Crisis managers can only cringe at the fallout that’s sent President Barack Obama into a defensive tailspin and his team scrambling to manage the fallout. The scandal would be tough to confront in the best of circumstances, but the agency’s poor management of the story is being blamed for deepening the sense of crisis gripping Washington.

“If it’s a minor league team, it’d be below single A. And you’re insulting the minor leagues,” said Lanny Davis, a former special counsel to President Bill Clinton who guided the administration through a series of second term campaign finance scandals…

Members of the ABA told POLITICO they were blindsided that their public forum — normally a place for polite questions for government staffers — ended up being used to air some of the IRS’s dirtiest laundry.

“We had no indication at all,” said Suzanne Ross McDowell, the chair of the ABA group on tax exemptions. “People were totally surprised by the question and even more surprised by the answer. IRS officials know how to deflect questions they don’t want to answer.”