Right-wing activist Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Jane Hamsher of Firedoglake.com are teaming up to demand that Attorney General Eric Holder investigate White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel for -- drumroll please -- corrupt practices involving Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Oh, and they want Rahm to resign as well.
Unfortunately for Norquist and Hamsher, they sound a little bit more like Glenn Beck and Roger Ailes than Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. Their allegation -- that Emanuel and the White House are not only covering up past corrupt practices but are also creating an $800 billion slush fund with which they can carry out even more corruption -- is reminiscent of the fanciful allegations that Bill Clinton killed Vince Foster and Ron Brown.
Unlike the efforts to push the envelope on health reform, advancing this conspiracy theory is not the kind of thing that helps the progressive movement. Consider:
- Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac are key elements in the right-wing narrative about the recession. Their script goes something like this: ACORN, Fannie, and Freddie worked with the Democratic Congress to pressure banks to lend to "risky" borrowers, using the Community Reinvestment Act as their leverage. This storyline is totally false, but wingers love it because it not only absolves the financial and real estate industries of responsibility for the financial crisis, but it puts the blame squarely on the backs of blacks and Latinos. Absent evidence, lending credibility to the this right-wing shibboleth is a great disservice.
- There are precious few reasons for progressives to partner with someone like Grover Norquist. As Hamsher herself wrote, when Grover Norquist called Barack Obama "John Kerry with a tan" he was engaged in the kind of race-baiting that has been the hallmark of Republican politics since the civil rights era. Moreover, even if these allegations were credible, why partner with someone who has his own ties to corruption, specifically the Jack Abramoff scandal.
- Finally, and arguably most importantly, this smells an awful lot like a Ken Starr-style witch hunt all over again -- except even more divorced from reality. The key point here is that an investigation of the sort Hamsher and Norquist want would be a massive burden on a White House that is already struggling with enormous problems with no end in sight. Does anybody think that tying the administration up in knots with a politically-motivated investigation will help get a public option enacted or pass immigration reform? Will it help strengthen the economy or move us towards alternate energy?
Bottom-line: there's no question that the White House has work to do when it comes to achieving progressive goals, and there's no doubt that holding their feet to the fire is a good thing, but this kind of stuff won't help us achieve any progressive goals. It's understandable that Fox or the GOP would want to push it, but pushing it from the left is sheer nonsense.
Update (8:02AM): Join the discussion in dengre's recommended diary Grover Norquist is our ally? Are you f@%&ing kidding me!
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