A letter sent from the Treasury inspector general to Rep. Sandy Levin of Michigan will undermine the argument that progressive organizations were subject to the same undue scrutiny from the Internal Revenue Service as Tea Party groups. And that's too bad, because the IRS scandal, such as it is, has become a tar pit of futility, an endless game of darts in which the winner is the first to score infinity points.
Everyone in Washington agrees that the IRS' tax-exempt division should not have singled out groups with the words "Tea Party" in their names for special scrutiny when considering their applications. Everyone. Everyone on Capitol Hill, at the White House, at the IRS. This happened from the outset, in fact, when Congressional Republicans blasted the findings in a report from the inspector general, J. Russell George, and their Democratic colleagues quickly joined in. The new head of the IRS, Danny Werfel, repeatedly criticized the agency's behavior.
That unanimity left little room for political posturing, so the debate became about minutiae. Rep. Darrell Issa and his Democratic colleague on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, started scrapping over transcripts of interviews with agents involved in the targeting. Issa's goal was to stretch a line from the agents to Obama; Cummings' was to put the whole thing to bed. Neither effort worked.