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June 2, 2006
Eine Kleine Chin Musik

E.J. Dionne notes the extension of the hysteria in Congress over the raid on William Jefferson's Capitol Hill office, and likens it to a baseball game. The Congressional Republicans think they are employing a brushback pitch, but in this case they look more like the St. Louis Cardinals in the final game of the 1985 World Series. They have melted down beyond all sense, conducting silly hearings and making threats of impeachment against officials in the Department of Justice, in an attempt to intimidate anyone with the temerity to investigate corruption in DC:

In baseball, the hurler intimidates the batter with a brushback pitch. In soccer, the official warns an unruly player by pulling out a yellow card.

Politicians in legal jeopardy thunder and moan, threatening prosecutors while cloaking their pressure tactics in the grand language of constitutional rights and democracy. ...

The hearing was dominated by talk of abuses of power by long-dead monarchs and the need of the people's representatives for untrammeled communication with their constituents.

But Rep. James Sensenbrenner's committee was really sending a message as the House confronts a far-reaching corruption investigation: Nice little Justice Department you have there, Mr. Attorney General. Too bad if anything were to happen to it. Stop messing with us before we mess with you.

Why are the Republicans continuing to shoot themselves in the foot over this perfectly legal execution of a search warrant? Now we have the spectacle of GOP leadership in James Sensenbrenner and Darrell Issa threatening to impeach the Attorney General for investigating corruption. Nice. And not a word about the fact that the House sat on the subpoena that occasioned the search warrant for nine months.

Dionne suggests that the reason Republicans seem so interested in demanding immunity from the Justice Department is a worry that Republicans might also be under investigation. Well, that's certainly possible, but in this case political stupidity probably explains more than political cupidity. They want to show their independence from an unpopular White House in time for the upcoming election. Notice that none of this bellowing has emanated from the Senate, where Republican leadership has more political sense, and apparently owns a copy of the Constitution.

If Hastert, Sensenbrenner, Issa, and the rest of the GOP House leadership thinks this will help them get re-elected, they are deluding themselves. Only 27% of the voters think Congress has any integrity at all, and this high-profile attempt at intimidating investigators will only drive that number in the wrong direction. We already face a throw-the-bims-out electorate this fall, and now these GOP geniuses want to tell 86% of the American public that supported the execution of the search warrant that they have contributed to building an American dictatorship -- simply because a Congressman had to abide by the same laws as the rest of us?

If this really were a baseball game, I'd have concluded that this team deserves to lose.

I'd almost like to see Issa attempt an impeachment against Gonzalez. I, for one, would gladly contribute whatever I could afford to Issa's opponent in the fall election, regardless of party affiliation. If Issa and Sensenbrenner want to see how chin music really works, let them continue to crowd the plate and demand a free pass from the umpires when a pitch hits them.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 2, 2006 6:24 AM

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» Congressional GOP [Bleep]-Up Scoreboard from Hard Starboard
Two congressman - James Sensenbrenner and Darrell Issa, both 'Pubbies - reportedly threatened to impeach Attorney-General Alberto Gonzales if the FBI didn't return the evidence seized under lawful warrant from the office of Representative should-be-d... [Read More]

Tracked on June 5, 2006 4:57 PM


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