Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell addressed the conservative American Enterprise Institute on Friday to update a warning he issued at the same venue one year ago about President Obama’s supposedly anti-free speech administration.
But the subtext was actually quite different: McConnell effectively acknowledged to disappointed conservatives that recently revealed IRS malfeasance probably wasn’t the consequence of any direct action taken by the White House.“There might be some folks out there waiting for a hand signed memo from President Obama to Lois Learner to turn up,” he said, referring to conservatives and Republicans who have charged that the IRS was following White House instructions when it targeted conservative non-profits. “Do not hold your breath.”
These remarks were extemporaneous — they did not appear in the prepared text of his speech.
McConnell theorizes that the IRS’ actions were an almost inevitable consequence of a “culture of intimidation” Democrats have fostered throughout the government — a view a number conservative pundits have propounded. But even if the theory had merit, it’s not the sort of “scandal” that comes with a smoking gun or any real recourse for the political opposition. And McConnell more or less copped to it.
“I am prepared to say, and did say today, that the President and his political allies encouraged this kind of bureaucratic overreach by their public comments,” he said. “But that’s quite different from saying they ordered it.”