Of course the president deserves some of the blame.
Yes, it's extremely unlikely he ordered the IRS to discriminate against tea party, pro-life or Jewish groups opposed to his agenda (though why anyone should take his word for it is beyond me). And his outrage now -- however convenient -- is appreciated. But when people he views as his "enemies" complained about a politicized IRS, what did he do? Nothing.
Imagine for a moment if black civil rights organizations, gay groups or teachers unions loudly complained to members of Congress and the press that the IRS was discriminating against them. How long would it take for the White House to investigate? Answer honestly: Minutes? Hours? OK, maybe days if there was an attack on one of our embassies that the administration was busy ignoring.
Obviously, it would take longer for Obama to actually get to the bottom of the accusations and, if true, punish those responsible. But you can be sure that the moment he heard credible allegations of political persecution of liberal groups -- outfits with "progressive" or "civil rights" in their names -- he would have moved heaven and earth to make things right.
But when such allegations came from the right, the response from the president -- and from a press corps that until recently acted like a king's guard -- ranged from smirks and eye-rolling to flat-out lies or virtual applause.
For 27 months, groups with such terms as "tea party" or "patriot" in their names were singled out for deeply intrusive and expensive scrutiny, while groups flying the "progressive" banner sailed through. Drew Ryun gave up trying to get IRS approval for a free market organization after 17 months of bureaucratic stonewalling. But when he applied for approval of an organization called "Greenhouse Solutions" he got the go-ahead in three weeks.
When top Democratic senators pressured the IRS to single out conservative groups not just for special scrutiny but for "caps" on how much money they could spend, President Obama didn't tell Chuck Schumer, Carl Levin or Max Baucus to cool it.
But Obama's culpability in all of this isn't restricted merely to his sins of omission. Throughout his presidency, Obama has set a very clear tone.
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