Has there ever been a time when 18-term liberal Democratic Rep. Henry Waxman's nostrils weren't flaring indignantly at corporate executives and entrepreneurs? The man wields his gavel over the free market like a Damoclean sword. He throws the weight of his congressional chairmanship around like a sumo wrestler walking across hot stones. For more than 35 years, Waxman has made it his taxpayer-funded business to use the power of government to undermine private business.
No one should be surprised by his latest thuggish efforts to silence companies speaking out about the cost implications and financial burdens of Demcare -- least of all, those companies.
This is the Eliot Ness-wannabe who serves proudly as the left's chief inquisitor. This is the Capitol Hill haranguer who herded tobacco company CEOs in front of the cameras, made them raise their right hands and cackled as he forced them to testify under oath about the evils of their products. Waxman's demagoguery then was so over the top that it prompted Washington Post columnist William Raspberry to write that the "Capitol Hill inquisition masquerading as legislative hearings reminds me of nothing so much as a witch-hunting Joe McCarthy."
Last month, Waxman stacked the deck at the Toyota inquisition hearing with auto industry-bashing Naderites. In 2007, he held court over the Valerie Plame show trial. And in February 2008, he wasted four hours on a nationally televised interrogation of baseball legend Roger Clemens and his trainer. Republicans called Waxman out on his Captain Queeg-ish vendetta against Clemens. The debacle was dubbed a "Roman Circus." After squandering public resources on congressional showboating over steroid use, Waxman himself confessed that he "didn't think it was a hearing that needed to be held."
When he isn't abusing the deliberative process to add to his press-clipping collection and serve up red meat (er, blue meat) for the TV airwaves, he's short-circuiting hearings to ram through political power grabs masquerading as "reform." Waxman pushed massively expensive, complicated cap-and-tax legislation through the House last year by leapfrogging over subcommittee debate. He also staved off Republican efforts to slow down and scrutinize the behemoth bill by hiring a "speed reader" to plow through the 900-page bill during mark-up.