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Nick Wakeman

The tarring of John Koskinen

UPDATED: To correct Lois Lerner's title to director of exempt organizations.

It was probably 2003 or 2004 and I was riding the D.C. Metro and I saw John Koskinen holding onto the railing as the car rattled along.

The car was crowded, and I don’t know him, so I didn’t speak, but I looked around and saw just how anonymous he was there on the train.

I thought: Wow, these people don’t realize that they are riding along with the man responsible for saving us from the technological disaster of Y2K, the date field problem that had the potential to cripple computer systems when clocks clicked over to the year 2000.

Koskinen was the Y2K czar, the point man for the Clinton administration on the problem. He coordinated efforts of more than 30 federal agencies.

He did such a great job that many in hindsight scoffed that it was never a real problem. It was all hype, but it wasn’t; it was a real issue, and Koskinen was the chief driver of change.

Today, he is the beleaguered IRS commissioner, and I know he wouldn’t enjoy the same level of anonymity on the metro as he did that day I saw him 10 years ago.

I did a Google news search on his name and the headlines speak volumes about the partisanship that dominates today’s political discourse.

Top IRS official beats back Republican barrage – CNN

Koskinen typifies the arrogance of the regime – RushLimbaugh.com

Reminder: IRS Commissioner John Koskinen is major Democratic donor – Fox News

Rep. Paul Ryan accuses IRS Commissioner John Koskinen of lying – Daily News

Trey Gowdy tears into John Koskinen, teaches him a thing or two – Canada Free Press

Obviously, I don’t know what happened with the allegations of the IRS targeting conservative groups. The allegations cover a time under a different commissioner, not Koskinen, and involve Lois Lerner, now retired director of exempt organizations.

But the tone and tenor of the hearings are a stark example of how our political process has become more about making the other guy look bad and not about getting at some specific truth or forming a policy to move forward.

I guess you could say all hearings on political or controversial topics are like this, and that’s why I tend to ignore them. They don’t produce anything of real substance or value.

I was drawn into this one because of Koskinen and my memory of covering him in the late 1990s when he took on what seemed to be an insurmountable problem and won.

Koskinen’s reputation will survive the current beat down, I’m sure. The findings of the hearings will be political talking points for both sides of the aisle. Cooler heads will prevail eventually.

I just wish things getting there weren’t so ugly.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Jun 25, 2014 at 8:19 AM


Reader Comments

Fri, Jun 27, 2014

Perhaps the lack of humility on his part caused the tenor to become so hostile. Perhaps his failure to acknowledge that his earlier statements about Lerner's emails were misleading at best. Perhaps you should actually look into this rather than buying the administration's ridiculous tales.

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