Curtains For Rep. Issa's Credibility

July 28, 2011 12:20 pm ET — Matt Gertz

It's not unusual for Rep. Darrell Issa (R-CA) to use the House Oversight Committee to conduct partisan witch-hunts. What is unusual is for him to actually admit that that is what he's doing.

As we've noted, ethics experts — including President Bush's ethics lawyer — have panned the Republican allegations that President Obama or the Democratic National Committee broke federal election law when Obama filmed a campaign video and met with donors in the White House. Issa recently announced plans to investigate those claims, seeking documents from the White House and planning to call administration witnesses.

What's surprising is how brazen Issa is in admitting that he's holding these hearings because he thinks they'll "be good theater." From The Washington Times:

He likened his investigation to a probe conducted by the committee's previous chair, Rep. Henry Waxman, California Democrat, who investigated the use of RNC e-mail accounts by 88 White House officials under Mr. Bush. 

"It'll be good theater," Mr. Issa said. "The Democrats will make the claim that somehow we were wrong. And we'll remind them that this isn't much different than what Waxman looked at. And then it will end. The sad truth is, the most we can do on our committee is the equivalent of a pitcher who gets tired of a batter crowding the plate. Our hearings can maybe brush him [the president] back a little.

Issa is comparing his forthcoming investigation to one that he openly mocked. During a 2008 hearing into the use of RNC e-mail accounts, he suggested that the committee was "going on a fishing expedition" and compared Waxman to a "peeping tom" who wanted "Karl Rove's every thinking, including correspondence with a wife or a girlfriend or an old buddy."

It's difficult to see how Issa can possibly be taken seriously after acknowledging that his hearings are geared toward getting attention and grabbing headlines, instead of pursuing legitimate ends. Indeed, Issa's statements are at odds with his promise to use his committee to "make the people's government work better for them" instead of as "a political weapon against the occupant of the Oval Office."