When I saw Peggy Noonan’s regular Friday column pop up at RealClearPolitics this morning, I groaned aloud. That wasn’t just because the title–“A Bombshell in the IRS Scandal”–was so feverishly tendentious. No, I just dreaded the effort of slogging through Peggy’s turgid and often incoherent prose in search of an argument worth rebutting.

But bless his indefatigable soul, Brother Benen did it for us! First the facts:

When [the] IRS office in Cincinnati needed guidance on how to deal with questionable tax-exempt applications, they solicited feedback from the agency’s office [in] Washington. Among those who weighed in was the IRS’s lawyer, which obviously makes sense given the circumstances.

The Wall Street Journal’s Peggy Noonan, whose uncontrollable contempt for President Obama has become difficult to watch, found this revelation fascinating.

“The IRS scandal was connected this week not just to the Washington office — that had been established — but to the office of the chief counsel.

“That is a bombshell — such a big one that it managed to emerge in spite of an unfocused, frequently off-point congressional hearing…. Still, what landed was a bombshell. And Democrats know it.”


Now the diagnosis:

It troubles me that the right doesn’t realize the extent to which it’s embarrassing itself. The revelation isn’t a “bombshell”; it’s trivia we learned in mid-May. Indeed, Peggy Noonan herself knows this. I don’t mean she should know this; I mean there’s evidence she literally knows it — she wrote a column in May that referenced the same boring tidbit she now considers a “bombshell.”

Here’s what probably happened. Noonan learned a fairly mundane detail in May and wrote about it in a column. Then she forgot it. Two months later, Darrell Issa said he wants the media to take mundane detail seriously for no particular reason, and Noonan, unwilling to reference her own work, rediscovers her fascination with the unimportant point.

And then the coup de grace:

Ben Smith recently characterized Noonan as the “last interesting columnist standing.” If by “interesting” he meant “lazy and blindly partisan,” I’m inclined to agree.

The Noonan column led to an interesting Twitter exchange touched off by Kevin Drum, who asked: “What was the exact point when she finally became completely unhinged?” Please feel free to offer your own answers to that question in the comment thread.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore is a political columnist for New York and managing editor at the Democratic Strategist website. He was a contributing writer at the Washington Monthly from January 2012 until November 2015, and was the principal contributor to the Political Animal blog.