Green Room

Stephanie Cutter’s defense of former IRS commissioner undermines WH talking point

posted at 12:26 pm on June 5, 2013 by

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:”

It’s not  ”overreaching” Republicans making these Obama-Nixon comparisons. It’s Woodward and Bernstein, who have some credibility on the subject matter.

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”).

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As for the Internal Revenue Service’s precious “independence” about which Jay Carney loves to prattle on

Independence: I don’t think that word means what the WH thinks it means.

Bitter Clinger on June 5, 2013 at 12:38 PM

So Cutter was there to tell them how to implement plans? That is what she is saying, why else would she be there, she is not a policy maker.

What a fool…

I would rather tell seven lies than make one explanation…Mark Twain

If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything…Mark Twain

right2bright on June 5, 2013 at 1:01 PM

You spin me right round, baby
Right round like a record, baby
Right round round round

antipc on June 5, 2013 at 1:18 PM

So she was in all 150+ meetings? If not, then how many? Why that claimed lower number, or even at all? What the F was she doing there, then, as she so helpfully admitted (as a political attack dog)?

Waiting for the media to ask this question…

Neo on June 5, 2013 at 1:24 PM

This is a total over-reaction! Stephanie Cutter happens to be an amateur brain surgeon. It’s only a hobby and she doesn’t have a license or anything but she claims she’s getting pretty good at it. She was in these meetings solely in her medical capacity to help with Obama-don’t-Care, and to hand out cards for a Spring lobotomy discount she was running.

[Need I insert a snark alert? Hopefully not.]

IndieDogg on June 5, 2013 at 1:48 PM

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”).

Who isn’t a hard core political operative in this Administration? You could argue the same thing about Shulman’s contact with anyone at the White House. Heck you could argue the same thing about him at home. His wife is a hardcore political operative.

When you are surrounded by left wing political people 24/7, this is what happens. Heck, he probably didn’t even realize he was doing anything wrong.

weaselyone on June 5, 2013 at 3:02 PM

Stephanie Cutter helped set up Obamacare? Well, no wonder it’s totally unworkable.

hawksruleva on June 5, 2013 at 3:18 PM

Val-Jar and Stephanie “The Carp” Cutter hauled out in the same week? Either someone in the WH is getting nervous or the WH intends to go Medieval on the Republicans’ collective ass – with the media obediently playing along. (Note how little time has passed since the media outrage over the DOJ and AP? It’s as if that never happened.)

natasha333 on June 5, 2013 at 5:10 PM

he was there to attend Obamacare implementation planning sessions. She knows this, she says, because she was in the room:

Who else was in these meetings and what exactly was said?

bitsy on June 5, 2013 at 5:58 PM

I think by “Obamacare implementation planning sessions” she actually meant “ruthless, unAmerican, plan to persecute our political opponent planning sessions”.

bitsy on June 5, 2013 at 6:02 PM