How Darrell Issa Undermines the GOP’s IRS Issue

Randall Enos, Cagle Cartoons

Randall Enos, Cagle Cartoons

Quick: someone call a chiropractor for California Republican Rep. Darrell Issa. He’s overreached so far his arm may separate from his shoulder. Even some key figures in his party are suggesting he needs an adjustment. F-a-s-t.

Issa, a self-made millionaire who became famous — or infamous, depending on one’s perspective — when his $1.6 million donation helped propel the successful 2003 effort to recall California’s inept Gov. Grey Davis, is the increasingly high-profile, hyper-partisan Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. He’s known for declaring he’ll hold hearings on something that’ll prove wrong-doing on the part of the White House and bust the town wide open. His hearings usually are a bust.

His latest escapade is a case of quintessential political self-destruction. Angry over the White House line in the scandal over the IRS targeting conservative groups, Issa called White House Press Secretary Jay Carney a “paid liar.” Forget for a minute that all politicians — including Issa — have press secretaries who give information their bosses give them to the press. Issa’s harsh language immediately made him seem more like fill-in host for conservative talker Mark Levin rather than a serious Congressional investigator.

Significantly, Democrats seemed almost gleefully delighted to respond, while Republicans discreetly began scurrying away from him.

Former White House advisor David Plouffe on Twitter noted all the dropped charges and unproven suspicions from Issa’s past: “Strong words from Mr. Grand Theft Auto and suspected arsonist/insurance swindler. And loose ethically today.” Former White House Press secretary Robert Gibbs called Issa’s charge “stunning” and said Americans “want to see the IRS cleaned up, but they will understand quickly that Darrell Issa is doing nothing more than politicizing this event.”

Republican Joe Scarborough said Issa’s language made him look bad. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsay Graham on Fox said there was “no evidence” the White House directed the IRS probes and added: “Let’s not make it personal. Jay Carney is not the issue here. He’s the spokesman for the White House.” Arizona Sen. John McCain on CBS said he didn’t like the word liar: “I think that we should let these investigations take their course, let the facts come out.”

The National Journal’s Ron Fournier, who often irks both parties, wrote: “Meet the best friend of a controversy-plagued Democratic White House: a demagogic Republican. In a reminder of how the GOP overreached during the Clinton-era sex scandal, Issa doesn’t seem capable of letting damning facts speak for themselves.”

Meanwhile, George W. Bush’s former speechwriter David Frum announced he was ending his blog at The Daily Beast due to some family tragedies and offered some parting key points for conservative reformers. One of them should be read by Issa:

“Now Republicans are working themselves into a frenzy that will paralyze Congress for the next 18 months at least, and could well lead to an impeachment crisis,” Frum wrote. “As it becomes clear that the IRS story is an agency scandal, not a White House scandal, conservative reformers need to be ready to do their part to apply the brakes and turn the steering wheel. There will be a Republican president again someday, and that president will need American political institutions to work. Republicans also lose as those institutions degenerate.”

Issa isn’t acting as if he’s stewarding a committee in a great institution seeking to learn the truth. He’s acting like a hyper-partisan with investigative powers who has already judged and desperately seeks something on the other party. He has not proven a thing yet. And, in the process, he’s destroying his own credibility — and the seriousness of questions raised about the IRS.

Which should worry a lot of Republicans. And please the White House.

Copyright 2013 Joe Gandelman. This copyrighted weekly column is distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons newspaper syndicate.

         

18 Comments

  1. So the Dems should be happy. Are the ones at TMV happy. I wonder if they will look a gift horse in the mouth.
    With Issa they get a side show that distracts us while the IRS and other bumps in the road are classified as fabricated/faked partisan attacks, internal bad behavior, mishandled or unclear directives, bad law, already investigated/further investigations or still being investigated (see Benghazi), forgetfulness, or doing might makes right things (see Rosen).

    Ignoring all these turds in the road leaves us with a mess that future presidents, Dem or Rep have to maneuver around; better to clean them up when you are a lame duck anyway.

  2. Are the ones at TMV happy.

    None of this dysfunction makes me happy in the least because I don’t care about politics as though it’s a giant football game. I care about having our country restored to a working democracy that includes everyone and shows respect for everyone. If republicans showed any indication they cared about that goal I’d vote for them. Instead they act like hoodlums and idiots. What does that leave?

  3. I still have a hard time wrapping my head around the “scandal” portion of the IRS saga. The IRS Should scrutinize groups asking for tax exempt status, especially those that are obviously political groups. To hear the group representatives tearfully tell their tales about how they had to fill out extra paperwork? puh..leez. The real scandal is a congress that would rather spend time and money trying to find something to pin on the whitehouse instead of solving this country’s problems by actually legislating.

  4. dd

    With Issa they get a side show that distracts us

    That’s what makes me unhappy. There should be investigations and cleanup of the IRS political targeting, security in embassies, and the justice department’s actions.

    No serious inquiries and, more important, no changes made to make things work better; simply bombast and disinformation to score points politically. It’s disgusting.

  5. Ohio, said: “That’s what makes me unhappy. There should be investigations and cleanup of the IRS political targeting, security in embassies, and the justice department’s actions.”
    And, who prey tell should do that. The administration and the IRS, State and justice, or the congressional committees? Who, who should wear the ribbon.
    “No serious inquiries and, more important, no changes made to make things work better; simply bombast and disinformation to score points politically. It’s disgusting.”
    Well, get some Dems to start “serious” inquiries. Last time I looked the Dems owned the Senate and the WH, then we can eliminate the bombast and disinformation.

    If you don’t clean out your own bedroom, then you can’t complain too much if someone else does a poor job.

    Z, Puhleez, it is all BS, while calling an entire party hoodlums and idiots really makes the Reps want to show respect for “everyone”, and get votes.
    Try scoring that goal Dems.

    Yooper, how about we don’t call it a scandal and instead insist on knowing how and why this IRS mess occurred.

  6. dd

    The White House doesn’t do investigations and shouldn’t be investigating themselves. The DOJ has investigations going in all three areas. Including the two House investigations; we may have “an embarrassment of riches”.

    Senator Carl Levin – D(MI) Note: At least the Dems are investigating the right thing!

    “My subcommittee has been investigating the IRS’s failure to enforce the law requiring that tax-exempt 501(c)4s be engaged exclusively in social welfare activities, not partisan politics,” Levin said in a statement on Friday. “Today’s announcement by the IRS raises a second issue: whether the IRS, to the extent it has enforced its rules, has been impartial in doing so. Both issues require investigation.”

    http://livewire.talkingpointsm.....ation-into

    Senator Max Baucus – D(MN)

    Sen. Max Baucus says the Senate Finance Committee will investigate the IRS targeting conservative political groups, joining a growing list of congressional panels looking into the matter.

    The Finance Committee would be the first in the Democratic-controlled Senate to announce an investigation. (actually the second, but who’s counting) The Montana Democrat is the panel’s chairman.

    In the House, the Ways and Means Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, also are investigating

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/.....66805.html

    Do you think these Senate committees will be as tragi-comic as those in the House? If so, you’ve never watched Carl Levin in action.

  7. Z, Puhleez, it is all BS, while calling an entire party hoodlums and idiots really makes the Reps want to show respect for “everyone”, and get votes.

    Well dd, who cares about the ones who have integrity and conscience if they aren’t the ones running the show? They may as well be on leashes. As for tip-toeing around their delicate sensibilities, I’ll pass. They deserve the labels that best describe them.

  8. Duh, gee tanks.

  9. Ohio, said (again): “No serious inquiries and, more important, no changes made to make things work better; simply bombast and disinformation to score points politically. It’s disgusting.”
    Thank you for your answer to that statement and the links; so I guess there are some”serious” investigations. :-)
    Re the WH “doesn’t do investigations”. They sure say we will get to the bottom of __________, and they sure say we will get the perps and I am ordering the ____ to do an investigation, etc, a lot.
    Also, the attorney general is the president’s hatchet person.

  10. Zephyr writes: “I care about having our country restored to a working democracy that includes everyone and shows respect for everyone.”

    Thank you m’dear — took the words right out of my mouth. Not my country totally but I truly care, like you do.

  11. Duh, gee tanks.

    You’re welcome. Needless to say (I think) I was talking about the republican leadership, not every member of their flock.

  12. dd No serious investigations by the chairmen in the House.

    C’mon dd. You know how the government works. The White House has to rely on DOJ and DOD and the CIA for any investigations. That’s why they are cabinet offices that must congress must “advise and consent” to. The DOJ is responsible for investigating all civil criminal cases, even those committed by administration personnel in the White House. The DOD investigates any cases concerning military personnel. And the CIA reports to the Director of Intelligence.

    I assume you are old enough to remember the “Saturday Night Massacre”.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....2173-2.htm

    I hadn’t remembered Bork’s part in it, but that probably contributed to why he never made it to the Supreme Court.

  13. It doesn’t do much for your status as someone who is supposed to be leading an investigation when day after day you make it obvious that you’re not planning on investigating anything.

  14. Ohio, I thought since you are interested in investigations, you might get some information from this article (yes, it is an Opinion piece from the WSJ):
    http://online.wsj.com/article/.....19368.html
    “Congress has also mandated that each cabinet-level inspector general “shall be appointed by the president, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate…..”
    “….. vacant inspector-general posts at the departments of State, Interior, Labor, Homeland Security and Defense and at the Agency for International Development.”

  15. dd

    That is an interesting link. Apparently the author Mr. Schmitz, was a former IG for DOD and had to resign.

    Inspector General, Joseph Schmitz, resigned in 2005 while he was under investigation for corruption and for blocking investigations in his office.

    That is from an article that includes Obama’s proposed DOD IG, David Laufman, a previous Bush proposed appointee, is being held up by Sen. Carl Levin and the acting IG Thomas Gimble, another Bush appointee who also has a troubling past.

    Maybe you can read the article and figure it out. And this is just the DOD!

    http://smintheusblog.blogspot......ed-to.html

    PS I’m not really interested in investigations, especially those conducted as Mr. Issa’s are.

  16. Ohio, I am not very good at puzzles, especially old ones. If you are implying that Bush put in some bad IGs, go for it, I don’t care. Meantime in 2013, the first article points out a lack of IGs and that appears to land at Obama’s feet and the Senate’s (Democratic) door.

    And, if you don’t like Issa’s investigation style, I can’t blame you, so let’s hope the Senate and through Obama’s prodding other investigation’s: AG, IGs and FBI.

  17. dd

    No, I wasn’t so much interested in the Bush appointments as the morass you get into when trying to figure out how anything could get done in DC. Yes, the article in your link points out the lack of IGs and my link is somewhat explanatory as to why. But if you don’t want to get depressed, skip it.

    Here’s another link as to the why the DOD IG is missing. Again, if you don’t want to get depressed, skip it.

    http://www.nbcnews.com/id/1506.....-pentagon/

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