A follow-up to yesterday’s victim-blaming. Kelly, who was as angry as anyone at his “you don’t need to apply for tax exemption” shpiel, brought him on today to clarify. His clarification: He said repeatedly during the hearing that some of the IRS’s questions to tea-party groups were inappropriate, which is super but doesn’t really answer the criticism. If the government behaved inappropriately, why focus on the groups’ decision to apply for exemption in the first place? He’s basically accusing them of making a mountain out of a molehill, emphasizing that no matter how egregiously the IRS behaved, they couldn’t stop the groups from operating without tax exemption. They could still go out there and preach the tea-party gospel; they’d just have to do it, at least for awhile, without the benefit of 501(c)(4) status that liberal groups have comparatively little trouble obtaining. Tough it out, wingnuts. Presumably, if a high-school student applied for federal college loans and the application was held up for discriminatory reasons, McDermott would shrug and say, hey — no one’s stopping the kid from finding the tuition money elsewhere, right? Technically true, but waaay beside the point.

And of course, as Kelly notes, discriminatory processing of tea-party applications does affect how the groups operate. Some groups, fearful of IRS intrusiveness, won’t apply for exemption at all; some people thinking of starting a group might decide not to. The key bit here, via Twitchy, comes at around 2:40 when Kelly presses McDermott on what one witness said yesterday about losing out on a $30,000 donation because the group couldn’t obtain 501(c)(4) status in timely fashion. McDermott’s reply: How do we know that’s true? Testimony is testimony, but where’s the evidence? And that’s where we are this afternoon, with a top Democrat insisting he’s not blaming the victims while idly wondering if they’re lying to Congress, and whether maybe they should suck it up on the exemption process when liberal groups aren’t being asked to.