John Feehery: Speaking Engagements

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Jedi Mind Trick Fail

Posted on June 13, 2013
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The Ranking Member of the House Government and Oversight Committee tried to channel is inner-Alec Guinness the other day, but he failed spectacularly.

Elijah Cummings, the Maryland Democrat, tried to pull one over on the American people earlier this week.  Here is how the Wall Street Journal’s John McKinnon put it:

“Earlier this week, the top Democrat on the committee, Rep. Elijah Cummings (D., Md.), said he’s ready to drop the matter, following an interview on Thursday of an employee in the Cincinnati office that oversees handling of tax-exempt applications. The employee, who was a manager at the time, said the scrutiny started in early 2010 with an agent who noticed a single tea-party application come in, and flagged it for closer review. The manager “agreed that the case should be forwarded up the chain to technical officials in…Washington…and he did so,” according to a Democratic staff memo that Mr. Cummings’s office released on Sunday.  Mr. Cummings says that means the idea for scrutinizing tea-party cases came from Cincinnati workers, and not Washington higher-ups or the White House.


“Based upon everything I’ve seen, the case is solved,” Mr. Cummings said on CNN on Sunday. “And if it were me, I would wrap this case up and move on, to be frank with you.”


This reminds me of that great Star Wars scene, when Obi Wan Kenobi tells a Storm Trooper, “there is nothing to see here,” and the Storm Trooper tells his colleagues “there is nothing to see here,” when trying to get Luke Skywalker out of a terrible jam.

Cummings was trying to do that with the IRS scandal, telling the media that the case was closed, essentially that there was nothing to see here.

But it didn’t work, and Cummings had to acknowledge last night that the case was not closed and that further investigation is probably necessary.

Government Reform and Oversight Chairman Darrell Issa played the role of Count Dooku, telling Cummings that “your Jedi Mind tricks won’t work on me.”   And they didn’t.

Issa’s team hammered the Ranking Member mercilessly until he was forced to acknowledge a basic fact.  This case is not in any way closed.

This is not the first time that key Democrats have tried to brush these scandals under the rug.  The President’s top political mastermind, David Plouffe said last week:  “The question is, is that all Congress is going to do? Are we just going to be obsessed with scandal and trying to score political points, or the American people could not be screaming any more loudly, ‘Worry about us.’ ‘Work on the economy.’”

The problem for Plouffe and for Cummings is that we can’t really get to work on the economy if people completely distrust their government, if citizens are worried about an IRS that is out of control, if voters are panicked that the government will devalue the currency by spending like drunken sailors and then refusing to pay the bills.

Trust in the government is an essential component of long-term fiscal and economic health, and if we don’t have it, we won’t get it.

And we won’t get it if the Democrats continue to try to pull Jedi Mind tricks on the press and the people.  We don’t need tricks.  We need transparency.