When two storms collide, the weather gets hairy. For President Obama, the IRS and Benghazi stories converged this weekend for a self-inflicted tempest that threatens his credibility.
His people can't get their stories straight.
Internal Revenue Service officials denied for months the targeting of conservative political groups for reviews of their tax exempt status. With investigators poised to expose the chilling operation, a high-ranking IRS official acknowledged it late last week and apologized for it.
The agency blamed low-level employees, saying no high-level officials were aware. That appears to be untrue. The Associated Press reported Saturday that senior IRS officials knew agents were targeting tea party groups as early as 2011, according to a draft of an inspector general's report.
Politicizing the IRS threatens the integrity of an agency entrusted with Americans' secrets and the taxes that fund government. It also fuels the paranoia of conspiracy theorists.
"This is outrageous," said Democratic consultant Chris Kofinis. "The administration and the president need to condem this and act immediately. This is not a right-left issue."
Several other Democratic allies of the White House expressed similiar sentiments while refusing to be named out of fear of retribution. Kofinis, who specializes in political communications, said the White House needs to explain itself. "Your first response can't be to say the IRS is an independent agency," a claim the White House has made, he said.