My first job was at the A&W in Merced. I was the executive vice president in charge of french fries and drinks. Eventually I was promoted to Assistant Chief of the Burger Flipper Division.
What was your first job?
One of the common threads in the various White House scandals in the news lately has been the efforts made to keep them secret until after last year’s election. This has led many people to ask an obvious question.
I was on Hugh Hewitt’s radio show last night, talking about the Benghazi talking point emails. Near the end of the segment, Hugh asked whether I thought the presidential election might have turned out differently if Obama and Clinton had not succeeded in covering up the truth about Benghazi. I was skeptical. The story of the election, I said, was the Obama campaign’s ability to turn out, once again, a large majority of the low-information voters who swept Obama into office in 2008. Few of those low-information voters, I said, would either have understood, or cared about, Benghazi, even if all the facts had been available.
Which is true, I think, as far as it goes. But what if all of the current Obama scandals had broken last fall? What if voters not only knew the truth about Benghazi–that four Americans were killed by al Qaeda because the Obama administration ignored repeated warnings from the CIA, refused the ambassador’s pleas for better security, and failed even to try to rescue them once they came under attack–but also knew that the IRS had been commissioned to harass the administration’s political opponents? And what if, in addition, reporters knew about DOJ’s surveillance of the Associated Press?
We know that the administration fought feverishly to prevent the truth about Benghazi from coming out until after the election. That is what the notorious talking points, Susan Rice’s tour of the TV news shows, and Obama’s and Clinton’s endless references to the phantom video were all about. We also know that the IRS’s improper activities were well known at the upper reaches of the IRS as well as the Treasury Department–and, it is fair to assume, at the White House–well before the election. Yet numerous officials conspired to keep the scandal quiet until the election was safely past, and at least one IRS employee seems rather clearly to have committed perjury to keep the scandal from coming to the attention of voters. As for the AP surveillance, I still don’t understand the legal context of the incident, and I doubt that many voters would have been swayed by the apparently legal, but unprecedented, surveillance of reporters. But what if reporters had been angry enough over the administration’s double-cross (as they might reasonably see it) that their coverage of the campaign’s closing weeks had been less slavishly pro-Obama? Might these factors, together, have made a difference?
I still don’t think the result would have been different. To an extraordinary degree, the 2012 electorate seemed uninterested in the Obama administration’s failures. If voters didn’t care about the economy or about $16 trillion in debt, why would they have cared about Benghazi or the IRS? But the cumulative effect of multiple, mutually reinforcing scandals is hard to predict. It is easy to understand why, last fall, the Obama administration didn’t want to take any chances. They went into full cover-up mode, and carried off their multiple cover-ups successfully. Without doubt, that effort helped to bring about the president’s re-election.
The analogy to 1972 is obvious. Richard Nixon managed to keep the lid on Watergate long enough to enjoy one of the most sweeping electoral victories in American history. After the election, however, his cover-up unraveled; it consumed, and eventually destroyed, his second term. Whether the same will happen to Obama remains to be seen, but already it is clear that scandal will be a major part of the Obama legacy.
If Mitt Romney was a criminal defendant there would be ample evidence to justify granting him a new trial. If a prosecutor had intentionally withheld that evidence a reversal would be a slam dunk. The rules are a little different in civil court but concealing evidence is a big no-no there too.
But winning a new trial doesn’t mean you’ll win that trial. The standard of proof is whether a reasonable juror might have decided differently after hearing the new evidence. Unfortunately we will never know for sure. On the other hand it would be irresponsible not to speculate.
Last year’s election came down to four key states. It would have taken relatively few votes to change the outcome. But some voters would not have voted differently even if Obama was caught burning an American flag. If the media had turned against Obama or at least taken a neutral stance on the election that probably would have changed the outcome. But so far these scandals haven’t significantly affected Obama’s approval ratings.
There are no do-overs in presidential elections. The Constitution does not provide for a remedy for a stolen election other than impeachment. Assuming that Obama was impeached by the House and convicted by the Senate, all that would do is put Joe Biden in the Oval Office. Mitt Romney would still be screwed.
So would we.
The House Ways and Means Committee is holding a hearing today on the IRS targeting of conservative groups. It’s scheduled for 9am eastern time which is zero dark thirty Klown time. It’s supposed to be on C-Span 2.
If I don’t wake up in time start without me.
The Internal Revenue Service official in charge of the tax-exempt organizations at the time when the unit targeted tea party groups now runs the IRS office responsible for the health care legislation.
Sarah Hall Ingram served as commissioner of the office responsible for tax-exempt organizations between 2009 and 2012. But Ingram has since left that part of the IRS and is now the director of the IRS’ Affordable Care Act office, the IRS confirmed to ABC News today.
Her successor, Joseph Grant, is taking the fall for misdeeds at the scandal-plagued unit between 2010 and 2012. During at least part of that time, Grant served as deputy commissioner of the tax-exempt unit.
Grant announced today that he would retire June 3, despite being appointed as commissioner of the tax-exempt office May 8, a week ago.
When I first read this story I thought it was a spoof. It just sounds insane. Promote the person responsible for the scandal and fire the new guy instead? You can’t make this shit up.
But wait! There’s more!
Sarah Hall Ingram, the IRS executive in charge of the tax exempt division in 2010 when it began targeting conservative Tea Party, evangelical and pro-Israel groups for harrassment, got more than $100,000 in bonuses between 2009 and 2012.
Well *somebody* was happy with her work.
BTW – there will be another congressional hearing on the IRS scandal later today. That means another (you guessed it) live blog.