Leave it to Ed Schultz to conjure up the most deranged spin yet in response to the Internal Revenue Service admitting to undue scrutiny of tea party groups.
While many liberals have been critical of the Obama administration in the wake of the hardly surprising revelation, Schultz on his radio show yesterday was full-throated in his defense of the IRS -- even to the point of making the absurd claim that it showed how conservatives should support President Obama's plan to "simplify" the tax code. (Audio clips after page break)
Listen for yourself as Schultz makes this inane stretch of an assertion (audio) --
Look, if you play by the rules and if you do what you're supposed to do, an audit doesn't take very long. IRS agents are there for a reason. Am I defending the IRS? Yeah I am! I am, I am. I have been audited before, it wasn't any fun, but it was a necessary process once we got into it. They learned a lot about the way I do business, the way they do business, and it was good, OK? (Thank you sir, may I have another?!) I'm still alive, still here, still got my home, still got everything else. I mean, life is good. This is how we run the government. Now it's interesting, all of these righties who are out there upset about the actions of the Internal Revenue Service, are they going to dare side with President Obama who's wanted to simplify the tax code for a long time? Are you willing to start taking out all these corporate gifts out of the tax code, which of course, this is exactly what the Internal Revenue Service is doing! They're going after corporations and they're also going after groups that are set up after Citizens United to find out where the money is! To find out how they're expending! To find out what they're doing! (To find out if you're with us or against us!). So let's all get on board with the president who wants to simplify the tax code! (Or else!) Now they're bitching about being audited! Because the Internal Revenue Service has come out and said, well, you know, we, I guess we need to apologize because we have gone after some groups that have got the name patriot in them and also freedom fighters, whatever the hell it is! Look, all of these groups came up because of Citizens United. (Translation: they are fair game for intimidation). A lot of new rules went into place in the way they are operating, as different in the political climate. The Internal Revenue has every right to go after anybody in this country who collects a dime. (Especially if you dare describe yourself as a patriot).
Minutes later, Schultz doubled down on his Stalinist idiocy (audio) --
I mean, you know, there's a reason why the IRS came out and said what they said. Because somebody inside said, hey wait a minute, all right, we gotta police ourselves a little bit about how we're doing this. (Not that there's anything wrong with it). And the answer that professionally came back from some of the employees in the IRS was, well, we've got this new category because of Citizens United, we've got new groups propping up so all we did was categorize them (as tea baggers) and we did one group, then we started doing another one. And on the surface it looks like we're really going after 'em. (Looks like it deep down too). What the IRS does is that they target some (d'oh!), not target but categorize (for purposes of targeting) like small business, big corporations, individual S Corps, and they have, from my understanding, they have auditors in different sections that deal with different sections of the economy, you know, divorced couples, you know, couples filing jointly, (couples attending public gatherings on April 15), all that kind of stuff. They just don't say, hey Charlie, you take this one, I'll grab that one. I mean, there's different sections of the IRS and they do this for a reason. Well, there's more righty groups out there from Citizens United than there are lefty right now. And so they categorized them and they did the audits and now they're coming out apologizing for it. I don't think the IRS ought to apologize for anything! (Even after they admit they're wrong!). We got enough damn tax cheats out there the way it is! If we didn't have anybody cheating on their taxes, we might not have the problems we've got right now.
Unhelpfully but amusing nonetheless, two of Schultz's guests did not share his full-speed-ahead approval of IRS skullduggery. Here's what Sam Stein, White House reporter for the Huffington Post, had to say (audio) --
SCHULTZ: Sam, were you at the press conference today?
STEIN: I was not, but I was watching.
SCHULTZ: Whadya think?
STEIN: You know, it was a tough one for the president obviously, two very defensive questions for him. I thought he struck a, you know, the right tone with the IRS. Obviously it's, you know, no one is going to come to the IRS's defense on this. It seems like their actions were inappropriate. It seems like they're politically motivated. It's impossible to defend that if it ends up being true and I thought the president, you know, expressed enough outrage while saying we need to wait for further information to go even further than that. And all signs point to a few hearings and inquiries being done in Congress.
Clarification: No one is going to defend this aside from beyond-the-pale leftist on whose radio show I'm now appearing.
Stein's opinion was echoed by Schultz's next guest, Democratic strategist Bob Shrum (audio) --
And by the way, on the IRS story, when I say it's more damaging (to Obama than burgeoning scandal over Benghazi attack), there's not a scintilla of evidence that connects this to the White House, to the president's campaign. It was an idiotic decision (like you'd expect from Ed Schultz, for example), it was wrong (all the more reason it appeals to Schultz), made by somebody in the IRS (who Schultz wants promoted to senior management). Look, a lot of these organizations ought to be investigated, but the ideology shouldn't be the marker by which you judge who should be looked at.
Schultz's response to Shrum? Same as what he said, or more accurately, didn't say to Stein .... cue the crickets.
Even Rachel Maddow, Schultz's colleague at MSNBC, said on her show last night that "nobody" is defending the IRS (audio) --
But if you want to know why everybody has their hair on fire on this, left right and center, all the way up to the president, why the Republicans and the president himself are furious and nobody is defending what happened here at all, the history of worry and well-founded worry about the IRS being used for political reasons, that is why everybody's so upset.
Well, nearly everybody.