape scrutiny as well.
And we haven't even gotten to Benghazi, where even former Obama advisor David Axelrod is sounding like John Boehner in saying that the Obama administration needs to come forward with emails related to Benghazi and the controversial talking points. The fact that reporters haven't been able to make copies of those emails, but merely view them and then report on them has allowed this administration to then accuse some reporters of “doctoring” the emails. The administration just needs to be truthful and honest and simply release the emails and put all the games and controversy to rest. When David Axelrod is even saying that, you know it's bad.
You know what's also bad? When you have NBC News comparing Barack Obama to Richard Nixon.
Let me be clear about something. The priority at this point for everyone in Washington, including Republicans, should be finding the truth on these various scandals and finding the appropriate punishment for any wrongdoing that is discovered. But if there are any long-term policy implications that stem from all this, the Republicans need to focus if they want to be effective. There is a lot happening right now, and as per usual, their messages are all bungled. This morning in their press briefing we heard jobs, economy, Keystone Pipeline, ObamaCare. This is all well-and-good, but I think they should focus their energies on one thing: ObamaCare. What we have right now is a crisis of confidence in our system of government. As if people didn't trust big government before, now they REALLY have reason to maintain that distrust. Unfortunately for Democrats, much of their policies rely on big government. For example, ObamaCare is about as “big government” and “big brother” as you can get and it relies an agency which is now seriously suffering from a crisis of confidence: the IRS. Efforts to repeal ObamaCare should be propelled forward as a united front, because the American people have finally had enough with a government that is too big, too intrusive, and cannot be trusted … especially with your life and your health on the line.