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Monday, January 17, 2011 

Hill watchers worry about Issa’s plans

 

Even after a week-long tour of shuffling among the news media attempting to cover for his “most corrupt” communications blunder, Darrell Issa has a credibility problem. Even before the New Yorker ran a long profile (more on that later) about Issa’s checkered past today, the press corps has not been shy about expressing its wariness of Issa’s commitment to non-partisan oversight, and the sheer number of political pros who are nervous about what he might do is overwhelming.
 
On January 4th, Susan Milligan published "Issa, GOP More Interested in Politics Than Oversight" in U.S. News, editorializing that “the topics Issa is highlighting suggest a majority more interested in politics than true oversight. Maybe someone should investigate that.”
 
A similar sentiment was expressed in the New Jersey Star-Ledger a day later. The opinion page declared, "this is what we have learned from Issa before he has even banged that gavel once: He can’t distinguish between corruption and government inefficiency. And he takes on his new job with a verdict already in mind."
 
The Guardian got started even earlier, warning in November that "if [Republicans] allow Issa to run amok while unemployment soars and small businesses suffer, they will be seen, more than ever, as engines of partisan rancor, rather than partners in genuine bipartisan change and solutions in Congress. Nothing could be more dangerous for the GOP today."
 
Issa’s hometown newspaper, which knows him best, found Issa’s recent ‘corruption’ rhetoric irresponsible. The San Diego Union-Tribune shot back: “Sorry, congressman, that’s unacceptable. Corrupt means “to act dishonestly in return for money or personal gain.” It is not a term to be used loosely. With power comes responsibility. Issa has the power; he needs to exercise the responsibility.”
 
Across the country, the Washington Post editorial board reacted similarly to Issa’s comments, titling its January 3rd editorial “Rep. Darrell Issa's wild accusations are hurtful - to his own reputation.” The editorial blasted Issa for use of “repeated, inflammatory rhetoric,” calling his accusations baseless and “patently false.”
 
The Philadelphia Enquirer also questioned Issa’s credibility recently, describing his statements about the President as “way out of line.” The scathing article examined Issa’s goals as House Oversight Committee Chair, warning that he will most likely pursue an agenda that consists of “holding hearings that turn into partisan witch hunts for perceived bogeymen.”
 
Finally emerging into the spotlight, Issa’s record is clearly inspiring widespread concern. His enthusiasm for the megaphone has thus far remained checked by widespread concerns that Issa would use his chairmanship for exclusively partisan purposes in the same way that Dan Burton did during the Clinton years. As Politico notes, Issa's plans for hearings:
 
harks back to the days of... Rep. Dan Burton (R-Ind.), who picked fights with former President Bill Clinton’s White House.
 
So the question remains: will the man leading the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee keep his foot out of his mouth and run his committee responsibly--or is Burton 2.0 about to start issuing subpoenas?

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