Thank you Joel Achenbach for cutting through this week's crap over what senior IRS officials knew or didn't know about a few low-level folks in Cincinnati. Congressional lawmakers who are clearly incapable of carrying out their own jobs morphed into schoolyard bullies during the testimony of IRS official Lois Lerner, who was forced to take an administrative leave the next day. There is no evidence so far that Lerner did anything wrong, but as Achenbach writes, "the moment someone says they have done nothing wrong is when the presumption of guilt hardens into an incontrovertible fact of guilt, with only the punishment left to be decided." Here's more from the Washington Post:
Conservatives and liberals alike should understand why someone like Lois Lerner might want to take the Fifth with a criminal probe going on and not a friend in sight. And you might understand why she would want to stare down a House panel and say, emphatically, "I have not done anything wrong." The people I know in government staff jobs and civil service positions are dedicated and honest. Most of them could make more in the private sector. You can't buy one of these people a sandwich without running up against conflict-of-interest rules. Is our country being ravaged and undermined by out-of-control bureaucrats? Some people would say yes. But mistakes and misbehavior permeate all enterprises, and I'd like to remind everyone that in 2008 our friends on Wall Street managed - with the help of exotic securities that they'd invented and sliced and repackaged and swapped to the point that no one knew what they were really worth - to CRASH THE GLOBAL ECONOMY. So it's the bureaucrats we're worried about? We shouldn't shrug when someone does something really stupid, nor should we give people the benefit of the doubt to the point that we lose the ability to mete out repercussions. But neither should we sacrifice civil servants for the sake of short-term political optics.