Why do Conservatives insist on getting in their own way? They couldn’t have asked for a better week, one White House scandal following another like so many tumbling dominos. Yet rather than simply sit back and watch the administration self-destruct, Tea Party groups are planning to rally in front of IRS buildings on Tuesday in cities across the country. Demonstrations that can interrupt the current news cycle, which is almost too good to be true! Why do conservatives want to lose so often?
The Scandal-Palooza of the past week doesn't just have legs; it has momentum. Like Usain Bolt, it's fast and seemingly unstoppable. Just when you think it’s over, it comes back even stronger. It’s the White House seizing AP phone records so as to control the news cycle after an al-Qaeda terror plot was foiled in Yemen. It's the IRS withholding tax exempt status for Tea Party, conservative, and pro-Constitution groups, and asking the most invasive and personal questions. It's Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius raising money for Enroll America, a private nonprofit organization formed for the purpose of encouraging Americans to sign up for insurance this fall, while CEOs and bigwigs of corporations are subjected to her Obamacare mandates. And, of course, Benghazi…
(As Seton Motley of Less Government reminded me on my radio show, this list doesn’t include Operation Fast and Furious and the murder of Brian Terry or the EPA FOIA request scandal. Add them.)
As the week went on, even the progressives could not get their heads around the scandals, the lack of urgency from the White House nor the nagging feeling that President Obama was not up to the task of, well, being president. Over at The Washington Post, Dana Milbank wrote about AG Eric Holder's response to questions about the Justice Department gathering the AP phone records.
On and on Holder went: “I don’t know. I don’t know. . . . I would not want to reveal what I know. . . . I don’t know why that didn’t happen. . . . I know nothing, so I’m not in a position really to answer.”
Holder seemed to regard this ignorance as a shield protecting him and the Justice Department from all criticism of the Obama administration’s assault on press freedoms. But his claim that his “recusal” from the case exempted him from all discussion of the matter didn’t fly with Republicans or Democrats on the committee, who justifiably saw his recusal as more of an abdication.
Just a day earlier, his column bore the headline, "Obama, the uninterested president."
While Milbank was calling Holder out on the carpet, MSNBC's Chris Matthews (His Tingleness!) went to town on Obama. His claim - the steering wheel doesn't control the car. He went on, wondering what part of the Presidency does Obama like?
So what part does he like? He likes going on the road, campaigning, visiting businesses like he does every couple days somewhere in Ohio or somewhere. What part doesn’t he like? He doesn’t like lobbying for the bills he cares about. He doesn’t like selling to the press. Does he like giving orders or giving somebody the power to give orders? No. He doesn’t seem to like being an executive.
And that very week David Axelrod, in many ways Obama's Capo Di Tutti Capi (just don't let Valerie Jarret hear you say that. Speaking of, where is Valerie Jarret in all of these scandals? I mean, where is she? Anyway, back to Axelrod...) speaking to Joe Scarborough on MSNBC, said that government is too vast for the president to know everything is happening.
The biggest progressive names in the world are making the conservative (really, America's) case! Milbank calling Holder purposefully ignorant. Matthews wondering if Obama even likes his job. Axelrod clearly making the case that government is too big. Victory is in sight. Why get in the way?
By way of context, I’m a Tea Party member. I helped organize the original Tea Party events in Los Angeles, and I’ve spoken at rallies and educational forums across the country. I’m convinced that fundamental Tea Party principles - Constitutional government, free markets, fiscal responsibility - still resonate with Americans. And that these scandals (specifically the IRS attacks) will usher in a resurgence of the Tea Party, and make 2014 a very uncomfortable election for Sen. Harry Reid and Co.
Like nearly all in the movement, I am infuriated and disgusted with the IRS, with the administration, and with the sickening elitism that permeates Washington, DC. But to rally in front of IRS offices is, at this point, self-destructive. It takes the focus off the scandals themselves and the administration's arrogance in talking about them. It gives the press, which has covered the scandals, if begrudgingly (except for the AP phone records story...they are really livid about that) something else to talk about.
There will be a right time to rally. But it should not be about the Tea Party’s (justifiable) anger towards the IRS. It should be about Americans coming together to express their disgust with government overreach and abuse. It should be less about the Tea Party and more about the future of America.
But the time is not now. People are just learning about these scandals and their breadth. They are just now learning about their government’s abuses and lies, and how the press helped those lies spread. That is a true victory.
A rally now will snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Shame on us for not knowing how to win.