The editors of the Chicago Tribune have called once again for a special prosecutor for the IRS scandal:
On a matter this serious, the administration can’t adequately investigate itself. Given the amount of smoke now rising from the IRS, many Americans won’t be much interested in what one arm of the administration concludes about other arms, including the IRS, the Treasury Department of which it’s part, and possibly the White House.
That’s why we’ve urged Attorney General Eric Holder to appoint a special prosecutor — a phrase that, like “customer support” or “designated hitter,” provokes Pavlovian suspicions. We’ve been skeptical of some special prosecutors and their tendency toward mission creep. But we’ve also seen situations where only a special prosecutor has the independence and credibility to resolve a case that drips with politics, as when then-U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald of Chicago investigated (and convicted of perjury and other offenses) I. Lewis “Scooter” Libby, who had been Vice President Dick Cheney’s chief of staff.
Why Holder won’t act is a mystery he’s inviting Americans to resolve, uncharitably, in their own minds.
The latest revelations is that emails which may shed light on the matter which were required by law to be retained may have either been irrevocably lost or destroyed.
Only the most partisan can possibly doubt that there is a scandal here. The IG acknowledged wrongdoing more than a year ago and Lois Lerner’s early assertions that the actions were only those of a few rogue agents in a single office have been revealed as either most charitably mistaken or more likely baldfaced lies. The scandal is either the classic one of wrongdoing and subsequent cover-up or monumental incompetence and scofflawry. Either is a scandal.
Public trust in government is at historic lows. That may have been abetted by relentless Republican attacks on government but it’s obvious that the federal government has done itself little good over the last six years. We’re in desperate need of the air being cleared and I’m not really sure what actions or policies will bring that about.
If early indications are any gauge we’re shaping up for a strong anti-incumbent election in the fall. Since rates of retention in office approach 90%, an anti-incumbent wave would mean that only three-quarters of incumbents would be returned to office. I don’t think will quite do it.