All of this was on display yesterday in her column titled This is No Ordinary Scandal. She comes out swinging with this opening statement:
We are in the midst of the worst Washington scandal since Watergate.Yeah, right. I thought the Republicans were going to work on that "overreach" thing. Guess not.
Of course she engages about the scandal trifecta the Republicans are insistent on exploiting...Benghazi, AP/DOJ and IRS. But its the latter that she really wants to focus on. And she gets pretty creative in ginning things up.
The IRS scandal has two parts. The first is the obviously deliberate and targeted abuse, harassment and attempted suppression of conservative groups. The second is the auditing of the taxes of political activists.What...you haven't heard about that second one? Peggy has examples for you. Four of them. Yes, four conservatives who have come forward to say that they had their taxes audited. And she claims that many more will come forward to say the same thing.
Riding in on his white horse to save the day is the man who so vexed the Republicans during the 2012 campaign by not scewing the polls towards a Romney win...Nate Silver.
The I.R.S. publishes data each year on the number of taxpayers it audits. In 2012, it conducted just shy of 1.5 million audits out of 144 million individual income tax returns...SLAP::BAM::BOOM!!!!!!
The point is, however, that even with no political targeting at all, hundreds of thousands of conservative voters would have been chosen for audits in the I.R.S.’s normal course of business. Among these hundreds of thousands of voters, thousands would undoubtedly have gone beyond merely voting to become political activists.
The fact that Ms. Noonan has identified four conservatives from that group of thousands provides no evidence at all toward her hypothesis. Nor would it tell us very much if dozens or even hundreds of conservative activists disclosed that they had been audited. This is exactly what you would expect in a country where there are 1.5 million audits every year.
It's a joy to belong to the side of this argument that has things like science, math and facts on our side ;-)
And while being ever-so-cordial in this Noonan take-down, Silver provides just a bit of "stick a fork in this one" at the end.
Ms. Noonan, and many other commentators, made a similar mistake last year in their analysis of the presidential election, when they cited evidence like the number of Mitt Romney yard signs in certain neighborhoods as an indication that he was likely to win, while dismissing polls that collectively surveyed hundreds of thousands of voters in swing states and largely showed Mr. Obama ahead.Take a bow, Mr. Silver.