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Monday, February 28, 2011 

Issa Enterprises responds. Sort of.


A week ago, Courage founder and chair Rick Jacobs wrote an OpEd in the San Diego Union-Tribune questioning Darrell Issa's commitment to the serious, non-partisan oversight that our government needs. In fact, it echoed the concerns of the U-T's own editorial board, who worried in January that Issa was undermining his own credibility even before beginning his work as chair of the Oversight Committee.
Issa didn't reply directly to the concerns that Rick Jacobs raised. Instead, the chair of the San Diego Republican Party was dispatched to defend Issa. Sort of. I say sort of, because he doesn't actually defend Issa at all.
There's a half-hearted attempt to paint Issa's subpoena of Countrywide records as investigation of the private sector, except that Issa has made clear that he wants the records in order to name names of government and elected officials, not to better illustrate the private sector's part in financial collapse. "The American people have a right to know the totality of who participated in the Countrywide's VIP program and what they did in return for access to it." It's true, the American people do have that right, and getting those records should be a positive step. But not if the investigation is restricted to making examples of officials that grab good headlines.
Meanwhile, there's plenty of criticism of President Obama. There's criticism of the Troubled Asset Relief Program that Issa is seeking to de-fund and replace with nothing. There's criticism of Courage Campaign for not having objected to a substantively different but topically similar hearing on TARP when Democrats led the committee. Heck, there's even a criticism of projects like IssaWatch -- conceived and implemented after the November election -- for not having had an impact on the November election. Anything at all to avoid actually talking about Issa's record.
Even more telling is what's missing. There's nothing explaining why it would be a bad thing for Darrell Issa to disclose his dealings with lobbyists, especially since he's sought out corporate interests to shape his committee's agenda. There's no response to concerns that hearings and investigations thus far have been brazenly partisan, stacked to reach a pre-determined outcome, and have amounted to little but taxpayer-funded theatre to support Darrell Issa's far-right agenda. Instead, this is the same, tired rhetoric that Issa Enterprises has trafficked in for years. Don't even attempt to address the substance of the issues in question, just attack in the hopes of poisoning the well of spirited debate. Don't attempt to justify the hyperbolic rhetoric or the transparently one-sided investigations. Rather, keep insisting that no one has standing to criticize.
It's sadly appropriate perhaps that Issa Enterprises chose San Diego Republican Party chair Tony Krvaric to provide the response in this case. The concern of Rick Jacobs in his OpEd -- and the IssaWatch project every day -- is that Issa is more concerned about a partisan agenda than responsible, dispassionate oversight. Tony Krvaric meanwhile is fond of telling the world (and me in particular) that he's "not in the debate business. [He's] in the defeat liberals business." Plus, he's still got a few accountability issues of his own outstanding. Hardly the stuff that makes a credible defender of responsible oversight, and far from a credible critic of imagined partisan bias.
Since Issa spokesman Kurt Bardella has bragged publicly about his ability to plant stories nearly full-cloth in the media, perhaps it shouldn't be a surprise to see the chair of the San Diego Republican Party offering a response letter that reads like it came straight from the Issa Enterprises communications shop. But it isn't as though Issa, Bardella and the rest of the Issa Enterprises team invented this strategy. Attacking from weakness was Karl Rove's favorite campaign strategy with George W. Bush and drove the Swift Boat campaign against John Kerry in 2004. It's the same fundamental messaging strategy that germinates at the Koch Brothers billionaire caucuses and gets passed along through Glenn Beck, through think tanks, through talking heads, and all the way down to local party chairs.
Sadly, Issa and his cronies are, as yet, unwilling or unable to actually defend the content of his record. Instead, Issa Enterprises remains steadfastly committed to accusations, invective, and staying the same course that has proven so worrisome to the editorial board at the U-T and their fellow Hill watchers across the country and around the world.
At IssaWatch, we're still committed to pressing for the oversight that our government needs. And we continue to hope that Darrell Issa will come around.


Reader Discussion

Krvaric’s a hack, pure and simple.

at 5:00 pm on Mon, Feb 28, 2011Posted by smithee1

when it comes to issa"hope” is just another four letter word

at 10:43 am on Tue, Mar 1, 2011Posted by Consuelo Hannan

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