Character is one of those seemingly old-fashioned virtues that people mention every now and then. It sounds like something we all should have, but it doesn’t seem relevant to everything. The events of the past few weeks show that it is.
Peggy Noonan posted an article in the Wall Street Journal this weekend about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal. The article details some of the facts of the IRS treatment of conservative groups–including the leaking of donor information for the National Organization for Marriage. That organization did its own computer forensic investigation and determined that the leak of donor information came from the IRS. Since that discovery, the IRS has stonewalled the investigation.
The article is very interesting in the examples it gives and the conclusions it reaches–I strongly suggest that you follow the link above and read the entire article.
The closing paragraph of the article says it all:
Finally, this week Russell George, the inspector general whose audit confirmed the targeting of conservative groups, mentioned, as we all do these days, Richard Nixon‘s attempt to use the agency to target his enemies. But part of that Watergate story is that Nixon failed. Last week David Dykes of the Greenville (S.C.) News wrote of meeting with 93-year-old Johnnie Mac Walters, head of the IRS almost 40 years ago, in the Nixon era. Mr. Dykes quoted Tim Naftali, former director of the Nixon Presidential Library and Museum, who told him the IRS wouldn’t do what Nixon asked: “It didn’t happen, not because the White House didn’t want it to happen, but because people like Johnnie Walters said ‘no.’ “
That was the IRS doing its job—attempting to be above politics, refusing to act as the muscle for a political agenda.
Man—those were the days.
This whole scandal could have been avoided if someone with character had stood up and said, “No, I won’t do that.”