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After the IRS was confirmed to be delaying the tax-exemption requests of conservative groups at a far greater rate than their liberal counterparts, the agency’s director, Douglas Shulman, stepped down at the end of his term. His replacement, acting commissioner Steven Miller, subsequently resigned from the agency.

The IRS official in charge of tax-exempt decisions, Lois Lerner, invoked her Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination before Congress. She and Joseph H. Grant, commissioner of the Tax Exempt and Government Entities Division, both abruptly retired from the IRS.

Congressional committees and the Treasury inspector general for tax administration found that groups loosely associated with the Tea Party were more likely to have their tax-exempt requests put on hold than other nonprofits.

Yet recently, Mr. Obama concluded of this entire mess that it did not entail “even a smidgen of corruption.”

It takes Orwell’s doublethink to explain how a scandal might have rated an “outrageous” before the people in charge quit, retired or invoked the Fifth Amendment, and then, after their embarrassing departures, was reinvented as an episode without a smidgen of corruption.

In politics, of course, the left and right, conservative and liberal, make up stuff. But Orwell, who also blasted the rise of European fascism, focused more on the mind games of the statist left.

Why? He apparently feared that the left suffered an additional wage of hypocrisy in more openly proclaiming the noble interests of “the people.”

Because of those supposedly exalted ends of equality and fairness, statists were more likely to get a pass from the media and public for the scary means they employed to achieve them.

Right now in America, the words and deeds of both past and present become reality only when the leaders put them in the correct service of the people.

Victor Davis Hanson is a classicist and historian for the Hoover Institution at Stanford University.