10 Phony Scandals the GOP May Waste Your Tax Dollars Investigating
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The stormy years of the Clinton administration were marked by an endless series of trumped up 'gates, from Travelgate to Billingate to Golfgate. They were snappily branded pseudo-scandals concocted by the Right and repeated ad nauseum across its noise machine in an ultimately effective campaign to derail the agenda of a Democrat in the Oval Office.
With the GOP taking control of the House in January, get ready for an encore. As Politico reported during the run-up to November’s midterms, “a handful of aggressive would-be committee chairmen — led by Reps. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) and Lamar Smith (R-Texas) — are quietly gearing up for a possible season of subpoenas not seen since the Clinton wars of the late 1990s.”
According to Politico, Issa, an alleged former car thief who became the richest member of Congress by selling anti-theft gizmos, is “eyeing a massive expansion of oversight for next year, including hundreds of hearings” and “the creation of new subcommittees.” The Washington Post notes that Issa, who was forced to say he regretted calling Obama, “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times,” has already “reveled in his role as ‘annoyer in chief,’ peppering the administration with hundreds of letters raising the specter of wrongdoing and demanding information.”
Smith is notable for his insistence that “99 percent of Americans would support” torturing terror suspects, and a very serious exchange with Eric Holder in which he insisted that the attorney general use the phrase “radical Islam” more frequently because, as the Huffington Post’s Jason Linkins put it, “there can be no success in the War on Terror unless you are using the magical words!”
What will they dig into? There’s a lot of government activities that could sorely use some sunlight, but don’t expect showboating GOP back-benchers trying to impress the Tea Partiers to expend much energy improving American governance. To get a sense of where they might head with their newfound investigative powers, you need only follow the pseudo-scandals the Right has pushed in the first two years of the Obama era.
Here are seven of most ridiculous, each and every one of which could become prime material for that endless series of committee hearings coming our way in the House of Representatives.
The Russians are coming! Or maybe it’s just the Associate Director of the Office of Science and Technology Policy.
One of the most shallow and factually dubious conservative gripes in recent years holds that the Obama administration has circumvented Congressional oversight by appointing a series of “czars” -- high-level advisers -- and that this is both bad and unprecedented.
House minority whip Eric Cantor, R-Virgina, and Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson, R-Texas, are just a few of the prominent Republicans who have taken to the editorial pages to decry, in the latter’s words, this “dangerous precedent that undermines the Constitution’s guarantee of separated powers.”
Of course, advisers are only unprecedented in the parallel universe inhabited by consumers of Fox News. As Think Progress noted, the czars have titles and are only referred to as czars by the press, and many hold positions that required them to be confirmed by Congress. Such advisers have existed since Andrew Jackson’s time in the White House in the 1830s, and George W. Bush was quite fond of them during his presidency (much to the total lack of chagrin of conservative good-government types like Darell Issa).
2. Hype About the New Black Panthers
It’s hard to imagine getting through the next two years without a serious investigation of the Justice Department’s decision not to file serious federal charges based on a Fox News-driven story that the New Republic’s Jonathan Chait called “the most widespread and mainstream right-wing effort to exploit racial fears against Obama."