The Department of Justice snoops telephone records of the Associated Press. The Internal Revenue Service targets right-leaning organizations for extra scrutiny, going so far as to audit Billy Graham – Billy Graham! – both his preaching ministry which has always been above any reproach, and Samaritan’s Purse, his highly respected ministry to the poor.
And the President says he is outraged.
Hold on, Mr. President. The people at the DOJ and the IRS work for you, and their bosses are your cabinet officials Attorney General Eric Holder and Treasury Secretary (at the time) Timothy Geithner. The facts and the American people will not allow you to pull a Pontius Pilate, wash your hands of the whole affair(s), and tell someone to take care of it.
The buck stops at the White House, not in some low level bureaucrat’s office.
As pleased as all the President’s men no doubt are to see his failures in Benghazi out of the news for a while, these latest revelations are not just garden variety politics. This Administration is guilty of a rank abuse of power such as has not been seen since the Nixon days.
Congressional hearings will commence immediately, no doubt, and the familiar “What did the President know and when did he know it?” question of the Watergate era will once again be posed.
As it should be.
All the elements of Watergate are here in the DOJ/IRS scandals unfolding before us: government spying on private citizens and organizations, recriminations against political adversaries, disclosure of the truth by one or a few decent government employees, lies of officials in an attempt to cover up that truth, efforts to isolate responsibility for wrong-doing to the lowest level possible, and a President’s purported outrage.
All we’re missing here are Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman to play the star reporters for the Washington Post, and we could have a real story on our hands.
The President has learned that even in his charmed political universe, in which any criticism from the mainstream media is unthinkable, there is a third rail that must not be touched. He has directed his political power against the media machine itself, and no one, not even he, gets a free ride when that happens.
And while some in the nation might have looked the other way at IRS harassment of the Tea Partiers because of their politics, no one’s going to stand idly by, Mr. President, while you mess with Billy Graham. You keep knocking at heaven’s door like that, and you might not like it when the door is answered.
– Andy Taggart is an attorney with Taggart, Rimes & Graham law firm in Jackson. He is a highly regarded attorney, political, business and community leader. He is a cum laude graduate of Tulane University, where he served on the law school editorial board. He also serves on the Board of Trustees of Mississippi College. A long-time presence in governmental policy and political arenas, he is a frequent speaker at major events and has been involved in a wide range of activities, from serving as CEO of the Mississippi Technology Alliance to chief of staff for the late Governor Kirk Fordice. Email him at email@example.com