The Return of Witches of Elections Past

I was wondering when one of 2010’s greatest and most hilarious political flops, that of Delaware Tea Partier Christine O’Donnell, would emerge from her disproportionate drubbing for the Senate seat vacated by Vice President Joe Biden by Sen. Chris Coons (D).

Christine O'DonnellChristine O’Donnell is back, this time with a tale of political victimhood woe from the Internal Revenue Service. As House Grand Inquisitor Rep. Darrell “Grand Theft Auto” Issa (R-Calif.) can’t keep his anti-Tea Bagging accusation scandal balloon from deflating, here’s yet another ridiculous Republican slam at the oft-maligned tax man.

While a Treasury Department Inspector General staffer called Ms. O’Donnell to inform her of a possible breach of her personal tax information by an errant Delaware official, this was spun in Conservative conspiracy theory circles to blame the IRS. This is kinda like slapping the beach lifeguard for saving you from a shark attack.  Nobody said Tea Party ‘Murrica had to make sense. The tri-foil mad hatters are still struggling to spell.

The IRS and the states share taxpayer information. Nothing new or controversial there. The tax agency is very hard on its employees who troll personal and confidential tax information for gossip or political objectives.  We want to make sure that tax or other obligations are met to one agency before another agency hands out a fat refund.  Most of us want government agencies to share information and work together for the public good. We also want as much privacy as possible in this information age.

If a state official violated the privacy protections the IRS has in place over taxpayer information, that official should be shown the door, or at least sanctioned. It’s a near certainty that penalty would be applied to an errant IRS staffer. “Shooting the messenger” is not leadership.  We have come far as a nation since the hoary days of J. Edgar Hoover and the paranoid Nixon Administration “enemies” list.

Ms. O’Donnell gave us lots of laughs a few years ago, and put presents under the Christmas trees and Hanukkah bushes of late night comedy writers’ families.  The last time we saw her was in her Wizard of Oz costume at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner. No, she was not dressed as the witch.

Our tax code is complex, reflecting the world’s leading economy. It can and should continue to be thoughtfully streamlined and revised to improve fairness and compliance. Flogging the tens of thousands of Federal workers at the IRS for sport improves nothing. They have a vital and thankless job. Somebody has to collect the taxes which pay the nation’s bills.

Sorry, Christine, but your Warholian fifteen minutes of fame ran out years ago. Who’s next? Hapless Sharron Angle emerging from her “Second Amendment Remedies” bunker in the Nevada desert?