Contrary to the political left’s post-election ravings, Darrell Issa is proving to be no Joe McCarthy… and that’s a bad thing for efforts to get a grip on the rogue Obama EPA.
Today’s House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing on rising energy costs — featuring EPA administrator Lisa Jackson and Interior deputy secretary David Hayes as the only witnesses — should have been the hearing where Chairman Issa (R-Calif.) shined. Instead he and his Committee’s members dulled. Issa even imploded at one point.
Though the Obama administration is waging a war against fossil fuel production and use through the EPA, Department of Interior and other agencies, generally unprepared and undisciplined GOP Committee members could scarcely lay a glove on the very prepared Jackson and Hayes, who were ably supported by prepared Committee Democrats.
Hayes tried to credit the Obama administration for recent increased oil production — even though that increased production is due to actions taken years ago by the Bush administration. If you were paying close attention to the exchange with Hayes, you’d get the point — but then no one drove the point home, much less did anyone spotlight Hayes’ credit-grabbing disingenuousness.
Some Republicans tried to spotlight EPA overregulation being a hindrance to jobs and the economy, but Jackson countered with the bogus correlation that the air is 60 percent cleaner and the economy 200 percent larger since the EPA emerged on the scene. There was no challenge from the GOP side because none of them seem to know anything about the EPA’s reliance on junk science and junk economics — something readily apprehended from “EPA’s Clean Air Act: Pretending air pollution is worse than it is.”
Rep. Anna Marie Buerkle (R-NY) started a promising line of questioning by challenging Jackson’s constant references to industry as “polluters” — but she never got around to strongly admonishing Jackson for her excessive rhetoric.
Rep. Raul Labrador (R-ID) spotlighted Jackson’s appearance on The Daily Show near the end of the hearing, but only in the context of her comments that Washington DC is a “fact-free” zone allegedly because of industry spinmeisters. Labrador failed to note that EPA is within that alleged “fact-free” zone and more distressingly, he failed to bring up Jackson’s recent Daily Show ranting about mercury emissions “destroying children’s brains.”
Rep. Connie Mack (R-FL) well articulated the negative impact the EPA is having on Florida business, but he spoke only in generalities during the few minutes he had to speak, so not much came of his questioning.
One clueless GOP Committee member, whose name luckily escapes memory, used his time to read well-intended but really lame-o questions from constituents about cap-and-trade (a dead issue in the 112th Congress) from his Facebook page.
Issa embarrassed himself and the Committee by stopping Hayes from testifying about the Gulf drilling moratorium lest he commit perjury. Why Issa wouldn’t allow the witness to lie, if that’s what he intended to do, is beyond me. But Issa’s interruption of the witness brought on a melodramatic response from Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD), who rightly pointed out that Issa had essentially accused Hayes of being a liar without even giving him the chance to lie.
After last November’s election when Issa was picked to lead the Committee and Isaa vowed to conduct many investigations of the Obama administration, the left howled and pre-emptively accused Issa of being another Joe McCarthy.
But in my Washington Times column “Memo to Issa: Channel Joe McCarthy” (Nov. 10, 2010), I urged Issa to embrace McCarthy given Wisconsin firebrand’s gutsy and successful effort to spotlight previously swept-under-the-rug or undiscovered Communist infiltration of the U.S. government the early 1950s:
Mr. Issa will need much personal fortitude and persistence. He’ll need a staff of steel to conduct the much-needed investigations that he envisions. He’ll need the stuff of which Joe McCarthy was made.
Sadly, Issa has so far turned out to be more Jennie McCarthy than Joe McCarthy — and that is profoundly disappointing.
If Issa is to productively use his Committee, he needs to be better prepared and to focus his investigations in narrow areas where he can achieve success. He should have experienced and knowledgable counsel take testimony from witnesses — think Roy Cohn. Forget having ill-equipped GOP congressmen take the lead in interviewing witnesses — they’re just don’t have a clue on how to go about it. Stop asking open-ended question that give witnesses room to filibuster time away.
By allowing the scoundrel EPA to get away with blocking economic growth for no environmental or public health benefit, Issa is doing more harm than good.