A Word of Encouragement for IRS Commissioner John Koskinen
Now to you or me, $10 million is a lot of money. But to the IRS? According to Darrell Issa, their IT budget alone is $1.8 billion. If I did the math right, $30 million is 0.016 percent of the IRS’s IT budget. 0.016 percent.
Here’s the bottom line. The IRS has been accused of targeting the political opponents of the Obama administration. The response, in rough order of emission, has been:
1. No they didn’t. It was all (quoth the president of the United States) a “phony scandal.”
2. They targeted liberal groups too (except the IRS inspector general disagrees).
3. It was all the fault of two “rogue agents” in Cincinnati (that was Jay Carney’s little piece of drollery)
4. Then we had Barack Obama’s personal assurance that there was not even a “smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS. “Smidgeon, noun. Informal: a small amount of something.” There wasn't even a small amount of corruption at the IRS—which is why, of course, a senior agency employee like Lois Lerner decided to take the Fith Amendment to avoid self-incrimination.
Mr. Koskinen’s testimony over the last several days has been greeted with what might politely be called skepticism, not to to say naked disbelief and contempt, by Congress. “You promised to produce documents,” Darrell Issa reminded Mr. Koskinen. “You did not. . . .
You worked to cover up the fact they were missing and only came forward to fess up on a Friday afternoon after you had been caught red-handed.”
Some might say that John Koskinen was guilty of obstruction of justice. Currently, the Wikipedia entry for “Obstruction of Justice” lists four “notable examples” of the crime. Leading the list is Richard Nixon's efforts to silence people involved in the Watergate scandal. I wonder whether there will soon be a fifth notable example. If so, it is likely to include the names of John Koskinen, Lois Lerner, and who knows how many people at the White House.
Listening to John Koskinen’s testimony, it’s difficult not to conclude that instead of heeding Walter Scott’s admonition, he inclined to the later improvement by J. R. Pope in “A Word of Encouragement”:
Oh, what a tangled web we weave
When first we practice to deceive!
But when we’ve practiced quite a while
How vastly we improve our style!