If anyone epitomizes the toxic partisan atmosphere of the US Congress these days, it’s Darrell Issa, Chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Whether it’s allegations about Benghazi, the IRS, or most recently the Hatch Act, Issa has searched for anything he could use to manufacture a scandal in order to tarnish the Obama Administration. He has issued 99 subpoenas, most of them unilateral and political.
Recently, trying to argue that the White House was violating the Hatch Act prohibiting senior officials from engaging in political activity while doing their duties, Issa subpoenaed David Simas, a top White House advisor. The White House balked, saying there is no reason to him to testify and as a top advisor he was immune from such a subpoena. Issa had called two other witnesses, but after seeing that their testimony would contradict his claims of clear violations of the Hatch Act, he quickly ended the session without giving them a chance to testify.
The subpoena abuse and abrupt cutting off of testimony that would weaken his claim angered ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings, who said Issa was using the committee as “center stage for political theater.” Indeed, Issa’s activities go far beyond the norm for that committee. His subpoenas are mostly “unilateral,” meaning they don’t have the approval of the ranking Democrat nor has the committee voted. In essence he’s casting his net wide hoping he’ll find something.
This is unprecedented – in the past (except for a brief time when the GOP pursued Clinton) the committee has been very careful with subpoenas – almost always they had bipartisan support. That in a microcosm is what’s wrong with Washington. Rather than trying to figure out how to run the country better and solve problems, the goal is to find some way to politically embarrass the other side.
But there is also reason not to trust Issa. Issa has been accused of car theft, insurance fraud (he settled out of court for $20,000 with an insurance company rather than collecting hundreds of thousands he was insured for because the fire was so suspicious) and there is no evidence of how he was able to purchase his business anyway. In short, the guy is at best shady. (Read more: here)
The desire on the far right for some kind of scandal to use to impeach Obama has failed, yet they have created a fantasy land where they think Obama’s been acting like a tyrant. They claim he’s trying to run the country with executive orders when the number he’s made is small by historical standards, and minuscule compared to his predecessor. Of course, when Dick Cheney, architect of an Iraq war that has damaged US foreign policy more than any other policy in history, says Obama’s the worst President – well, it’s clear he can’t handle reality.
The GOP has to watch it. While inbred blogs and talk radio can get them to bolster their own fantasies and think it’s clear that Obama is an idiot and the scandals are real, that’s not reality. It’s a political fantasy shared with an almost cult-like set of memes and false beliefs.
They correctly see how the culture of the US and our role in the world is shifting due to globalization, changing demographics, and economic reality. They don’t like the way the country is changing, and a black President Barack Hussein Obama personifies the new emerging America. Rather than dealing with reality, they hope they can make it go away by finding some sexy scandal that could destroy Obama and thus the America he represents.
That prevents them from playing a constructive role in dealing with the real issues (rather than improve Obamacare they try in vain to eliminate it). Ultimately, reality bites. The world is changing, and there is no super scandal that will turn back time. We need a constructive conservative voice, not a delusional one.