Stephanie Cutter’s defense of former IRS commissioner undermines WH talking point
posted at 12:26 pm on June 5, 2013 by Guy Benson
Noted liar Stephanie Cutter is making the media rounds, furnishing Douglas Shulman with an alibi for many of those White House meetings he attended during President Obama’s first term — far more visits than most cabinet secretaries logged. Cutter insists that Shulman’s frequent presence at 1600 Pennsylvania isn’t the least bit “nefarious” because he was there to attend Obamacare implementation planning sessions. She knows this, she says, because she was in the room:
In response, Carol Platt Liebau makes an incisive point:
As everyone knows, Stephanie Cutter’s expertise is not primarily in the policy area; it is in the realm of politics: Political strategy and communications. She has been described by the Daily Beast as a partisan “pit bull.” Her job isn’t the nuts and bolts of governing. She is a political fixer. That’s why she was a Deputy Campaign manager for the President’s re-election. Given that’s the case, it’s far from clear why she would have been in meetings with Doug Shulman at all. The whole point of the IRS’ supposed “independence” is to insulate the agency from the influence and machinations of people exactly like Stephanie Cutter….Indeed, [the] time line and Cutter’s presence in the IRS meetings makes it more likely than ever that subtle political influence was wielded. Did anyone explicitly order Shulman to target conservatives? Probably not, because given the extent and type of contact he had with White House politicos, no explicit directive was needed. It seems likely that everyone understood each other just fine, and the IRS operated accordingly.
In her haste to douse one IRS/White House fire, Cutter has raised another set of questions. Why did Shulman meet repeatedly with one of the president’s most unapologetic and partisan attack dogs? Is it difficult to imagine the two of them discussing ways to help the president and hurt his adversaries? In any case, no one should be surprised by the new NBC/WSJ poll showing a solid majority of Americans agreeing that the IRS scandal casts doubt on this administration’s overall honesty and integrity. I’d submit that deploying (now-unofficial) spokespeople like Stephanie Cutter to help clear things up probably won’t help matters either. As for the Internal Revenue Service’s precious “independence” about which Jay Carney loves to prattle on, Watergate reporter Bob Woodward labels it a “fiction:”
UPDATE – Just to be clear, I’m not alleging that Cutter’s presence at these meetings with Shulman is smoking-gun proof of anything. She attended those in her capacity as a White House staffer, not as Obama’s Deputy Campaign Manager, a role she assumed later. I’m saying that Cutter’s reputation as a hardcore political operative proceeds her (dating back to Kerry ’04), so the fact that she was involved in regular discussions with the IRS commissioner doesn’t jibe with the White House’s preferred distancing mechanism (“the IRS is totally independent from us”).