Friday, May 17, 2013

Don’t Go There

David Brooks tut-tuts the scandals.

It’s hard to tell now if the I.R.S. scandal is political thuggery or obliviousness. It would be one thing if the scandal is just a group of tax people targeting the most antitax groups in the country. That’s just normal, run-of-the-mill partisan antipathy.

It would be far worse if the senior workers of the I.R.S. have become so isolated by their technocratic task that they didn’t even recognize that using the search term “Tea Party” was going to be a moral and political problem. If that’s the case, then the members of the I.R.S. leadership are suffering from a tunnel vision that turns outside reality into abstractions. When government workers lose touch with the normal human context of their job, that’s when the real horror show commences.

Everyone is treating the I.R.S. issue as a bigger deal, but the Justice Department scandal is worse. This was a sweeping intrusion that makes it hard for the press to do its job. Who is going to call a journalist to report wrongdoing knowing that at some future date, the government might feel perfectly free to track the phone records and hunt you down?

I’m not going to be lectured on government overreach and unrestrained bureaucrats by someone who spent eight years cheering on the Bush administration, so don’t even try.