Doesn't it seem stupid to avoid using keywords when given a sorting task that is helped by keywords? Those Internal Revenue Service bureaucrats were presumably locating applications from organizations that might be "too political" to qualify for exemption from taxes and donor reporting. It seems stupid to ignore the public face presented by organizations in their choice of name.
If those functionaries had always searched on multiple terms (Republican or Democrat or Tea Party), it would have been harder to complain about their resulting list.
Unfortunately, there were not (I assume) any applications with Democrat or Republican in their name. Who would be that stupid when applying for a privilege that explicitly depends on being "nonpolitical"?
A supervisor instructed people to stop using Tea Party searches, etc., but after a few weeks, the advice didn't stick -- no doubt because that advice, itself, seemed anti-functional and therefore stupid. No one properly emphasized the need to remain politically correct. The supervisor should have given a restricted permission: Searching on the set of terms, including the useless ones, would have undercut so much of the subsequent criticism.
The upshot of the apparent targeting has been bipartisan criticism of the IRS. An irony here is that the folks who are loudest this time include many people who habitually excuse profiling and object to "political correctness."
RICHARD F. ULRICH