Reader J sends along Glenn Reynolds’ USA Today column:
At a tax symposium at Pepperdine Law School last week, former IRS chief counsel Donald Korb was asked, “On a scale of 1-10 … how damaging is the current IRS scandal?”
His answer: 9.5. Other tax experts on the panel called it “awful,” and said that it has done “tremendous damage.”
I think that’s right. And I think that the damage extends well beyond the Internal Revenue Service. In fact, I think that the government agency suffering the most damage isn’t the IRS, but the National Security Agency. Because the NSA, even more than the IRS, depends on public trust. And now that the IRS has been revealed to be a political weapon, it’s much harder for people to have faith in the NSA.
Glenn lives in a world where the IRS scandal is “current”, and the arbiter of the importance of the scandal is George W Bush’s chief IRS counsel. If you live there, too, then you’ll buy this:
Spend a little while on Twitter or in Internet comment sections and you’ll see a significant number of people who think that the NSA may have been relaying intelligence about the Mitt Romney campaign to Obama operatives, or that Chief Justice John Roberts’ sudden about-face in the Obamacare case might have been driven by some sort of NSA-facilitated blackmail.
A year ago, these kinds of comments would have been dismissable as paranoid conspiracy theory. But now, while I still don’t think they’re true, they’re no longer obviously crazy. And that’s Obama’s legacy: a government that makes paranoid conspiracy theories seem possibly sane.
On this theory, Obama is responsible for every person who’s been hospitalized in a psychiatric unit since January 20, 2009. This would be nutpicking if it weren’t published in USA Today.