That the Internal Revenue Service has sunk even lower in the eyes of the general public over the past couple of weeks is no surprise to anyone who follows even mainstream news outlets.
No one likes the IRS, even for its designated function of dispassionately confiscating wealth and offering it up to the government for redistribution. But the idea that the agency is using its power to help the President’s friends and hurt his enemies gives a sharp new bitterness to what’s always been, for most people, a dull hatred.
A joint poll released Tuesday by ABC News and The Washington Post estimates that a majority of Americans blame the IRS hit job not on incompetence or administrative mistakes, but on deliberate targeting ordered by someone or coordinated by a group. Forty-five percent further believe that the Administration of President Barack Obama knows more about who’s to blame for all the discrimination than it’s telling.
What’s more surprising is the corresponding bump in the proportion of Americans who, according to a separate poll released Monday, approve of the Tea Party and its small-government message in the wake of the IRS scandal that gummed up the works (as Obama loves to say) for the conservative groups as they sought tax-exempt status.
Don’t expect the Tea Party to win any vapid mainstream popularity contests anytime soon. But the poll, conducted by CNN, saw public approval for the Tea Party climb from 28 percent only two months ago to 37 percent now — a number almost identical to the conservative movement’s all-time high in 2010.
The number of those who approve is still smaller than the proportion of Americans — 45 percent — who said they still have an unfavorable view of the Tea Party. But with the majority of Americans still getting their news from left-leaning and omissive mainstream media, it’s remarkable that the number’s not much higher — especially considering that both these polls were done by left-leaning and omissive mainstream media outlets.
But if lawsuits, such as the one filed this week against the IRS by a California Tea Party group, bring to light new evidence about who authorized the scandal and who was involved in covering everything up, the Tea Party movement could be welcoming — and educating — many more defectors from the partisan, business-as-usual political PR wars, as more and more regular Americans wake from their complicit indifference to the hidden crimes of the Obama Administration’s first four years.