Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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January 3, 2011

IS 'DERANGED' STILL AN OPTION?.... Just a few month ago, shortly before the midterm elections, Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) told Rush Limbaugh he considers President Obama "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times." Soon after, the Washington Post's Ruth Marcus noted, "If Issa believes this, he is deranged. If he doesn't and is saying it anyway, he is dangerous."

A month later, pressed by ABC's George Stephanopoulos, Issa walked it back.

Yesterday, Issa returned to his original, deranged point, but broadened the scope.

The incoming House Oversight and Government Reform chairman on Sunday tried to clarify his recent remarks to Rush Limbaugh where he called President Obama "one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times."

Rep. Darrell Issa said he meant to say the Obama administration instead of the president.

Well, in that case, Issa seems entirely reasonable, right? How silly of me to think the right-wing Californian, perhaps best known as an alleged car thief who lied about his military background, might be less than sensible about his partisan hatred of the president.

To justify his allegations of corruption, Issa told CNN yesterday, "In saying that this is one of the most corrupt administrations, which is what I meant to say there, when you hand out $1 trillion in TARP just before this president came in, most of it unspent, $1 trillion nearly in stimulus that this president asked for, plus this huge expansion in health care and government, it has a corrupting effect."

As is too often the case, Issa is deeply confused. First, the TARP bailout was a Bush administration proposal supported by the Republican leadership in both chambers. The Obama administration made sure American taxpayers were paid back, and lowered TARP's price tag to almost zero. If Issa sees this as evidence of "corruption," someone should have bought him a dictionary for Christmas.

Second, the stimulus wasn't $1 trillion -- I wish it had been -- and there was nothing corrupt about it. Similarly, arguing that health care reform has a "corrupting effect" doesn't make any sense if the effect of the law features no corruption.

For Issa, who's never been accused of being the sharpest crayon in the box, it seems "corrupt" is another word for "stuff I don't like." Given that Issa will have expansive subpoena power starting in a few days, that's not exactly encouraging.

Despite all of this, much of the political establishment will still ask incredulously why President Obama can't generate more bipartisan support.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (18)

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Relates, here's a Media Matters piece on "CNN's Ed Henry Fact Checks Rep. Issa's False Claim That The Stimulus "Didn't Create Jobs"" in which Henry really doesn't fact check Issa, and allows him to keep spinning with stunning dishonesty. Until the media requires honesty of their guests, we are doomed.


In other words, we are doomed.

Posted by: wvng on January 3, 2011 at 8:39 AM | PERMALINK

Crooks & Liars has a transcript. Apparently Ed Henry did a good job or holding Issa to his words, and asked follow-up questions. If you'd like to read it, here it is:

But, Steve, your point of endless investigations isn't lost on me. They're going to start to investigate anyone and everyone involved with the Democrats.
I hope the person who does Bo's nails has a back-up, because even that person's going to spend a lot of time subpeonaed in front of some stupie House Committee. Maybe Letterman can show exceerps on "Stupid Animal Tricks," if he still does that.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 3, 2011 at 8:44 AM | PERMALINK

Wow, two different takes!
I'll check out Media Matters. Thanks.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on January 3, 2011 at 8:45 AM | PERMALINK

Indeed. So why is Obama still so obsessed with bipartisanship? Why is he still seeking support from the very people whose professed goal is to make him a one-term president?

Posted by: fradiaolo on January 3, 2011 at 8:49 AM | PERMALINK

Remind me of how G.W. Bush handled the occasional Democratic "investigations" of HIS administration.

-I believe the F word was involved. . .

Posted by: DAY on January 3, 2011 at 8:51 AM | PERMALINK

Actually you have confused confused with being a lying SOB.

Posted by: captain dan on January 3, 2011 at 8:55 AM | PERMALINK


I thought that "deranged" was a basic feature of the GOP.

Posted by: arkie on January 3, 2011 at 8:56 AM | PERMALINK
[Re: Bush's TARP]...If Issa sees this as evidence of "corruption," someone should have hit him upside the head with a dictionary for Christmas.

Fixed your recco, to something that would actually have a tiny positive effect, if repeated with vigor until the message is delivered.

Posted by: Snarki, child of Loki on January 3, 2011 at 9:00 AM | PERMALINK

Issa is f-ing crazy and needs to be treated as such.

Posted by: rikyrah on January 3, 2011 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

This is a test of the Washington press corps. If Issa announces investigations, and this is what he comes with, he should be laughed out of the briefing room. Given that the Washington press corps is comprised mostly of shameless fawning jackals, I won't hold my breath on that one.

Secondly, I'd like to remind Mr. Issa that it was a White House and attorney general of his party that insisted that administration officials need not respond to Congressional subpeonas if the president tells them not to. Have a nice day, Darrell.

Posted by: DZ on January 3, 2011 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK

Darryl Issa is the congressional representative for the district immediately adjacent to mine and makes me wish I lived a few miles north of where I do, just so I could vote against him.

Issa, some may recall, had a big hand in the Gray Davis recall debacle which gave us Arnold Schwarzenegger as Governor of California. While the whole episode was revolting and tawdry, one highlight was seeing Issa publicly break down and cry when he discovered that he would not be able to buy his way into the Governor's chair.

Calling him a loathsome putz does not begin describe the revulsion and contempt I have for that disreputable sewer trout.

Posted by: Steve on January 3, 2011 at 10:12 AM | PERMALINK

...perhaps best known as an alleged car thief who lied about his military background...

That's just not true!

Because he's best known for the California recall.

Posted by: Grumpy on January 3, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

What @rikyrah said.

Posted by: June on January 3, 2011 at 10:40 AM | PERMALINK

fradiaolo: So why is Obama still so obsessed with bipartisanship?

I often wonder this myself. The optimist in me believes that this is leadership and an attempt to make good on a major promise in his campaign.

Look, we know the Republicans are going to try to shut down every initiative of his for the next two years. But what are they going to accomplish? Nothing. Compare that to the very real accomplishments of the last two years — certainly far less than I would have hoped, but still much more than the GOP wanted to concede — and perhaps the politics of hyper-partisanship will finally be revealed for what it is: governmental failure on an enormous level.

Hopefully voters will wake up to the reality that our congresspeople are elected to get shit done and that sending conservatives who do not believe in the benefits of a well-run government to Congress is counterproductive.

Posted by: chrenson on January 3, 2011 at 10:51 AM | PERMALINK

Issa is pathetic. His claim that this Administration is corrupt appears to be based on nothing more than the size of the TARP bailout (most of which was distributed during the Bush Administration and most of which has now been returned) and the size of the stimulus bill. It would appear that Issa simply assumes that the more money spent, the more corruption occurs. That is, of course, nonsense.

Let's see this guy do the classic "put up or shut up".

Posted by: DRF on January 3, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK

I do not like to see pundits and bloggers describe GOP operatives as "deranged". Issa is almost certainly not deranged. He is most likely deluded, whether he is willfully lying or willfully ignorant of the facts. "Deranged" lets him off the hook as it describes mental illness. Where as, he is responsible for his own delusion.

Posted by: AK Liberal on January 3, 2011 at 12:54 PM | PERMALINK

It seems that "corrupt" to Issa means "gives stuff to people," because that has the effect of "corrupting" them into a position of dependency and diminishing their liberty. He doesn't really mean that the Obama administration is rewarding cronies, he means that it's making people depend on the government, which is essentially a metaphysical form of "corruption." It's actually a very old way of talking about liberty, from Roman times, continuing into the 18th century. Sounds like a "Constitutional conservative" dog-whistle to me.

Posted by: FlipYrWhig on January 3, 2011 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

"So why is Obama still so obsessed with bipartisanship?" fra diaolo @ 8:49 AM.

Because for any legislative measure to stand the test of time, it's necessary that a MAJORITY of citizens supports it. Neither party alone has a majority, therefore to get one some Republicans are needed. At least that's the way it USED to work.
Personally, I think neither the Democratic nor Republican parties will ever again get 50% or more of voters to self-identify as party supporters. They will, certainly, get 50% or more of VOTERS to vote for their policies, but that isn't the same thing at all. President Obama needs, I think, to concentrate less on getting Republican politicians to support him and more on getting the non-identified voters to do so.

Regarding Rep. Issa and his fears of "corruption":
While I do like FlipYrWhig's idea of a "Constitutional Conservatism" dog-whistle, perhaps the Representative from California is merely expecting Democrats to act as Republicans do?
I believe it's called "projection"...

Posted by: Doug on January 3, 2011 at 10:07 PM | PERMALINK



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