Do you remember what President Obama initially said about the Internal Revenue Service scandal? Do you recall his professed outrage?
Obama wanted us to know how furious he was. He said, "The misconduct that (the inspector general's report) uncovered is inexcusable." "It's inexcusable," he repeated, "and Americans are right to be angry about it, and I am angry about it. I will not tolerate this kind of behavior in any agency -- but especially in the IRS, given the power that it has and the reach that it has into all of our lives."
He declared that the "responsible parties" would be held "accountable." He reported that Treasury Secretary Jack Lew "took the first step by requesting -- and accepting -- the resignation of the acting commissioner of the IRS (Steven Miller) because given the controversy surrounding this audit, it's important to institute new leadership that can help restore confidence going forward." He said he had directed the agency to implement recommendations from the inspector general to ensure that this outrageous conduct would not be repeated.
Please don't snicker at this, but Obama also promised that his administration would work "hand in hand with Congress to get this thing fixed."
Be advised that he was reading from a prepared statement, which means he wasn't shooting from the hip and said precisely what he intended to say.
What has he done since? Let's just look at a few developments.
Former IRS official Lois Lerner has twice invoked her Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination to avoid answering congressional questions. Just recently, her lawyer said she did so to avoid congressional bullying. I guess I was not in class the day my law school professor informed us that "fear of congressional bullying" is a legitimate basis on which to assert the privilege.
In January, we learned that the Justice Department selected Barbara Kay Bosserman, a strong political supporter of Obama's and contributor to him, to lead the criminal probe into the scandal. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa and Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs Chairman Jim Jordan sent a letter complaining, "The Department has created a startling conflict of interest."
In March, Rep. Dave Camp, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, said Obama had reneged on his promise to have his aides cooperate with the investigation, forcing the committee to conduct a dragnet for emails and documents needed to uncover the truth. He said federal agents conducting the investigation hadn't talked to a single target of the IRS at that point.
The IRS promised to turn over all its emails and then, more than a year after it discovered they were missing, said it had lost emails because of crashed hard drives. There was not just one crashed hard drive; there were six or seven. And the lost emails "coincidentally" covered the very period the targeting went on. During this same period, the IRS reconfigured its backup system and deleted its backups of the pertinent emails. Hardly anyone outside of Obama's and Harry Reid's families is buying this complex fable. Polls show that 76 percent of Americans believe that the emails were deliberately deleted.
All of this makes me wonder what could be so incriminating on these emails that Lerner and her cronies would prefer having three-fourths of the country believe they deliberately destroyed the evidence over disclosing what was on the emails.
Just as troubling are Obama's subsequent statements about the scandal. Far from still being "angry" (as if he ever was), he told Fox News' Bill O'Reilly that there was "not even a smidgen of corruption" in the IRS affair. He even denied that the IRS had targeted conservative groups for political purposes. "That's not what happened," he said. Instead, IRS officials were confused about how to implement the law governing tax-exempt groups. "There were some boneheaded decisions."
One of the most damning revelations surfaced just last week, and it's surprising more isn't being made of it. We discovered that Lerner had received an invitation addressed to Sen. Chuck Grassley and personally ordered an audit based on it. This is an abuse of power on a scale we've rarely seen.
There is much more, but this is enough to make what I'm going to tell you next an unmitigated outrage.
What's that? It's that Obama, just last week, pranced to the microphone to accuse Congress of making all this up for political reasons. He said these allegations involved only "Washington fights" and "fabricated issues. They're phony scandals that are generated. It's all geared towards the next election or ginning up a base; it's not on the level."
Opportunistically pivoting from "outrage" to "phony scandals" would have been bad enough if no additional incriminating facts had been uncovered between his polar-opposite statements, but almost everything we learned in the interim points to far worse corruption, not less.
How does anyone believe anything Obama says anymore, except when he boasts that he's going to advance his liberal agenda lawlessly, without Congress, which he did again last week?
Obama once quipped to French President Francois Hollande, "That's the good thing about being president; I can do whatever I want."
People thought he was joking.