Lois Lerner was the primary target of the phony "IRS scandal." The feeding frenzy that erupted after the inspector general's report was released included Republicans, Democrats, members of the House and Senate, the speaker of the House, and the president of the United States.
All of these people need to apologize to her. All of them. In order of prominence, it should begin with the president of the United States. As he did with Shirley Sherrod, President Obama pre-emptively fired his acting IRS commissioner.
In order of egregiousness of their comments, the apology should begin with the speaker of the House, John Boehner ("I don't want to know who is going to be fired, I want to know who is going to jail").
In order of the accuser's pattern of behavior, the apologies should begin with Darrell Issa (R-CA).
Each member of Congress who criticized Ms. Lerner for doing her job should march to the well of the House or Senate and issue an apology.
The lamestream media was, of course, highly complicit by immediately affixing the "scandal" moniker, and then not abandoning it for weeks, long after it was shown that the whole thing was phony. Without commenting on its absurdity, the media also carried the "testimony" of Tea Party members claiming they had god given rights -- to donor anonymity? To tax exemption?
Not everyone, however, got it wrong.
At least two of us got this right from the outset. While politicians and the media were falling over themselves to declare "outrage," I immediately expressed grave doubts that anyone had done anything wrong and suggested the real scandal was unlimited anonymous tax-free campaign money, and Dave Johnson wrote a trenchant piece showing that the inspector general's report was misrepresented and how the right-wing media/lamestream media create instant conventional wisdom.
Lawrence O'Donnell also brilliantly weighed in by pointing out that the rules under which the IRS was operating since 1959 to determine 501(c)4 status constituted a clear misreading and relaxation of the law Congress had written in 1954.
I then called for the president to instruct the Treasury secretary to instruct the IRS Commission to change the regulation on 501(c)4 back to the way Congress originally wrote it, ending donor anonymity so that, with a stroke-of-the-pen, an important part of campaign finance reform will have been achieved with a stroke of the pen.
But, all the big cheese got it wrong, completely wrong.
If I were Lois Lerner and some of the other maligned IRS officials, I would sue for libel -- the media, any member of Congress who spoke on this outside the floor of Congress (where the Constitution grants them immunity) -- for monetary and exemplary damages.
Apologies to Lois Lerner from the speaker, Issa, the president, a stream of Republicans and Democrats from Congress, and the media would indeed be the 'mother-of-all-apologies.'
She deserves it.