WASHINGTON -- Two weeks after the 2006 elections put Democrats in charge of Congress, Time magazine depicted Rep. Henry Waxman, now the chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, as "The Scariest Guy in Washington." In the column by Karen Tumulty, the ultraliberal Beverly Hills Democrat is portrayed as "tenacious," and Tumulty says there is "no one tougher." Quoting from the left-wing magazine The Nation, she calls the Napoleonic Waxman the "Eliot Ness of the Democrats" and describes those who work for him as "one of the most highly regarded staffs on Capitol Hill."
In the blatant Time puff piece, Tumulty gushes, "What Waxman does love to do is write laws, and he has been extraordinarily good at it." She also quotes Waxman as saying his role as committee chairman will give him free rein to investigate "everything that the government is involved with (sic)." Notwithstanding the poor grammar, that may be the most accurate statement in the article.
Since becoming committee chairman, Waxman has initiated numerous investigations into the activities of the Bush administration. According to his own news releases, he has probed -- if that's the right word -- the case of Valerie Plame, the celebrity CIA operative; Karl Rove; medical treatment at Walter Reed Army Medical Center; Karl Rove; Defense Department and State Department contracting practices; Vice President Dick Cheney; Karl Rove; construction and hiring practices at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; and the democratically elected government of Iraq, and he has tried to smear the White House over erroneous reports on the tragic death of Pat Tillman and the rescue of Jessica Lynch. Other than reducing entire forests to pulp for the paper to print his reports, the American people, in whose name all this is being done, have precious little to show for his tireless work.
Notwithstanding Waxman's billing as a legislator who loves to "write laws, and he has been extraordinarily good at it," only three of the 95 bills he has sponsored in the past decade have been enacted. Seventy-seven of them were so good that they didn't even make their way out of committee.Waxman's supporters describe him as a crusader for transparency in government. But the Time magazine flattery feature failed to disclose that the Time Warner Political Action Committee was the number one donor -- $13,500 -- to his 2006 re-election campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Perhaps this revelation will prompt him to investigate the Federal Election Commission.
Apparently Waxman's quest for full accountability in government contracting applies only to Republicans. According to Politico, a Capitol Hill publication, the FBI and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service have been exploring whether Reps. Paul Kanjorski and Jack Murtha of Pennsylvania -- both cronies of Waxman -- improperly earmarked millions of dollars in defense contracts to a firm owned by members of Kanjorski's family. Thus far, Waxman has indicated no interest in the matter.
Perhaps that's because "one of the most highly regarded staffs on Capitol Hill" has a few problems of its own. In July, while investigating hiring abuses in the construction of the new U.S. Embassy in Baghdad, this vaunted staff "invited" -- to use Waxman's word -- Mr. Rory Mayberry to testify about how the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad was being built by kidnapped Filipino workers.
At the time, Mayberry was described as a whistle-blower who had courageously come forward to describe how unwilling Filipinos were dragooned into building our diplomatic mission. All the major news networks covered his shocking "revelations." But this week, The Wall Street Journal's "Washington Wire" revealed that the committee's star witness "has a string of convictions going back to the mid-1980s, including two for forgery, one for burglary and a fourth for welfare fraud." So much for good staff work.
When Prince appears before Waxman next week, he should expect to be accorded all the same "courtesies" granted to Gen. Petraeus when he testified a few weeks ago. His integrity is being impugned already by selective leaks to the media.
The fact that 30 Blackwater security personnel have been killed protecting American officials -- without losing any of their protectees -- doesn't seem to matter. Interestingly, Waxman himself has been the beneficiary of their courage and skill during his visit to Iraq. Yet given the committee's zeal to destroy any and all associated with the Bush administration, no good deed will go unpunished. Given this behavior, is it any wonder that Congress has an 11 percent approval rating from the American public?