It's pretty clear that Darrell Issa is not having a good last couple days. In the wake of his rough treatment by Candy Crowley on CNN yesterday and his grade school level outburst at Jay Carney, he's rightly getting hammered in response, most memorably by David Plouffle concerning Issa's long history of, to be charitable, ethically-wayward behavior. When the likes of Ron Fournier are comparing you to Joe McCarthy, it's a pretty good indication that you've messed up.
But is anyone really surprised? Did anyone expect anything less from Issa as chief Republican investigator into all things Obama? This is a guy who, from the get-go, has done nothing but botch things, like when he called the Obama administration "one of the most corrupt in American history" with absolutely zero evidence and then backtracked by saying he meant along the lines of bad software. The man is a hopeless, incompetent clown and has been so his entire political career. Need we remember his infamous crying spat back in 2003 after Arnold took his governorship away from him?
But the presence of Issa as the GOP's current Torquemada reflects far worse on his fellow Republicans than it does on him. Because it proves that the GOP has learned absolutely nothing from the Clinton years. One of Clinton's greatest assests in besting the GOP in the scandal wars was that the GOP had the knack for chosing the worst possible people to be their chief Congressional investigators. And when I mean the worst, I mean the worst. A few examples:
- The Senate had a special committee in 1995 and 1996 to investigate Whitewater. So who does the GOP get to head it? Al Freaking D'Amato Senator Sleaze. Senator Shakedown. One of the most blatantly and ludicrous corrupt politicians in recent memory. Needless to say, the Whitewater Committee failed to produce any "smoking gun," though it was crediting with helping D'Amato lose his Senate seat in 1998.
- The House votes to impeach Clinton and needs a chief prosecuter. Who do you pick? Henry Hyde. A paragon of virture who had an adulterous affair that broke up a family and then tried to brush it off by saying it was a "youthful indescretion" despite being in his 40s when he did it. And a man who when he thundered about the "rule of law prevailing," couldn't help but remind people of when he said it was okay for Ollie North to break the law during Iran-Contra because it was for a "higher power." And they wondered why Clinton was acquitted.
And the one most similar to Issa:
- The GOP wins control of the House. They have the chairmanship of the Oversight and Government Reform Committee and have subpeona power. So who do they give this responsibility to? Dan Burton.
He of the "head-like thing" in his backyard. He of the highly questionable fundrasing history. He of the countless affairs and illegitimate child. And he who was, well, just plain weird. Needless to say, Burton was a colossal joke as Chairman, as Steve Benen puts it:
Over the last six years of Bill Clinton's presidency, Burton led the House Government Reform Committee and unilaterally issued 1,089 subpoenas to investigate allegations of misconduct.So GOP, I have this question. How can you have learned nothing from the 90s? How, after picking such disastrous choices to be the faces of your Clinton investigations, can you not have wised up? Was Darrell Issa really all you had on hand? And how can you still stick by him when the Benghazi-shrieking likes of John McCain and Lindsey Graham are both telling him to back off over his Carney outburst?
Burton handed out subpoenas like candy, targeting 141 different Clinton administration officials. He once held hearings -- for 10 days -- on the Clintons' Christmas card list. In one instance, Burton was so reckless, he subpoenaed the wrong man (looking for someone with a similar name).
And Reince Priebus is now saying Issa will have "quite a summer." I'll bet he will. And by the end of August, he will most likely be a laughingstock along the lines of those in whose path he now treads.
Like they say. Those who do not learn from the past are condemned to repeat it.