September 08, 2011 11:28 am ET - by Brian Powell
"Baseless 'whining.'" That's how a spokesman for Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA ) reportedly described these comments from U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder (who was commenting on Operation Fast and Furious, a failed ATF investigation currently under review by DOJ's Inspector General and by the Oversight Committee):
"The notion that somehow or other this thing reaches into the upper levels of the Justice Department is something that. ... I don't think is supported by the facts," Holder told reporters at an unrelated press conference in Washington. "It's kind of something I think certain members of Congress would like to see, the notion that somehow or other high-level people in the department were involved. As I said, I don't think that is going to be shown to be the case -- which doesn't mean that the mistakes were not serious. [...]
"My hope would be that Congress will conduct an investigation that is factually based and not marred with politics."
"Whining"? Leaving aside the question of whether this is the kind of language congressional staff should be using to describe the Attorney General of the United States, or that it's a serious stretch to describe the above comments as anything resembling whining, does Issa's camp take a look at their boss's recent behavior before they issue statements like these?
Issa's record of oversight investigations, some of which have been described as overtly partisan "sabotage," has been the ultimate exercise in congressional cantankerousness. Whether it's the Oversight Committee's insolent attacks on Elizabeth Warren (described by Rep. Cooper (D-TN) as a "food fight" and "dysfunctional") or Issa's use of imaginative and hyperbolic rhetoric, his tenure as chairman of one of the most important committees in Congress has been less than illustrious.
In July, The Hill described Issa's leadership on Oversight as "more sizzle...than substance" and noted that Issa has had "difficulty finding issues that stick, beyond sound bites and flash headlines." If Issa wants to be taken seriously, he would do well to rein in the finger-pointing and childish statements like the one made about Holder and spend more time making substantive arguments that will help reform the efficiency of the institutions he's supposed to be monitoring.
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