The lesson of Lois Lerner
You can get away with murder if you have friends in high places
Almost any prosecutor, so courthouse wisdom goes, can persuade a grand jury to indict a ham sandwich, with or without cheese. Barack Obama’s prosecutor, Attorney General Loretta Lynch, was “persuaded” to throw out the case against Lois Lerner, the high-ranking officer at the Internal Revenue Service who targeted Tea Party groups for special attention in the run-up to the 2010 and 2012 elections. The ends, winning elections, justify the means, however outrageous. “The power to tax,” as Chief Justice John Marshall famously said, “is the power to destroy.” That’s why President Obama loves it so. It’s the Chicago way.
The Justice Department made the announcement Friday, the usual day for dropping news the bureaucracy knows is shady and counts on it disappearing over the weekend. Neither Ms. Lerner nor any of her connivers at the IRS will face criminal charges for subjecting conservative nonprofits to special scrutiny and denying them crucial tax-exempt status. “What occurred is disquieting and may necessitate corrective action — but it does not warrant criminal prosecution,” Assistant Attorney Gen. Peter J. Kadzik told the House Judiciary Committee. Ms. Lerner was allowed to retire in 2013 with a generous pension. The House moved impeachment proceedings Tuesday against John Koskinen for misleading Congress and destroying records sought by subpoena.
“Disquieting” is a favorite mayonnaise word for the administration, bland and inoffensive. “Disquieting” is the word President Obama’s lawyers at the Justice Department used in dismissing charges against two members of the New Black Panther Party who intimidated voters at a Philadelphia polling place in 2008. A campaign within the U.S. tax agency to shield the president from dozens of conservative groups seeking redress of grievances at the ballot box is more than “disquieting.” It deserves a word with a little mustard on it. It’s mischief more expected in a banana republic than in an ethical democracy. (No offense to bananas intended.)
Intimidation by the IRS is particularly chilling. Everyone is afraid of the tax man, with his power to seek and destroy. “Americans’ faith in government and in the IRS in particular has been greatly eroded by an administration that, when confronted with instances of misconduct, appears complicit in shielding those involved from responsibility,” says Rep. Darrell Issa, California Republican. “Giving Lois Lerner a free pass only reinforces the idea that government officials are above the law and that there is no consequence for wrongdoing.”
Mr. Issa is well acquainted with the anatomy of a cover-up. Operation Fast and Furious, the administration’s scheme to distribute guns to evil men to trace the weapons to Mexican drug lords, yielded no arrests of drug lords, but Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry yielded his life to the lords. A lengthy congressional investigation resulted only in a couple of firings and reassignments of agents in the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives. Stonewalling by Eric Holder, who was then the U.S. attorney general, led to an unprecedented House vote holding him in contempt of Congress. Mr. Holder’s protected obstinacy prevented the public from learning how high up in the Obama White House the irresponsibility went. Democrats led by Hillary Clinton had similar success last week playing a game of hiding accountability for irresponsibility for the Benghazi terror attack. The public is left with feeling something more than “disquiet.” When innocents are murdered and no one is held responsible the public no longer trusts the government.
There’s an unspoken rule in politics: Never apologize to anyone for anything. Republicans never learn it and Democrats never forget it, and get away with murder.