Barack Obama’s presidency might not survive the IRS scandal.
That seemed a long-shot at the start of the week, but there were a couple of things that gave me hope that was a possibility. First, there is something subtle but unmistakably different in Obama’s conduct. He’ll “get to the bottom of it,” and he’s “outraged.”
But he’s not outraged. He very much has a “going through the motions” look about him. I found this notable because he’s been remarkably consistent. He’s only got a couple of demeanors, and the one he should logically have—the assertive, vaguely dismissive certainty—is absent. I speculate that it’s because he’s not sure he won’t get splattered, and that’s new territory for him.
So he’s a little more tentative, which really sticks out on him. There’s some loose end, somewhere—perhaps a bit of sloppiness enabled by hubris—that implicates him, and he hasn’t figured a way out of it.
Now when I say there might be a smoking gun, I’m not saying an email from Barack Obama, subject: Here is How We’re Going To Take Down the Right-Wingers Using the IRS, with a ten-point plan inside. I think it is likely to instead be that he learned of the effort and, recognizing it as advantageous, didn’t say anything. That’s not directing the effort, but it’s not very much above it ethically or morally, either.
How long might that time have been? Well, maybe about five months. This reporting this evening—in The New York Times, of all places—solidly indicates that knowledge of the IRS targeting was present in the White House in June 2012.
What’s the trail? How far to Barack Obama? Well, that’s the big question, isn’t it?
Expect a frenzied weekend, folks.