Harry Truman famously kept a sign on his desk in the Oval Office, “The Buck Stops Here.” Sixty years later, President Obama hangs a sign on the door to the Oval Office, “Do Not Disturb.” In 1978, about halfway between the two liberal presidents, Harvey Mansfield, as we’ve noted before, diagnosed the decline: “From having been the aggressive doctrine of vigorous, spirited men, liberalism has become hardly more than a trembling in the presence of illiberalism. . . . Who today is called a liberal for strength and confidence in defense of liberty?”
The complexity of Washington scandals as they unfold usually involves many moments at which it is possible to lose sight of the forest for the trees. Two such instances have come into sharper relief in recent weeks. One is that we still have no good explanation for U.N. ambassador Susan Rice’s talking points for her round of talk show appearances the Sunday after the 9/11/12 attack on the U.S. diplomatic compound in Benghazi.
Congressional hearings over the last two weeks have been filled with stories of misconduct due to incompetence and inexperience among certain IRS employees. Both Republicans and Democrats have leveled the accusations, and Internal Revenue officials testifying before Congress have admitted as much. At the same time, all parties have stressed that the vast majority of IRS employees are hard working, competent, and honest civil servants.
A reporter confirmed with Jay Carney, today at the press briefing, that President Obama met with his chief of staff and the treasury secretary many times over the last month and that neither official told the president of the IRS scandal:
Everyone in Washington, except those in the crosshairs, likes a good scandal, and THE WEEKLY STANDARD is no exception. What’s more, in the case of the Obama administration, comeuppance is well deserved and overdue. So while it may be a dubious pleasure to enjoy watching the high brought low and the proud en route to their fall, we’re willing to indulge in it.