The NSA revelations may reset the game, but the pattern was becoming clear: First it was "what scandals?" Next, the scandals were collapsing. Then it was "Republican overreach!" Now, with several damaging narratives still very much alive and taking a toll on public perceptions of the Obama administration, many liberals have devised a new approach to heading off the damage: Scorched-earth attacks. We saw glimmers of this at this week's House Ways and Means Committee hearing when some Democrats all but accused conservative organizations of bringing IRS abuse upon themselves by simply applying for 501(c)4 status. They did so, curiously, without making a single peep about deep-pocketed and explicitly political groups like President Obama's OFA seeking the same tax treatment. The chief offender appeared on Fox News yesterday and casually floated the possibility that Tea Party witnesses may have lied at the hearing, offering zero supporting evidence, natch:
Now top Democrats -- led by prominent veterans of Team Obama -- are aiming the big guns at House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa. David Plouffe fired a slanderous opening salvo on Twitter:
On Sunday, the flinty, self-consciously self-contained former White House senior adviser went Joe Pesci on the California Republican after Issa called Obama press secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar” on CNN over the ongoing investigation into the IRS-tea party scandal. “Strong words from Mr. Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler …” tweeted Plouffe, alluding to decades-old allegations that Issa, the chairman of the House investigations committee, stole cars and possibly torched his own business for the insurance money.
Plouffe was regurgitating discredited allegations against Issa that weren't true in the 1970s, and remain untrue today (via CNN):
Issa once noted to a Washington Post interviewer that "For years, I used to tell everyone that I went into it because my brother was a car thief. Then they found out when I ran for office my brother did spend time in prison as a car thief, and it ruined the whole joke." In 1972, then-19-year-old Issa too was arrested under suspicion of stealing a car, but Issa claims it was a case of mistaken identity and the charges were ultimately dropped.
Some Democrats told Politico they were "privately fretting" about Plouffe's incendiary remark, even though they "loved" him for unleashing it. Assailing Issa's character and temperament is officially a codified Democrat strategy. Another technically-former Obama mouthpiece, Robert Gibbs, has joined the fray, in case there was any doubt. Gibbs called on Issa to apologize to the IRS for advancing the "unsubstantiated" suggestion that the agency's Washington leadership directed its targeting program against conservatives. Er, unsubstantiated? Oops. Finally, we have MSNBC's Martin Bashir blowing the lid off of the real reason why Republicans have been talking about "the IRS" so much lately. It's because that acronym is the new N-word. Really:
"Republicans are using [the IRS] as their latest weapon in the war against the black man...We welcome the latest phrase in the lexicon of Republican attacks on this president. 'The IRS.' Three letters that sound so innocent, but we know what you mean."
I can't even. MSNBC's president recently commented that his nominal news network isn't a great source for breaking news. (Yep, he actually said that). I suppose it is the place to turn for surreal, conspiratorial "commentary" from self-parodic buffoons. Good business model, that. By the way, the
IRS 'New N-word' just missed a deadline to provide documentation to a Senate panel investigating their malfeasance, angering members of both parties. Before you go, be sure to read Josh Kraushaar at National Journal admonishing the White House that stonewalling and dismissing Republicans' scandal questions while promoting loyalists is a risky recipe.
Guy Benson is Townhall.com's Political Editor. Follow him on Twitter @guypbenson. He is co-authors with Mary Katharine Ham for their new book End of Discussion: How the Left's Outrage Industry Shuts Down Debate, Manipulates Voters, and Makes America Less Free (and Fun).
Author Photo credit: Jensen Sutta Photography