George Will: If Bush Had IRS Going After Progressives 'We Would Have All Hell Breaking Loose'
Friday's revelation that the Internal Revenue Service targeted conservative groups prior to last year's elections was certainly reported but not with nearly the outrage as if a Republican administration went after liberals this way.
Driving home the point, George Will just before reading from the Impeachment Articles of Richard Nixon said on ABC's This Week Sunday, "If the George W. Bush administration had IRS underlings, out in Cincinnati of course, saying, 'We're going to target groups with the word progressive in their title,' we would have all hell breaking loose" (video follows with transcript and commentary):
MARTHA RADDATZ, SUBSTITUTE HOST: I want to start with you George Will and the IRS. What a week, the IRS, look at these headlines. IRS targeted tea party groups for scrutiny. Searching words like "patriot," "tea party." Does this sound like a familiar story to you George Will?
GEORGE WILL: Mr. Hicks when he was in Libya said his jaw dropped at the explanation back here. This was a job dropping moment. In response to a question at an American Bar Association convention, a second level IRS person said, oh yeah by the way, we did target these people. Not progressives.
RADDATZ: Which apparently they've known about for a while.
WILL: Oh the Tea Party people have known about this and have been working on this.
RADDATZ: And the IRS.
WILL: But they said a) it was inadvertent. It was just some odd underlings out in Cincinnati who did this. And there was no political motive whatever involved. Now the question is, how stupid do they think we are? Just imagine, Donna Brazile, if the George W. Bush administration had IRS underlings, out in Cincinnati of course, saying, "We're going to target groups with the word 'progressive' in their title," we would have all hell breaking loose.
May I read you something from an ancient document?
RADDATZ: Yes you may. I would be surprised if you didn't.
WILL: This is the 40th anniversary of the Watergate summer here in Washington. "He has through his subordinates and agents endeavored to cause in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be initiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner." Section 1, Article 2, the Impeachment Articles of Richard Nixon.
Not surprisingly, Brazile pushed back on this saying, "I think it would be irresponsible to start talking about impeachment over this."
You think that would have been her position if Bush had done this to progressives?
Despite media adoration of Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein's crowning achievement, those that have been willing to ridicule the administration for what it did in this matter have mimicked Brazile's view of impeachment.
That isn't to say that this is grounds for such a proceeding or that this was Will's point.
Instead, it's an example of how differently crises are reported and dealt with depending on the Party in power.
When it's Republicans, the press are the prosecuting attorney. When it's Democrats, they're the defense.
We're also seeing this play out with how the media up until recently viewed the administration's handling of Benghazi.
It's only now that they feel they were lied to that they've begun to report the inconsistencies - and now that the truth can't impact Obama's reelection chances.