June 17, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: The Lois Stretch: It’s reminiscent of Rose Mary Woods’s 18½ minutes of fame.

Vietnam and Watergate have been central to the worldview of a generation of liberal Democrats. For decades, whenever a Republican was in the White House, they eagerly anticipated that every U.S. military intervention would turn into “another Vietnam” and every scandal “another Watergate.”

Be careful what you wish for. As we noted Friday, the Vietnam analogy now seems to fit Iraq, except that it was a Democratic administration that initiated the U.S. involvement in the former conflict, while a Republican one presided over the U.S. withdrawal that left a humanitarian disaster in its wake. The administrations’ parties were reversed in the case of Iraq.

Also on Friday, a new development in the Internal Revenue Service scandal drew comparisons to the Wategate coverup. The IRS informed the House Ways and Means Committee, one of the panels investigating the scandal, “that they have lost Lois Lerner emails from a period of January 2009-April 2011,” Chairman Dave Camp announced. . . .

Camp notes that the IRS decided to “bury” the claim of lost emails “deep in an unrelated letter on a Friday afternoon.” He isn’t kidding. It appears on the 15th page of the document, which is actually the seventh page of the first attachment to an eight-page letter, addressed to Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Orrin Hatch of Utah, respectively chairman and ranking Republican of the Senate Finance Committee.

The IRS asserts that it has “determined that Ms. Lerner’s computer crashed in mid-2011. . . . The data stored on her computer’s hard drive was determined to be ‘unrecoverable’ by the IT [information technology] professionals.” The agency further claims to have “confirmed that back-up tapes from 2011 no longer exist because they have been recycled.”

We’re not the first to hear echoes of the missing 18½ minutes of President Nixon’s Oval Office tapes. The Washington Post recounted the excuse for the destruction of that evidence in its 2005 obituary for Rose Mary Woods.

But not in its coverage of Lois Lerner.