The scandals involving The Associated Press and the IRS have deeply eroded the credibility of the Obama White House, former presidential speechwriter Peggy Noonan said on Thursday.
The scandals “have left the administration’s credibility deeply, probably irretrievably damaged,” Noonan said in a column in The Wall Street Journal. “They don’t look jerky now, they look dirty. The patina of high-mindedness the president enjoyed is gone.
“Something big has shifted,” Noonan added. “The standing of the administration has changed. As always, it comes down to trust.”
Noonan, who served President Ronald Reagan, said that Obama, “as usual, acts as if all of this is totally unconnected to him. He’s shocked, it’s unacceptable, he’ll get to the bottom of it. He read about it in the papers.
“But he is not unconnected, he is not a bystander,” she said. “This is his administration. Those are his executive agencies. He runs the IRS and the Justice Department.
“A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is to too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads, too.”
She called the Internal Revenue Service scandal the more serious of those engulfing Obama.
“This was more systemic. It was an operation. The word was out: Get the Democratic Party’s foes,” she said.
Noting some of the conservative groups that said they had been targeted by the agency, Noonan added: “Many of these stories will come out, but not as many as there are. People are not only afraid of being audited, they’re afraid of saying they were audited.
“What happened at the IRS is the government’s essential business,” Noonan emphasized. “The IRS case deserves and calls out for an independent counsel, fully armed with all that position’s powers. Only then will stables that badly need to be cleaned, be cleaned.
“Everyone involved in this abuse of power should pay a price, because if they don’t, the politicization of the IRS will continue — forever. If it is not stopped now, it will never stop.
“And if it isn’t stopped, no one will ever respect or have even minimal faith in the revenue-gathering arm of the U.S. government again.”
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