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Tilting at Windmills

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July 23, 2010

INVESTIGATING IS EASIER THAN GOVERNING.... The political world may not fully appreciate just how ugly it might be next year.

Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-MN) has a plan for what the Republicans should do if they win control of the House of Representatives: Spend all their time investigating the Obama administration.

"Oh, I think that's all we should do," Bachmann told the Three Fingers of Politics website. "I think that all we should do is issue subpoenas and have one hearing after another, and expose all the nonsense that has gone on."

To be sure, it was farcical on the Hill in the mid- to late-'90s. Rep. Dan Burton (R) of Indiana and his House committee on administrative oversight launched pointless investigations into every wild-eyed Clinton-related accusation unhinged activists could manufacture.

And I mean "every" quite literally. In one instance, Burton held hearings -- for 10 days -- on the Clintons' Christmas card list. In another, Burton fired a bullet into a "head-like object" -- reportedly a melon -- in his backyard to test his conspiracy theories about Vince Foster. Over the last six years of Bill Clinton's presidency, Burton's committee unilaterally issued 1,052 subpoenas -- that's not a typo -- to investigate baseless allegations of misconduct. That translates to an average of a politically-inspired subpoena every other day for six consecutive years, including weekends, holidays, and congressional recesses.

A Republican House majority in the next Congress would likely take this even further. Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has already made clear that he intends to make Burton look like a meek, submissive toady, leaving "corporate America" alone, so he can attack the White House relentlessly.

For that matter, let's also not forget that some Republicans, including two members of Congress, have raised the specter of presidential impeachment once there's a GOP majority. One of them is Bachmann -- who thinks "all" Republicans should do in the next Congress is launch witch hunts.

As Paul Krugman noted recently, "[W]e'll be having hearings over accusations of corruption on the part of Michelle Obama's hairdresser, janitors at the Treasury, and Larry Summers's doctor's dog."

If this seems like a joke, now would be a good time to adjust your expectations.

Steve Benen 9:15 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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Comments

Dang, I hope someone got the Bachmann comments on video --- or that she's dumb enough to restate them on video. There's an ad for Bachmann's opponent, Tarryl Clark, right there.

Posted by: David Bailey on July 23, 2010 at 9:17 AM | PERMALINK

And yet why isn't our liberal media holding Republicans' feet to the fire and making them take impeachment off the table in the name of bipartisanship the way Democrats had to in '06?

Posted by: anon on July 23, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

Bachmann, I'm sure, will lead a committee investigating whether the President prefers boxers or briefs, and then start impeachment hearings regardless of choice.
What part of "govern" in government is it that they don't understand?
I know it's hard work, and meaningless investigations have cachet with crack-pot conservatives, which at this point, is ALL of them, but you were elected to govern.
If you want to play detective, send away for the Dick Tracy kit.
China will be laughing its ass off if Republicans win in November. They'll be moving far ahead of us economically while the Republicans try to choose from a "Poo-Poo Platter" of BS.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on July 23, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

And yet why isn't our liberal media holding Republicans' feet to the fire and making them take impeachment off the table in the name of bipartisanship the way Democrats had to in '06?

Posted by: anon on July 23, 2010 at 9:19 AM

What liberal media?

Posted by: ronbyers on July 23, 2010 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

This would be great for the media, and arguably not bad, politically, for the White House.

The media, of course, would lap it up. It's entertainment on a grand scale, and that's what they live for. I frankly expect a bias toward Republicans this season, and if they win (which I rather doubt will occur), the media will (again) be their lapdogs.

But it could also be good for Obama, because then it gives him a foil to run against. He can blame a moribund economy on the "do-nothing Republicans in the House." He can accuse them of "fiddling while the country burns." He can respond in a partisan way to partisan attacks, and he's got the bully pulpit. I imagine he would win big in 2012 and take back the House as well.

Now don't get me wrong; I have no desire for this to happen. But as clouds go, this one could easily have a big silver lining.

Posted by: bleh on July 23, 2010 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

-And how many investigations have the Democrats initiated in the last 18 months?

How many subpoenas have they served on Republicans, both in and out of office?

Posted by: DAY on July 23, 2010 at 9:29 AM | PERMALINK

This country is so done.

Posted by: chrenson on July 23, 2010 at 9:34 AM | PERMALINK

Bachmann made her comments on a webcast, and yes there is an audio recording, which Tarryl Clark, her opponent, should feature prominently in any attack ads. I believe Bachmann won't be back chairing the teabagger caucus next year, though she'll probably join Palin in fleecing the suckers out of big bucks for blabbering engagements.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on July 23, 2010 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

And "progressives" wants to sit this one out, because Obama didn't give them a really nice pony.

Posted by: impik on July 23, 2010 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

@bleh: I have to agree. All the electorate needs to see is a return to government-by-obstruction revisiting the Contract On America days, and all but the 23% will recognize the mistake and correct it in 2012.

On the other hand, I don't think any of us wants to live through the intervening years' political and economic fiasco to get to that election. Hopefully the rhetoric we're hearing from the G(n)O(B)P is repellent enough to prevent that.

Posted by: boatboy_srq on July 23, 2010 at 9:41 AM | PERMALINK

Of course Karl Rove proved that congressional subpoenas can be ignored without consequenses....right?

IOKIYAR

Posted by: atlliberal on July 23, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

impik - your comment is soooooo right on!

Posted by: just bill on July 23, 2010 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

Wrathtocracy

If this seems like a joke, now would be a good time to adjust your expectations.

Don't know what to say Steve...
Do you think you can hang on as a blogger through the coming shit storm?
I know I can't hang on as a participant-reader-commenter...

At that point:

The devolution of democracy into a debauchery of trivial wrath will be so complete:
The sanest personal policy will be to turn-off and drop out. Why read and write or think or care about a bunch of doomed clowns having a food fight over Michelle's hairdresser?

I mean really. It is not like we are even paying attention now is it?
Did you hear the one about the massive coral die-off and bleaching?

Posted by: koreyel on July 23, 2010 at 9:52 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who believes the bullshit line about both parties being exactly the same need look no further than this hideous gorgon.

Posted by: chrenson on July 23, 2010 at 10:03 AM | PERMALINK

I agree with bleh as well. That "boomerang effect" is exactly what the saner Republicans (yes, there are still a few, but most of them are out of office) say they fear most about the GOP's drift to the right and into the Teabaggers' arms. If they do win the House and go Teabagger apeshit, they will get clobbered in 11/12 and Obama will walk to re-election. We will have to endure two years of nonsense, but then it may be a very long time indeed before the GOP can try again.

Posted by: wihntr on July 23, 2010 at 10:05 AM | PERMALINK

+1 to impik

Posted by: jrw on July 23, 2010 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

Another +1 to impik.

Posted by: DJ on July 23, 2010 at 10:10 AM | PERMALINK

I'm with bleh (heh) on this.

It's one thing to run endless, mindless investigations while the economy is booming, it's another to tie up congress with crap when the economy is struggling.

This will play into the Democrat's hands in 2012 if the republicans try this....

Posted by: JCT on July 23, 2010 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

"but then it may be a very long time indeed before the GOP can try again."

I remember the very same sentence from 2008. How did that work out?

The way politics work and are covered by the media serves a short attention span. Don't you all remember Obama created TARP!

Face it: The US democracy is factually dysfunctional. Legislature and press are done. The first and the fourth limb of the democratic body are wrotten and stink.

And big fat maggots like Bachmann, Palin and Breitbart are feasting on its flesh.

Posted by: Vokoban on July 23, 2010 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

If you haven't already done so, it might be prudent to: Plant a garden, build a chicken coop, pay down your debt(s), and learn a useful skill.

Also buy a shotgun; #7 shot for rabbits, fowl. Buckshot for deer- and other problems that might arise in the years ahead.

You probably won't NEED any of this, but they can be enjoyable pastimes. . .

Posted by: DAY on July 23, 2010 at 10:15 AM | PERMALINK

If this seems like a joke, now would be a good time to adjust your expectations.

Hey, gotta laugh to keep from cryin' all the time!

Stop me if you've heard this: Tim Geither, Elizabeth Warren and Larry Summers' doctor's dog walk into a Senate hearing...

Posted by: cr on July 23, 2010 at 10:18 AM | PERMALINK

Does anyone know why Bachman is allowed to get such horrendously high farm subsidies?
Do Bachman & husband have some kind of counseling service for which they are billing medicare?
The media has been very quiet about the Steele missing millions.
Lastly - why was Ed Schultz ranting against the president at Netroots nation, I used to think he was on our side!

Posted by: JS on July 23, 2010 at 10:30 AM | PERMALINK

Punchline: Geither says, "Tough question, Senator, but if I had to chose, I'd go with the bitch."

Posted by: cr on July 23, 2010 at 10:37 AM | PERMALINK

How could anyone in MN-6, or other district, vote for someone so batshit crazy? She may not realize it, but she is being shunned by some ReBPublicans!!

Posted by: Ted76 on July 23, 2010 at 10:47 AM | PERMALINK

Every frigging election, some misguided people on the D side claim that it will be okay to lose this one because if we do, things will get so screwed up that it will be great for next time. I heard this preceding Nixon 1, Nixon 2, Carter, Reagan 1, Reagan 2, and so on. First, every time it involves Republicans shifting to significantly worse without paying much of a price for it. Second, we want the power of the incumbency working for us rather than against us, because there is a huge inertia to governmental power. Third, we should want to be in power during problematic times, because the business of politics is solving problems, the desire of the people is to see problems solved, and actually solving problems sets in stone the basic philosophy of how to operate the country during normal times and during the next set of problems. The R's are pushing against a governing philosophy set up by how Roosevelt dealt with the Depression, which is why they haven't been more successful. If we'd pulled through the Depression on Hooverism and gradual painful natural recovery we'd be fighting very different battles now and wouldn't be taking things like Social Security as a given. You don't say "this war looks difficult, so we'll let the other party make a mess out of this and we'll take on an easier one next time". Would you support a star pitcher who decided to sit out the World Series because the games were going to be difficult, but was expecting to return to heading the line-up in the next season after all the others screwed up the championship?

From c u n d gulag: "What part of 'govern' in government is it that they don't understand?"
I think they are instead going with the second half of 'governmental'.

Posted by: N.Wells on July 23, 2010 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Crank up the outrage machine! The people will have no reason to complain about democrats not doing anything for another 20 years. Lucky thing they have accomplished so much already. No democrat could have anticipated that they wouldn't have unlimited chances to do more.

Posted by: Michael7843853 on July 23, 2010 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

This will play into the Democrat's hands in 2012 if the republicans try this....

...and we will be trying to climb out of a much deeper hole.

Posted by: qwerty on July 23, 2010 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

I think they are instead going with the second half of 'governmental'. Precisely.

Congressional GOP to World, on everything: "Get the goddamn n*gg*r out of the White House, and then we'll talk." Politics-as-hostage-situation.

They've lost their minds. This makes the lame-duck impeachment suicide charge of '98-'99 look like a golden age of comity and reason.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 23, 2010 at 11:12 AM | PERMALINK

Lastly - why was Ed Schultz ranting against the president at Netroots nation, I used to think he was on our side!

You're talking about him this morning -- Mission Accomplished!

Posted by: DJ on July 23, 2010 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

Lastly - why was Ed Schultz ranting against the president at Netroots nation...?Because deep down inside he's the same guy who contemplated running for Congress in 1994 as a Republican, but discovered the line for talk-show hosts was much shorter on the left.

Posted by: Davis X. Machina on July 23, 2010 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

anybody seen any polling out of bachman's district?

Posted by: efgoldman on July 23, 2010 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

At this rate I am afraid we are most definitely repeating the end of the Roman Republic. In my opinion a whole generation has been tainted by the behavior of the Conservative movement through the 80s, 90s and 00s. They know no other way.

Posted by: muffler on July 23, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

@efgoldman. Yes, Unfortunately, Bachmann has a substantial lead over Clark.

What can I say, I live in Crazytown. People eat her up around here. That troll "Patrick from Anoka" who pops up here now and again--Anoka is in the heartland of her district. (It's the capital of our county)

Posted by: Paul on July 23, 2010 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

You know, I wonder if OB is gonna run again if all he gets for the next 6 years is BS investigations and forward progress. Man I wouldn't.

Posted by: The fake fake al on July 23, 2010 at 1:19 PM | PERMALINK

Over the last six years of Bill Clinton's presidency, Burton's committee unilaterally issued 1,052 subpoenas -- that's not a typo -- to investigate baseless allegations of misconduct.

How many of those were related to Chinagate? That actually did discover illegal campaign donations -- and an apparent conspiracy by the Chinese government -- so it wasn't exactly "baseless." It was also (according to Wikipedia) the most expensive Congressional investigation ever -- bigger than Watergate -- thanks to Dan Burton's mismanagement.

Oddly enough, Rush Limbaugh invoked Chinagate this morning, suggestnig that the Clintons had personally enriched themselves with those donations. His memory must be fading: the illegal donations were all returned.

Posted by: Grumpy on July 23, 2010 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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