All investigations, all the time

Posted: May 11, 2006 12:06 AM

Several weeks ago, in an interview for the liberal blog, Daily Kos, Democrat Congressman Brad Miller (from my state of North Carolina) revealed one aspect of the Democrats’ upcoming agenda in the event they are successful in recapturing the House this fall.

“The Democrats on the House Science Committee are collecting stories of the intimidation or censoring of scientists. We’re building a case for hearings by the Committee, which may be unrealistic to expect under the current majority, or to be ready for hearings next year if Democrats gain the majority in November.”

After reading the Miller interview, I wrote the following at Polipundit about the Democrats’ agenda: “From the talk of impeachment and from things I have read like this, I see they are definitely sending the message that if they retake the House and/or Senate, that is what their agenda would be. I think they should run on that. If they choose not to, maybe Republicans should make voters aware of the all-investigations-all-the-time agenda Democrats seem to be proposing.”

I assumed that Democrats, not wanting to be seen as an army of Ken Starr wannabes, might keep their dreams of subpoena power largely confined to liberal blog territory. Over the weekend, though, Democrats made some public statements which indicated that investigations are indeed a part of their agenda in the event of 2006 election success.

According to a recent Washington Post report, “House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) said in an interview last week that a Democratic House would launch a series of investigations of the Bush administration, beginning with the White House's first-term energy task force and probably including the use of intelligence in the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. Pelosi denied Republican allegations that a Democratic House would move quickly to impeach President Bush. But, she said of the planned investigations, ‘You never know where it leads to.’”

Pelosi continued talk of investigations Sunday on Meet the Press, but she denied that impeachment would be an agenda item for Democrats. "I said we'd be having hearings on the war, we'd have hearings. But I don't see us going to a place of impeachment...Investigation does not equate to impeachment. Investigation is the requirement of Congress. It is about checks and balances.”

Tim Russert, however, directed Pelosi to the message on the website of Congressman John Conyers, who would become the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee if Democrats regained the House. The prominent headline on the front page of Conyers’ website reads: “Stand with Congressman Conyers. Demand an investigation of administration abuses of power and make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.” The message continues, “I am taking steps against the Bush Administration’s handling of the Iraq War and its warrantless wiretapping. I am going to need you to stand with me in fighting for accountability. Join me to demand the creation of a Special Committee to investigate administration abuses of power and make recommendations regarding grounds for possible impeachment.”

Even though Democrats are now speaking publicly about it, I doubt that this all-investigations-all-the-time agenda will be the main focus of their campaign ads leading up to the November elections. This is why I hope that Republicans will make it one. I wonder how many voters, even those disillusioned with the current Republican majority, would want to vote for Democrats just to see them tie up the Congress with investigations through at least 2008.   

I would particularly like to see Democrats push the issue of investigations into “warrantless wiretapping.” Could Republicans possibly get lucky enough to have Democrats campaigning on their desire to protect the rights of Americans who want to talk to terrorists on the telephone? Better yet, could they get lucky enough to have Democrats campaigning that they would be spending taxpayer dollars investigating such “eavesdropping”?  I can’t imagine that they could, but many Democrats are on record taking just that position.  I would not be a bit surprised to see some of those quotes from Democrats calling for such investigations showing up in campaign ads this fall – paid for by their Republican opponents.