It was supposed to be an easy win: The most loathed federal agency engaged in what amounted to discrimination against tea party-backed nonprofits.First things first: The notion that the IRS exclusively targeted tea party groups has been debunked time and again. Far from a political witch hunt, the IRS was merely doing what Congress requires it do: Review applications from political groups seeking taxpayer subsidies in the form of non-profit status. The fact that there were a lot of tea party groups seeking such status in 2010 does not a scandal make.
But 10 months out from the first IRS scandal headline, some Republicans are unhappy with their party’s investigation — and they point a finger at the man who helped sustain the national uproar: Oversight and Government Reform Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.)
Second, while it's true that the IRS is one of the least popular government agencies, it's not necessarily the most unpopular. According to Pew, that honor goes to the Department of Education. Plus, as Pew notes, the IRS is still vastly more popular than Congress. And I'll add one more note: The IRS is also far more popular than the Republican Party—or the tea party.
Please read below the fold for more on this story.
But as lame as the article's opening is, its intellectual punch doesn't really hit bottom until Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz offers up the following quote:
“There is a perception that if your case is rock-solid, it doesn’t need months to sort it out,” said Chaffetz, who like several others, said the recent dust-up between Issa and top panel Democrat Elijah Cummings was unfortunate.Out of context, that might actually seem like a good point to make, given that the number one reason the IRS "scandal" has failed to make a dent is that the case itself is not rock-solid. But that's not the point Chaffetz was making. He was trying to assert—without evidence—that the case was in fact rock solid, but that Issa's handling of it made it seem like it wasn't rock solid.
In other words, instead of blaming the fizzle of the "scandal" on the fact that there actually isn't an underlying scandal, Chaffetz is blaming Issa for dragging his feet in exposing the true scandal. Of course, Issa is hardly alone in failing to expose this true scandal. Chaffetz has failed as well, along with every other Republican who has tried.
In a non-hermetically-sealed environment, they might reach the conclusion that the fact they haven't uncovered a scandal means there isn't one, but for these guys, the investigation begins with the assumption that the scandal must exist. It doesn't take much logic to realize what this means: For as long as Republicans run the Oversight Committee and Barack Obama is president, the investigation will continue, because it cannot end until it uncovers that which does not exist.
The one thing that I think everybody can agree on, however, is that it's all Darrell Issa's fault. At least mostly.