Yesterday, when we reported that as a result of new disclosures regarding the timing of who learned what, but most importantly when, in the White House regarding the IRS persecution (if not prosecution) of conservative groups, we made it quite clear that the narrative enacted by the White House, which could simply be summarized as "we'll make it up as we go along", was nothing more than damage control in total disarray. Because once caught lying, the best solution usually is to stop lying and tell the truth, tying up all those loose ends that eventually lead to Watergate-type outcomes unless addressed early on. No such luck here.
Instead, the White House has doubled down on its crash and burn storyline and in doing so is merely guaranteeing that the very same conservatives, and all others who would rather not have a very political IRS on their back, who have smelled blood are not going to let go until someone at the very top takes responsibility for what, together with the AP-fiasco, is rapidly becoming Obama's Nixonian scandal.
Sure enough, here is The Hill with the White House's official explanation for what happened: "White House officials were notified of a Treasury Department inspector general report on the IRS but elected not to tell President Obama about it." In other words, neither the IRS chief was aware of what is going on at the IRS (recall the countless "I don't knows" and "I don't recalls") and apparently, neither was the president briefed on what everyone beneath him at the White House knew weeks in advance of the premeditated IRS leak. And in fact, it turns out it was someone else's executive duty to make the decision what the chief executive of the nation is and isn't allowed to know in the first pace. So, maybe we are confused, but just how is Obama the "president" again?
For more on how when the White House finds itself in a hole, it merely keeps on digging and digging, we go to The Hill:
White House press secretary Jay Carney said Monday that Chief of Staff Dennis McDonough and other senior officials knew of the general nature of the report but decided to keep the president in the dark about the report’s finding that the IRS had targeted conservative groups for extra tax scrutiny
Carney said it was the White House counsel Kathryn Ruemmler’s judgment that the matter should not be told to the president, and that she conveyed this sentiment to senior staff.
Carney defended the decision, saying conclusions often change in the final stages of inspector general reports, and that it would’ve been inappropriate for the White House to involve itself in an ongoing investigation.
“To be clear, we knew the subject of the investigation and the nature of some of the potential findings,” Carney said.
“But we did not have a copy of the draft report, we did not know the details, the scope, or the motivation surrounding the misconduct. And we did not know who was responsible. Most importantly, the report was not final and still very much subject to change.”
Carney said that upon learning about the report, McDonough “rightly chose not to take action” to avoid being seen as intervening.
“That’s what any White House should do,” Carney said at the daily White House briefing
So according to the head spin doctor of the administration, what the White House should do is serve as a buffer for Obama, who should take all the credit for any and all correct decisions, but have heard no evil, seen no evil, and spoken no evil, when the implications could be potentially impeachable. Come to think of it, if we were running an unaccountable enterprise, we would do the same.
As for Ms. Ruemmler, or the women who decided what the president of the US should and shouldn't know, or in other words, his superior, should she perhaps be culpable of at least something?
Lanny Davis, a former special counsel under President Bill Clinton, wrote last week that Ruemmler should resign if she knew about the probe of the IRS and failed to tell the president.
Davis, writing for The Hill, argued that a White House counsel must have a keen ear for politics, and that it would have been better to tell Obama immediately of the facts of the case.
"If Ms. Ruemmler did know about this IRS story and didn’t inform the president immediately, then, respectfully, that must mean she didn’t appreciate fully the mammoth legal and political implications for the U.S. government as well as the American people of a story involving IRS officials abusing power and possibly violating criminal laws," Davis wrote.
Carney said Ruemmler and McDonough had only “top line” knowledge of the report’s findings. He argued that some in Congress, including House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrel Issa (R-Calif.), had been similarly briefed on the upcoming report, but chose to sit on the information so as not to interfere.
“Our whole point has been that knowing this was coming does not change the fact that there was nothing we could have or should have done about it,” Carney said, adding that it was wrong to say “that somehow the president should have been notified.”
The bottom line is that it appears the president is nothing but a figurehead, at least according to the White House's own take on things:
Carney said the president wasn’t upset that he had to learn about the report through the media, rather than from his advisers.
“The president believes and has faith that it is entirely appropriate that nobody here took any action to intervene,” Carney said. “Some matters are not appropriate to convey to him, and this is one of them.”
In other words, Executive-In-Chief... except when being Janitor-In-Chief leads to a more palatable outcome. Ironically we doubt the public will be very upset when they too learn, ostensibly through the wiretapped media, that Obama was and is nothing but a charismatic expert at reading a teleprompter, and that those who make the actual decisions, including what the "president" should and shouldn't know, are sitting comfortably, far behind the curtains.
That said it would not surprise us if the broader US population, engrossed in its Obamaphones and Tumblr blog accounts, has already long forgotten not only about this scandal, but that the whole premise of a functioning democracy is to have operating check and balances to those in charge. Which by definition means holding them accountable and responsible when such travesties of justice as those exposed in the past two weeks come to light.
Or maybe, once again, it will all be just Fabrice Tourre's fault...