Considerable effort was put into capturing C-Span and private video tapings which were then carefully edited by the Majority to control the public’s impression of the hearing. These edited segments, which omitted facts Waxman was eager to suppress, but advanced favorite Democratic attack lines, were then placed on You Tube. Thus, with some backhanded editing and misdirection, Democrat loyalists of Henry Waxman gained valuable free ads to use in their campaign commercials —all at taxpayer expense.
But it important to note that a Waxman oversight committee lynching, a true circus, also depended on a compliant victim, often too astounded at the brazen daring of ill-informed committee members, and often, under the illusion that the hearing was about finding out facts.
The compliant victim is often unwilling to fully expose the ignorance of congressmen, especially the chairman, whom the witness often believes deserves respect due to the office. And, the members, in turn, are counting on the civility of the witness to ensure that their ignorance will never be exposed. How can Americans tell when one of these kinds of show trials is occurring? Here’s another clue.
You will see a congressional staffer scuttling behind committee members with little slips of paper on which questions have been written. Remember, the members haven’t read the material, so the Majority staff often distributes comments, questions and talking points for the member to parrot. Like many Americans, Darrel Issa became appalled and disgusted with Henry Waxman’s dishonest kangaroo courts.
No doubt, too, as he now assumes the job as Majority Leader, Issa hopes to raise the bar and provide the nation with a more responsible example of how the Oversight Committee conducts itself under his leadership.
I expect great things from Issa’s committee and am hopeful that, at long last, we can watch a congressional hearing and take pride in our democracy in action. After all, aggressive oversight is important to protect the American taxpayer and ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent well. But, oversight which relies on bullying and manipulating facts is abusive, un-American, and shameful.
So that may be why the White House is nervous. Obama and his staff are likely worried that the same kangaroo court mentality that Henry Waxman used to unfairly bludgeon the Bush Administration will be continued by Darell Issa.
I understand the fear, but Obama can relax. Congressman Issa is a better man then Henry Waxman.