Memories: I always thought the number of Bill Clinton enemies audited by his Internal Revenue Service was a bit high to be coincidental.* When Clinton accuser Paula Jones was audited in 1997, Clinton’s press secretary Mike McCurry denied White House involvement:
”None whatsoever” … “We may do some dumb things from time to time but we are not certifiably insane,” Mr. McCurry said. ”The I.R.S. and the I.R.S. solely is the one that makes decisions about the enforcement of tax laws.”
We now know, of course, that you don’t need direct White House involvement to politicize the IRS, at least for Democrats.** The underlings know what to do! The idea that they are apolitical professionals was always a myth.*** It’s even more of a myth now, in the era of Daily Kos and Greg Sargent. I wonder if McCurry, now safely through the revolving door, would like to revisit his statement. …
P.S.: According to a Judicial Watch filing, the Clinton enemies audited included
Clinton paramours Gennifer Flowers and Liz Ward Gracen, sexual assault accusers Paula Jones and Juanita Broaddrick, and fired White House Travel Office Director Billy Dale.
as well as these organizations:
The National Rifle Association, The Heritage Foundation, The National Review, The American Spectator, Freedom Alliance, National Center for Public Policy Research, American Policy Center, American Cause, Citizens Against Government Waste, Citizens for Honest Government, Progress and Freedom Foundation, Concerned Women for America and the San Diego Chapter of Christian Coalition.
P.P.S.: Two days before the I.R.S. apologized for auditing Tea Party Groups, the Social Security Administration released an obviously politicized estimate of the effect of passing immigration reform (it conveniently looked only 10 years out, covering the years most immigrants would be contributing to the system but not the years they’d be collecting benefits). So the I.R.S. has been politicized, and the actuaries at Social Security have been politicized. But only crazy right wing nutters would dare to suggest that the Bureau of Labor Statistics might have been politicized in October, 2012 when it released the most politically consequential monthly jobs numbers in memory. Got it.
*- See original Mickey’s Assignment Desk, #3.
**–What percentage of IRS employees are Democrats? My guess is over 70%. It’s like the theater: Conservatives just tend to not go into that line of work. That’s why it is actually more troubling if the politicization is due to self-starting mid-level Obamaphilic officials. The argument would be this: Big government will always mean giving bureaucrats some control, and these bureaucrats will always tend to be Democrats. If they aren’t restrained by the apolitical civil service ethic, then they will always tend to harrass conservatives and Republicans. It takes a willful bad actor like Nixon to get them to act differently and harrass Democrats instead.
It’s not an argument against Obama. It’s an argument against government–i.e. against modern liberalism.
***–Here’s David Brooks, chiding the poor Americans who are understandably so ignorant about the ways of Washington that they suspect civil servants act politically:
You know, people who don’t know much about Washington may think that everyone around here is hyper-politicized, but if you actually go into the bowels of the federal government, there are a lot people who don’t care that much about politics.