Congressional hearings into news that the IRS singled out conservative political groups applying for tax-exempt status is either a tempest in a teapot or a tempest issuing from the mouth of a tyrannical socialist dragon, depending on which news outlet you read. Mitch McConnell says that the heightened scrutiny of Tea Party organizations reflects a “culture of intimidation” in the Obama administration, which is kind of a weird assertion in light of claims that the President also covered it up. As often happens in our brave modern news cycle, the question of what the IRS did has been elbowed aside by questions of who knew what about what the IRS did, whether what the president might have known they did constitutes an impeachable offense, and how “so many Americans knew this was happening,” as Sarah Palin claims. Now you can know what’s happening, too, simply by reading this 55-page report.
Tea Party icon and borderline fictional character Jim DeMint resigned from the Senate this morning, announcing that he would become the new head of the Heritage Foundation. South Carolina governor Nikki Haley will appoint his replacement, and the balance of votes in the Senate is not likely to change. The balance of weirdness, however, is badly shaken. In an unusually conservative GOP, DeMint was extremely conservative. Earlier this week, he attacked John Boehner’s compromise proposal in the fiscal cliff standoff—which most analysts agreed offered too little revenue to stand a chance at acceptance—for raising revenues too much. Then he resigned.
Shocking news yesterday: Rick Santorum has suspended his campaign for President. That in itself is not so shocking, but I still can’t believe that it happened before a sex scandal destroyed his personal life. As of this writing, I can only conclude that he has no personal life to destroy. Where a normal person would crusade against gay rights and contraception because he is raw-dogging it six days a week in the bathroom at Wal-Mart, Santorum seems to genuinely believe the words that emerge from his mouth. In this way, he was an anomaly in contemporary politics. I would say that he will be missed, except everything he said—sincere or no—was insane. It’s like if there were a bird that, instead of singing, made extremely realistic farting sounds at high volume, and then it became extinct.
A spokesman for the Cain campaign has told Politico that his candidate is “vaguely familiar” with allegations of sexually inappropriate conduct toward female employees during his tenure as head of the National Restaurant Association. Several of his staffers have issued similarly tepid denials since the story broke last night and—according to Politico—Cain himself responded to repeated direct questions by “breathing audibly” and finally saying, “Have you ever been accused of harassment by a woman?” It’s a classic defense, but it will only throw them off the trail for so long. It seems too early to say whether Cain invited a female employee into a closet to “sixty-nine. No, screw it—just nine.” Without more facts, we must presume that he is innocent, and that Politico made up a couple of employee complaints and an out-of-court settlement from 20 years ago before publishing a four-page story about it. We should also consider the possibility that this is real.