We tweeted the following in response to story that had the former IRS commissioner, Douglas Shulman, visiting the White House 157 times during the Obama administration. This is in stark contrast to Shulman's predecessor, Mark Everson, visiting the White House just once during his four years of service during the G.W. Bush administration.
A longer explanation would be that we don't really feel there was any co-ordinated effort orchestrated by the White House for the IRS to target and harass conservative and tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status.
In a political context, a dog whistle is two-pronged speech: There is what is said and what is inferred, particularly to a target audience. During his first term, the President and several people in his inner circle made absolutely unprecedented attacks on private citizens, Rush Limbaugh and Fox News and warned of "shadowy" money that was unduly influencing the democratic process.
Or as the Wall St. Journal explained (h/t: WCVarones):
Mr. Obama didn't need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he'd like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.
Dogwhistle. It doesn't take a behavior psychologist to surmise that once the verbal cues from the administration went out, politically-motivated folks in the IRS and other government agencies went to work.
But is that assumption correct?
Now, we realize that having a statist/collectivist in the White House would prioritize his visitors much differently than we would (hell, his entire re-election campaign revolved around his obsession to make an already progressive tax code even more progressive with his inane bleating of making sure everybody is "paying their fair share) but 157 times? Good lord. As we have taken to saying, those conspiracy de-bunkers out there are going to have to do a lot better than this to keep us righties from over-heating in the fever swamps.
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Of course, Shulman can't recall what they talked about, selective amnesia and just pure unknowingness being a hallmark of this administration (to the extent that the President has claimed to not know much about anything, one gets the sense they keep sharp objects away from him in the White House. Can't be hurting himself with unseemly information).
157 known visits to the White House amidst targeting and harrassing of conservative and tea party groups.
Occam's Razor: a scientific and philosophic rule that entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily which is interpreted as requiring that the simplest of competing theories be preferred to the more complex or that explanations of unknown phenomena be sought first in terms of known quantities.
i.e. it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure what most likely happened here.
Of course, rudder orders from on high and acting upon dog-whistle cues are not exclusive to one another as there's nothing like covering one's bases to ensure a re-election.
* Naked DC has a must-read round-up of what they have coined "Scandalabra" and we are more than happy to run with that term du jour. Go for the photoshops, stay for the writing.