The Vanish Inquisition

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Lois Lerner“Sometimes stuff just happens.”

Try using that excuse the next time you forget to pay your taxes. Lois Lerner seems to think it’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for thousands of missing emails from her IRS server — emails, Congress points out, that are crucial to the House’s investigation. If it’s good enough to get the IRS off the hook, then surely the “stuff happens” defense ought to work for taxpayers too.

As many as 24,000 messages have vanished in a series of quote-unquote “computer crashes” that — wouldn’t you know it? — only affected people involved in the conservative targeting scandal.

First, it was just Lois Lerner’s account that disappeared in this new Bermuda Triangle. Now, administration officials are changing their story, claiming the “hard-drive failure” that wiped Lerner’s emails also affected key stuff. “Plot lines in Hollywood are more believable than what we are getting from this White House and the IRS,” said a furious Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.), who heads up one of three committees demanding answers on the administration’s crackdown.

Apparently, we’re supposed to believe that the IRS, which keeps meticulous records of hundreds of millions of tax forms, somehow stopped backing up its files?

Attorney Cleta Mitchell doesn’t buy it. “I’ve had many, many emails from people around the country saying this is just not possible. This is not 1978. Those emails are not lost. They can be recovered… They are required under many court decisions and many federal statutes to retain information that would be discoverable and relevant on issues related to litigation.”

Among the AWOL emails are a string of messages from IRS Chief of Staff Nikole Flax crucial to the investigation.

Based on reports, Flax could be the missing link that implicates the Justice Department to the multi-agency conspiracy to silence conservatives. “Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa said Monday evening he believes she was the senior-most official involved… [Already, we know] Flax [was] giving the green light to Lerner’s request to meet with Department of Justice officials to explore the possibility of criminally prosecuted nonprofit groups.”

Of course, the question on most people’s minds (apart from the abject incompetence) is why the IRS didn’t report the files missing in the first place? If the agency knew about this problem for a year, what’s the point in covering it up? Why lie under oath — again?

In an administration that’s maxed out its crisis management office space, “stuff happens” is the stuff of arrogance. Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us 24,000 times? Even liberals will bristle. “Gross mismanagement,” said Democratic Congressman Sander Levin (Mich.). “Do you believe in the Easter Bunny?” mocked CNN’s John King.

Meanwhile, the White House, the same one that insisted there wasn’t “a smidgeon of corruption” at the IRS, is setting records in approval ratings — bad ones.

According to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC poll, only 41% support the President, tying the lowest mark ever. Interestingly enough, Americans arrived at this conclusion with only two major news channels covering the IRS email loss story. “If Joe Namath had the offensive line protection the media give Obama, he could have played 30 years in the NFL,” joked Ron Hart.

For now, House leaders will try to extract what cooperation it can from the President. If the IRS won’t provide communications, Rep. Camp says the White House must. But in this quest for justice, don’t expect any help from Attorney General Eric Holder. The only thing he’s interested in enforcing is the President’s agenda.