Ron Suskind proves Frank Rich's point that "[e]lections may come and go, but Washington remains incorrigible. Not even voters delivering a clear message can topple the town's conventional wisdom once it has been set in the stone of punditry."
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), the soon-to-be chairman of the Government Reform Committee, is a classic pit bull. He has dreamed of subpoenas -- issuing them, and placing witnesses under oath -- for 12 years.... Democrats should be able to both investigate and lead, but it will take an embrace of Republican-style discipline (hardly a Democratic strong suit), an appreciation for deferred gratification (think inauguration day, January 2009) and a shrewd division of labor between pit bulls and show horses.
You'd think of all people, Ron Suskind who has worked so hard to uncover the malfeasance and misfeasance of the Bush administration, would have better understanding of the critical need for information gathering, as Waxman himself says:
Republicans have speculated that a Democratic congressional majority will mean a flurry of subpoenas and investigations into everything under the sun as retaliation against the GOP and President Bush.
Not so, Waxman said.
"A lot of people have said to me, 'Are you going to now go out and issue a lot of subpoenas and go on a wild payback time?' Well, payback is unworthy," he said. "Doing oversight doesn't mean issuing subpoenas. It means trying to get information."
Subpoenas would be used only as a last result, Waxman said, taking a jab at a previous committee chairman, GOP Rep. Dan Burton of Indiana, who led the committee during part of the Clinton administration.
"He issued a subpoena like most people write a letter," Waxman said.
What Suskind forgets is that without information gathering, without investigation, it is impossible to lead. One would have thought that was one of the main themes of Suskind's bestseller One Percent Doctrine. As he demonstrates, the principal flaw of this administration and Republican Rubber Stamp Congress that has thankfully been put out of its misery, was that this information gathering did not occur, and whatever facts did emerge were ignored.
Henry Waxman is a serious man who takes his job very seriously. From investigating tobacco companies to being the only person trying to investigate Halliburton and the sinkhole that Iraq contracting has become, Waxman epitomizes what Congressman should be doing: leading by information gathering as a part of leadership, by oversight, and by providing the critical check to the executive that the legislative branch is supposed to.
He told the Chamber of Commerce that Congress must restore accountability and function as an independent branch of government. "It's our obligation not to be repeating with the Republicans have done," Waxman said.
One would have thought Suskind would be among the first to give that approach to governance a standing ovation. Go figure.