Whether or not the Internal Revenue Service broke the law in harassing conservative political groups "is irrelevant," White House senior adviser Dan Pfeiffer recently told a reporter.
Pfeiffer elaborated on the point, insisting that what is important is for President Barack Obama to ensure such abuses never occur again.
Clearly, then, Obama's strategy is to slap a few IRS officials on the wrists, perhaps suggest to a few, as he has, that they should resign - and hope the scandal simply goes away.
It will not.
It is illegal to use the IRS against one's political opponents. That was clearly and admittedlly done by some employees in the agency, quite possibly in reaction to Obama's oft-repeated insistence that those who oppose him are, somehow, evil - and should not be tolerated.
Remember, many of the crimes committed by aides to disgraced former President Richard Nixon were not at his specific direction. They were reactions to Nixon's repeated hints about getting tough with opponents.
The IRS scandal may well be a similar scenario.
Pfeiffer is wrong and he knows it. Those responsible for using the IRS to harass political foes should be prosecuted.