Axelrod, Plouffe: IRS scandal way too “stupid” to be political

posted at 10:41 am on June 3, 2013 by Ed Morrissey

This is no impromptu strategy for Barack Obama’s campaign wizard, David Axelrod, trotted out under fire on NBC’s Meet the Press yesterday.  Another Obama insider, David Plouffe, was sent to ABC’s This Week to make the same argument.  Axelrod and Plouffe both tried to brush off the IRS scandal as an unfortunate set of coincidences by arguing that a deliberate effort to punish conservatives through the IRS would be “the stupidest thing you could have imagined” (Axelrod) or “the dumbest political effort of all time.”  First, here’s Axelrod:

Representative Marsha Blackburn apparently thought Axelrod missed the point of the scandal. “The problem with this is, they were going after the conservative groups and not after liberal groups,” Blackburn said. “So there was a targeting mechanism that was built into that. And then individuals, conservative individuals that seem to be going after. It is the IRS using their position for political intimidation.”

“I think it was an idiotic thing to do,” Axelrod said. “But I will point you to the Inspector General’s report that said it wasn’t done for a political reason. They were flooded with applications.”

“That’s tough to swallow,” Republican strategist Ana Navarro said. “When you’re a Republican, it’s hard to swallow that it wasn’t done for political reasons, when the words chosen for target words were conservative, tea party…It’s very easy for your side to say it isn’t political. It’s very hard for our side to accept it when we’re the ones being targeted.”

“If there was somebody political involved in this, it never would have happened,” Axelrod said, “because it was the stupidest thing you could have imagined.”

And now Plouffe:

“Please,” Rove said. “[Crossroads'] leadership knew right from the get-go that they were going to be looked at, closely. So the laws and rules that the IRS has promulgated for decades were followed very closely by GPS for exactly that. They knew there was going to be extra scrutiny.”

“I think it’s the same problem with the left,” Huffington said.

“You know what?” Rove said. “You’re the first person I’ve heard on the left say that. These groups, 501(c)(4) groups, have been active for years on the Democratic side, on the liberal side, and there has been no criticism. There was no criticism from the left in 2000 when the NAACP voter fund spent $10 million to run an ad accusing George Bush of being a bigot. No concern on the left when Americans United for Change ran television ads targeting Republican senators up for reelection in 2007, 2008 over the Iraq surge!”

“Back in the prior administration,” countered former White House advisor David Plouffe, “the NAACP was investigated, after Republican members of Congress asked for it.”

“The Inspector General looked at this,” Plouffe continued, “and said there was no politics involved in this. No one has indicated, at all, that the White House was involved. The IRS Director, was appointed under President Bush, served under both presidents, testified. This was not a political pursuit.”

“Baloney,” Rove said. “If it was not political, why were only conservative groups targeted?”

“Liberal groups were targeted,” Plouffe said.

“Name one!” Rove screamed. “Name one! What liberal group had tea party or patriot in its name that it was targeted? Not a single liberal group has appeared to say—”

“You’re taking a broad license here, Karl. This was not an effort driven by the White House. It would be the dumbest political effort of all time.”

Jim Geraghty writes that the incompetence defense seems to be pretty popular in this administration, but that it’s nearly as effective as the White House seems to think:

Gentlemen… the “we’re stupid” excuse really isn’t as exculpatory as you think it is.

Actually, at least in this instance, Axelrod and Plouffe are arguing the opposite.  They are claiming in both appearances that political corruption at the IRS would be so stupid/dumb that no one in an administration would attempt it.  They both want people to believe that the problem here is lack of involvement by the White House is what created the situation at the IRS, because if the White House had been aware of it, they would have seen the political danger and put a stop to it immediately.

That, of course, depends on a couple of assumptions.  First, they’d have to assume they’d get caught.  So far, no one at the IRS or the White House seem prepared for that possibility, and their apologists are still out trying to make the case that this isn’t corruption at all.

But second is that politicians dont do stupid things even at the highest levels of government.  The last President who found himself in serious trouble over using the IRS to target political opponents was Richard Nixon.  Nixon ended up resigning after it came out that his administration was connected to a break-in at a Democratic campaign headquarters in Washington DC even though he was perched to win one of the largest landslides in presidential election history just a few months later, participated in a cover-up of the break-in, taped all of his Oval Office conversations, and kept the tapes.

Now, which of those actions wasn’t the stupidest/dumbest move of all time?

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76% of Americans want a Special Prosecutor appointed.

Three-quarters of U.S. voters want a special prosecutor to investigate the Internal Revenue Service’s targeting of Tea Party groups, according to a poll that showed a drop in President Barack Obama’s approval and trust ratings.

In the survey released today by Hamden, Connecticut-based Quinnipiac University, registered voters favored a special prosecutor by 76 percent to 17 percent. Those backing such a move included 63 percent of Democrats.

CBS News: Americans think IRS probe most important issue facing WH

Fox News poll: Most voters think the White House was involved in the IRS scandal in some way…

* 37 percent think the administration knew it was going on but didn’t initiate the policy

* Another 29 percent believe the White House directed the IRS to go after those groups

* Only 24 percent says the White House had absolutely nothing to do with what the IRS was doing

Resist We Much on June 3, 2013 at 12:42 PM

The talking points are out.

“If there was somebody political involved in this, it never would have happened,” Axelrod said, “because it was the stupidest thing you could have imagined.”

I heard a snippet on the radio this morning of one of the MSM execs who attended the Holder “off the record” session, and he said almost the exact same words as quoted above from Axelrod.

peski on June 3, 2013 at 12:47 PM

If stupidity indicates innocence. This administration is beyond reproach.

voiceofreason on June 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

The IRS, like the Cambridge police, acted stupidly.

Unlike the Cambridge police, they answer to the Executive branch of the Federal Government, led by Barack Hussein Obama II.

Exit question: Is Barack Hussein Obama II corrupt or stupid?

Steve Z on June 3, 2013 at 12:48 PM

I heard a snippet on the radio this morning of one of the MSM execs who attended the Holder “off the record” session, and he said almost the exact same words as quoted above from Axelrod.

peski on June 3, 2013 at 12:47 PM

[monotone voice] Axelrod is the kindest, bravest, warmest, most wonderful human being I’ve ever known in my life….

apostic on June 3, 2013 at 12:54 PM

It was political, it was aimed at conservatives and Republicans and Tea Partiers, but if they want to claim it was just a stupid tactic by a few rogue bureaucrats that they knew nothing about, then that reason alone is enough to fire all of them for incompetence. Starting with His Majesty Barack Milhouse Obama the First.

RebeccaH on June 3, 2013 at 12:55 PM

“We don’t know what’s going on and we’re stupid.” Does that about cover it?

apostic on June 3, 2013 at 12:55 PM

“because it was the stupidest thing you could have imagined.”

Levels of arrogance are directly proportional to acts of stupidity.

RadClown on June 3, 2013 at 1:08 PM

It was hardly ‘stupid’ – it was successful in keeping the Dear Liar in the oval orifice.

We know that this was a far reaching effort on the part of the regime.

An effort that would have consequences were dire if it were discovered at the wrong time.

The regime must have know the risk it was taking in order to swing the election – but they did it anyway.

The ‘stupid’ defense doesn’t cut it.

Galt2009 on June 3, 2013 at 1:13 PM

Ok, I’m confused yet again. Didn’t the woman in charge of all this just tell us nothing was wrong with any of this whatsoever?

If she’s right, how can obama’s most trusted advisors come out and say it was stupid? Aren’t they throwing her under the bus?

And why, if they’re so quick to tar this woman as a liar, is she staying silent on the subject (after her denials, of course)?

runawayyyy on June 3, 2013 at 1:15 PM

EPA Honoured Fake Employee Repeatedly And Named ‘Him’ A ‘Scholar Of Ethical Behaviour’

‘Smartest, most transparent administration evah!’

Resist We Much on June 3, 2013 at 1:25 PM

‘splain it to we the knuckledraggers

shorter
‘splain it to us Dave

Liars, one and all

… and for added sauce, our long gone crr6, no slight for our newfound crrr6

I have no idea, but I do know that you guys come up with really cool names for your fake scandals.

crr6 on July 10, 2011 at 1:24 PM

mickytx on June 3, 2013 at 1:35 PM

Considering their base and voters, I guess the “we’re idiots” defense is just as good as any.

kim roy on June 3, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Considering their base and voters, I guess the “we’re idiots” defense is just as good as any.

kim roy on June 3, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Just reinforcing their commonality with their base…”we’re stupid, just like you”

BobMbx on June 3, 2013 at 1:42 PM

“I think it was an idiotic thing to do,” Axelrod said. “But I will point you to the Inspector General’s report that said it wasn’t done for a political reason. They were flooded with applications.”

The IG testified that he conducted an ‘audit’ and not an actual investigation. He also said that the findings in his audit report were based upon interviewing IRS employees, that it was not sworn testimony by them and that no subpoenas were issued. Also, only IRS employees (not Treasury) were interviewed. Based upon the audit findings, he then went on to say there will be follow-up by the IG and that folllow-up could mean an actual investigation.

George’s report was not as comprehensive as Axelrod is implying and he would certainly like everyone to believe that the motive behind the IRS targeting has already been verified.

Issa should make it clear to the public that a formal investigation was actually never done.

lynncgb on June 3, 2013 at 1:47 PM

Considering their base and voters, I guess the “we’re idiots” defense is just as good as any.

kim roy on June 3, 2013 at 1:36 PM

Just reinforcing their commonality with their base…”we’re stupid, just like you”

BobMbx on June 3, 2013 at 1:42 PM

And yet when you deal with Proggies they incessantly tout their intellectual superiority.

It would seem like the Left would like to foster the myth that they are ‘Selectively Stupid’.

In most cases Leftists are the smartest people ever to inhabit the known universe….. except when it’s ‘convenient’ for them to be dumb as a fence post.

Galt2009 on June 3, 2013 at 1:57 PM

stupidity as an excuse; the perfect excuse for the stupid low info voter…

burserker on June 3, 2013 at 2:02 PM

In most cases Leftists are the smartest people ever to inhabit the known universe….. except when it’s ‘convenient’ for them to (admit to being) dumb as a fence post.

Galt2009 on June 3, 2013 at 1:57 PM

Fixed that one for you.

oldroy on June 3, 2013 at 2:03 PM

What’s next? Michelle wearing a ‘I’m With Stupid’ billboard the next time she travels with Barack.

ChuckinHouston on June 3, 2013 at 2:06 PM

I just figured something out. Issa said “paid liar” to pre-empt Obama tossing Carney under the bus as a “rogue liar.”

Nice.

MaxMBJ on June 3, 2013 at 2:11 PM

Clearly, the IG report is in error – or it’s incomplete. Time to recall Mr. George, the department’s inspector general, and question him a lot more closely on the huge gaps that are emerging the more we examine what happened, who did it, and who ordered it.

Drained Brain on June 3, 2013 at 11:44 AM

Or, Mr. George was ordered to omit certain “details” from his report.

It would seem that Mr.George does, indeed, have a LOT more questions to answer.

[Or, perhaps he just made a 'stupid' mistake and left a couple of pages out of the report he submitted.]

Solaratov on June 3, 2013 at 2:14 PM

I loathe these people. Justice will be served, eventually….
Dreaming on and all that….

I am remiss to even understand why they are who they are.

Steyn is excellent on Rush, today, as per usual.

For my new job, the same kind of incompetence exists.
Yay! **waving faint -dumb-ass- fingers–**

And it is only Monday, so simmer down impertinence.
;)

mickytx on June 3, 2013 at 2:39 PM

So based on past behavior I think this pretty much means the order came directly from Axelrod.

To understand people like Axelrod you have to understand the kids game of opposite world.

petunia on June 3, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Until I see evidence to the contrary, I think Axelrod and Plouffe were behind the IRS targetting of their political opponents! BOTH of these fellows have LIED directly to my face for years, so I have direct reason to suspect them!

Freddy on June 3, 2013 at 3:02 PM

“I think it was an idiotic thing to do,” Axelrod said. “But I will point you to the Inspector General’s report that said it wasn’t done for a political reason. They were flooded with applications.”

This is NOT what the IG report said. Serial liar is that Axelrod.

Freddy on June 3, 2013 at 3:05 PM

IOW…

“Hey, our Chicago crew would not have been this incompetent if we tried to do something like this. If we were behind something like this you would have never found out about it. So obviously it wasn’t political. It’s just some misunderstanding or something that got out of hand.”

Riiiiight, like politicians and political appointees never do anything stupid. I suppose the Watergate break-in wasn’t a stupid thing to do. I suppose lying to get a long term search warrant to monitor and read Rosen’s emails wasn’t a stupid thing to do.

Of course, in Chicago they never get caught because they make sure everyone involved benefits, everyone keeps their mouths shut — even the ones targeted (they know better), and the local media never bothers to ask any questions, let alone investigate. It is essentially a one party system.

farsighted on June 3, 2013 at 3:19 PM

“But I will point you to the Inspector General’s report that said it wasn’t done for a political reason.

Is that true?

Seems to me all the IG report says is nobody (when asked) admitted they did it for political reasons, therefore the report states “no evidence was found”. That’s different than concluding it was not done for political reasons.

Remember, these are the guys who argued there was “no evidence” of Benghazi being a terrorist attack.

taznar on June 3, 2013 at 3:22 PM

You guys can’t have it both ways. You say Watergate was worse and nothing could have been more stupid than a second rate burgulary in Democrat headquarters.

Herb on June 3, 2013 at 3:35 PM

Seems to me all the IG report says is nobody (when asked) admitted they did it for political reasons, therefore the report states “no evidence was found”. That’s different than concluding it was not done for political reasons.

taznar on June 3, 2013 at 3:22 PM

The IG stated in the hearing, that it was IMPOSSIBLE to have picked those terms for DESCRIMINATION without a POLITICAL AGENDA.

Axelrod is a LIAR.

Freddy on June 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

Oh how fun it would be to see him with hand cuffs on his hands and stuffed in a black and white.

That is the stuff dreams are made of.

Sadly in real life the bad guys get to make the rules and the rest of us suffer.

petunia on June 3, 2013 at 3:36 PM

… and the Watergate break-in and coverup didn’t happen because that would have been too stupid.

… and Bill Clinton didn’t have sex with that woman because that would have been too stupid.

… and Axelrod didn’t just make that argument, because that would have been too stupid!

topdog on June 3, 2013 at 10:57 AM

Exactly.

They are throwing every bit of crap at the wall they can find to see if anything sticks. Now it’s “this was so stupid we wouldn’t do it deliberately” and “GOP overreach!”.

farsighted on June 3, 2013 at 3:44 PM

Don’t you just love the implication that politicians as a whole comprise some sort of great brain trust?

natasha333 on June 3, 2013 at 3:58 PM

If this was so stupid, how did it go on for so long with so many people involved?

Didn’t anyone with any authority say, “this is stupid and we need to stop it”?

Just how many people in the bureaucracy acted stupidly and for how long?

Comrade O’s admin is now not only saying the massive federal bureaucracy so huge it is impossible for the WH to manage and control it, but it is also saying it can behave very stupidly on a large scale for a very long time before anyone does anything about it.

farsighted on June 3, 2013 at 4:08 PM

In most cases Leftists are the smartest people ever to inhabit the known universe….. except when it’s ‘convenient’ for them to be dumb as a fence post.

Galt2009 on June 3, 2013 at 1:57 PM

I like to save time and effort and go right to leftists are stupid as I will get there eventually anyways.

kim roy on June 3, 2013 at 4:12 PM

Obviously, there is a reason that Liberals always take the “Blue Pill” to continue to in the fantasy world.

ProfShadow on June 3, 2013 at 4:21 PM

Axelrod, Plouffe: IRS scandal way too “stupid” to be political

I love how they actually believe “stupid” and “political” are contradictory…

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 3, 2013 at 5:01 PM

EPA Honoured Fake Employee Repeatedly And Named ‘Him’ A ‘Scholar Of Ethical Behaviour’

‘Smartest, most transparent administration evah!’

Resist We Much on June 3, 2013 at 1:25 PM

To be fair, the fake employee has never been in trouble with the law before….

There Goes the Neighborhood on June 3, 2013 at 5:04 PM

The Chicago master of ‘razzle-dazzle’ misdirection, deflection & denial. All them lies & sleaze we hear daily from the Democratic scum bags, who arrogantly feel that there’s nothing to fear. Axlerod hold the patent.

RdLake on June 3, 2013 at 6:31 PM

GD liars!

Fed up with this sht!

Sherman1864 on June 3, 2013 at 7:15 PM

Its like being at a Gallegher concert. You need umbrellas, plastic sheeting, and whatever else you can find to cover up so we all don’t drown in the $h!t that spews from their mouth.

hamradio on June 3, 2013 at 7:54 PM

We’ll see how ” stupid ” it seems when victims of this civil rights violation begin to testify in the open about how ” stupid ” it was coordinated between washington DC and the rest of the IRS employees.

TX-96 on June 3, 2013 at 8:43 PM

Axelrod’s greasy. Greasy, creepy, greasy.

Lourdes on June 3, 2013 at 8:58 PM

Axelrod’s greasy. Greasy, creepy, greasy.

Lourdes on June 3, 2013 at 8:58 PM

…he fits right in!

KOOLAID2 on June 3, 2013 at 10:39 PM

Don’t you just love the “Press” taking them at their word and standing by like innocent bystanders while actively pushing Obomwa’s meme…?

… This third world banana republic gets better by the day.

Seven Percent Solution on June 3, 2013 at 10:44 PM

Hey cut them some slack. It’s not like they’ve ever needed a plausible story before now. And if they can their MSM buddies will help them escape this one too.

bluesdoc70 on June 3, 2013 at 11:03 PM

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