I was hoping there might be some interesting tidbits now that we can see the whole thing. Not really, though. Mainly, it paints a drearily predictable picture of bureaucratic FUBARism, with various groups in various places either misunderstanding each other; not responding to each other; or assuming that stuff was getting done that, in fact, wasn’t getting done. Anyone who reads Dilbert regularly gets the picture.
A typical letter looked like the one sent to the Ohio-based Liberty Township Tea Party—35 questions, most of them with multiple sections. Question 3: “Provide details regarding all of your activity on Facebook or Twitter.” Question 5 asked for biographies of “each past or present board member, officer, key employee, and members of their families,” to check whether any of these people might run for office, or might have filed a 501(c)(4) request for somebody else. Question 12 asked for a tally of all activity ever engaged in by the group, by percentage, adding helpfully that the “total of all activities should equal 100 percent.” Question 34 asked for “copies of articles printed or transcripts of items aired” if the Tea Party had been covered by the media.
Yesterday, Josh Marshall pinpointed one reason this story has legs:
If you wanted create a scandal to have maximal appeal to GOP base freakout, this is it. And it has the additional advantage of not creating the same sort of off-putting crazy as hitting other bugaboos beloved by base Republicans. It’s not about Obama’s ties to the Muslim brotherhood or his foreign birth. It’s about taxes, something everyone has an experience with and understands. And it’s at least rooted in something that’s true. Something really did happen. And it’s not good. It shouldn’t happen. It even has unexpected knock-on effects like the IRS’s supposed connection to the dreaded ‘Obamacare’.
That’s why you’re seeing Mitch McConnell go so full bore on this. He’s not particularly well-liked in his state and he’s not particularly well liked by Tea Parties or base Republicans. But now he can bang the drum on something that appeals deeply to these folks. He can now be with them cheek and jowl. And that is a very, very big deal. As can basically every other national Republican elected official.