Liberals, whose unvarying agenda is enlargement of government, suggest, with no sense of cognitive dissonance, that this IRS scandal is nothing more sinister than typical government incompetence.
Five days before the IRS story broke, Obama, sermonizing 109 miles northeast of Cincinnati, warned Ohio State graduates about "creeping cynicism" and "voices" that "warn that tyranny is . . . around the corner."
He stigmatizes as the vice of cynicism what actually is the virtue of skepticism about the myth that the tentacles of the regulatory state are administered by disinterested operatives.
And the voices that annoy him are those of the Founders.
Time was, progressives like the president 100 years ago, Woodrow Wilson, had the virtue of candor:
He explicitly rejected the Founders' fears of government. Modern enlightenment, he said, made it safe to concentrate power in Washington, and especially in disinterested executive branch agencies run by autonomous, high-minded experts.
Today, however, progressivism's unambiguous insinuation is that Americans must be minutely regulated because they are so dimwitted they will swallow nonsense.
Such as: There was no political motive in the IRS targeting political conservatives.
Episodes like this separate the meritorious liberals from the meretricious. When the IRS story broke, The Washington Post led the paper with it, and, with an institutional memory of Watergate, published a blistering editorial demanding an Obama apology.
The New York Times consigned the story to page 11 (its Page One lead was the umpteenth story about the end of the world being nigh because of global warming).
Through Monday, the Times had expressed no editorial thoughts about the IRS. The Times' Monday headline on the matter was: "IRS Focus on Conservatives Gives GOP an Issue to Seize On."
So that is the danger.
If Republicans had controlled both houses of Congress in 1973, Nixon would have completed his term. If Democrats controlled both today, the Obama administration's lawlessness would go uninvestigated.
Not even divided government is safe government, but it beats the alternative.
George Will may be reached by email at georgew...@washpost.com.