The les­son of Lois Lerner

You can get away with mur­der if you have friends in high places

The Washington Times Weekly - - Editorials -

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.

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