Just What America Needs: Another Select Committee Investigation

Man, the groan-worthy news just keeps coming today. This is from Dave Weigel:

At a Republican Party fundraising breakfast in his district on Wednesday, Representative Trey Gowdy suggested that the congressional GOP needed to investigate the IRS’s scrutiny of political groups with the same intensity that it was investigating the 2012 attacks in Benghazi.

“I’m glad that the speaker of the House convened a select committee on Benghazi,” said Gowdy, a former prosecutor who chairs that panel. “I think it makes every bit as much sense to convene a select committee on the IRS. Now that we have the Senate, the Senate has tools the House doesn’t have in terms of getting e-mails and cooperation. It has nothing to do with politics. Do you really want an IRS targeting you based on your political beliefs?”

You do kind of wish you could be in the audience at a moment like this to shout out: “Does ‘targeting’ mean slow-walking your application for a fake ‘social welfare organization’ status that lets you hide the donors for your dubiously legal political activities, including negative TV ads?'” You’d probably get the crap beaten out of you, of course.

But despite the consistent and redundant and maddening and presumably very conscious GOP conflation of possible (not even well-established, but possible) red-tape with tax audits and asset seizures and other things the IRS does that frighten people–it’s still a bit surprising they are tempted to put the spotlight on that “scandal.” Why not keep it on Benghazi!, which after all seems vaguely congruent with today’s headlines from Libya and the rest of the Middle East, and more importantly, features Hillary Clinton as a presumed villain or at least incompetent flake?

Part of the answer, I fear, is that Gowdy has every intention of keeping his Benghazi! hearings going:

In his speech and afterward, Gowdy also said that his Benghazi committee had yet to call up to 30 State Department witnesses and up to 50 total witnesses that could be brought in over the next few months. Among the possibilities: Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice.

That should be enough to keep them cooking until, say, the eve of the Iowa Caucuses.

But beyond that, I suppose the temptation of alleging the political use of the IRS by a Democratic administration is just too strong to ignore, ever. Indeed, I figure it will happen in the future whenever there is a Democrat in the White House. Even if there’s no real evidence, a vague allegation makes sense from the point of view of Lyndon Johnson’s ancient precept about throwing mud at the wall: I want to hear the SOB deny it.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.