Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

There Is No There There?

by Victor Davis Hanson

NRO’s The Corner

Senator Harry Reid may be right that we should wait for the full sordid details before demanding resignations from an increasingly politicized and now apparently confessional IRS (yet the proof of the pudding is that groups such as Media Matters, Think Progress, Moveon.org, and Organizing for America don’t seem to be the sorts subject to unusual IRS scrutiny), but he has lost all moral authority to pontificate about restraint in matters of the IRS — given that based on no evidence whatsoever (other than a supposedly anonymous tip) he serially charged that Mitt Romney had not paid his proper income taxes. Such reckless charges (Reid bragged of himself as “a one-man wrecking crew”) were proven wrong and yet never withdrawn. In the aftermath of these most recent IRS disclosures, it seems legitimate to wonder how administration officials such as Austan Goolsbee were so sure about the nature of the Kochs’ private tax returns, or Reid so adamant about what was supposed to be on Romney’s equally private IRS return.

Obama persists in the narrative that confusion and the fog of war made clear knowledge about Benghazi impossible for days after the attack. If this were true, in the immediate aftermath of the attack he would have shrugged his shoulders and pled that we had no idea of the nature of the perpetrators. But that is not what the president, Ambassador Rice, Secretary of State Clinton, and Jay Carney did. Instead for weeks after the attack they were obsessed with Mr. Nakoula, the supposed culprit for the apparently understandably provoked attack by spontaneous demonstrators. Even this January, Ms. Clinton was referencing a spontaneous catalyst, claiming that it made no difference whether the attackers were demonstrators or random guys on the street, as if those two false alternatives exhausted the possible scenarios.

I think that after the president’s advisers review the text of his press conference, they will conclude that he only made things worse on Benghazi. Channeling Getrude Stein (“no there there) is about as inane as it gets (and probably misinterpreted what Stein was trying to convey).

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About Victor Davis Hanson

Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow in Residence in Classics and Military History at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, a professor of Classics Emeritus at California State University, Fresno, and a nationally syndicated columnist for Tribune Media Services. He is also the Wayne & Marcia Buske Distinguished Fellow in History, Hillsdale College, where he teaches each fall semester courses in military history and classical culture.

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