The Watcher Cat

The Watcher Cat

Monday, May 13, 2013

Anatomy of a Scandal

I was largely incommunicado for a few days, so missed a couple of things within my bailiwick. So, OK, let's get this clear:

1. This is not a scandal.

The attack on the consulate of Benghazi was a tragedy, and, until I see something other than primal screaming from the critical testimony at the hearings, I'm presuming that the Report of the State Department Accountability Review Board has it approximately right. I'm open to persuasion, mind you. But the hair-splitting headline chasing gymnastics of Darrell Issa? Unpersuasive is a flattering description. (On Issa, I'll outsource my commentary to congressional expert Anthony Clark, who knows wherof he writes.)

2. This is a scandal. Singling out groups for governmental scrutiny based on their political views is, whatever one thinks of the views in question, absolutely reprehensible, and one of the most overt violations of the First Amendment one can imagine. I am, as anyone who reads this blog regularly might have gathered, not a fan of the Tea Party. But the protections of the First Amendment are not, thank heaven, limited to those whose views are in favor with the Administration of the day, or even to people who are "mainstream." The use of tax audits as a political weapon has a dire provenance, and there is, simply, no justification for targeting taxpayers and organizations by political belief. It's not just illegal, it's profoundly subversive of democracy. The President's condemnation was a good first step, but I hope he will follow though and make sure that the investigation is thorough, and that the results are transparent, and that remedial action be taken as appropriate.

We the People should hold the President to those words.

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