The Corner

A Few Words on the Fifth

The Fifth Amendment is sacred, or at least damn important, for hardware-store owners and government officials alike. And former government officials — like Lois Lerner.

But don’t you think government officials owe it to the public to explain what is going on, or has gone on, in government? Don’t you think government officials, and former government officials, owe us “transparency,” to use a buzzword?

I know that the Fifth Amendment applies as much to Lois Lerner as it does to the hardware-store owner. But no one forces you to run a division of the IRS, you know. You can open a hardware store (if you have the chops). And if you’re going to be a public servant, be one. Moreover, Congress has a duty to oversee the executive branch.

That’s enough ranting for now, but you get my drift.

P.S. Obviously, Elijah Cummings is playing the same role in the IRS investigation that John Glenn played in the China-fundraising investigation: the blocker. The preventer of discovery. The deep-sixer. Glenn was rewarded, it seemed to many, with a late-life trip into space. Cummings doesn’t want to suit up for that, does he?

P.P.S. In my lifetime, takers of the Fifth have been regarded as sacrosanct. But I’ve always thought, just because you have a right to do something, doesn’t mean I have an obligation to admire it.


The Latest