May 10, 2013
The IRS building in Washington
(AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

So, the IRS, or at least some of the IRS, went after Tea Party groups. Republicans have been in search of a scandal for a while; this appears to be a real one.

It will be interesting indeed to see how everyone reacts:

  • The White House: Barack Obama and his administration haven’t really had to react to a scandal before. They’ve had mixed results in previous pseudo-scandals, sometimes jumping too quickly, sometimes hunkering down too much. We’ll see how they handle this one.
  • Other Democrats: Will they reflexively rally around the White House — or will they. as they should, condemn the actions and work hard to uncover all the facts, whatever they turn out to be?
  • Republicans: They’re absolutely within their rights to be outraged at the news. Will they do the hard work of digging out the facts — again, whatever they really are — or will they be content with just running to the GOP-aligned media and crowing that this confirms everything they’ve ever suspected about the Obama Administration?
  • The press: Probably more desperate for a real scandal than even the Republicans (who haven’t needed real scandals), will they maintain some bit of proportion, or will it be all-hype, regardless of the facts?

The big caution here: We have no idea whether this will turn out to have the substance of a major scandal, or just a relatively small outrage. After all, it’s very possible that the targeted groups were stretching the rule). As bad as the initial report sounds, there’s always the chance that there’s really nothing at all here — but there’s also, of course, no way of knowing if there’s far more to come. We’re certain to have Congressional hearings, and reporters are already swarming the IRS and anyone else who might know anything. That’s good! But we’ll know a lot more in a week or in a month — and as with all breaking stories, the odds of significant errors in early reports are high.