Republicans in Danger of Falling Prey to Unintended Consequences
Two things may happen this week:
A contempt-of-congress order against Attorney General Eric Holder may be issued by the full House.
The U.S. Supreme Court may find that the Affordable Care Act is unconstitutional.
Both of these are big news. Really big news. Only one of them, however, is of a nature that will be almost 100% favorable to the Republican Party, and that’s the Court decision, even if only the “mandate” is struck down. In fact, even if the law is upheld as constitutional. No matter how the decision goes, it falls mostly to the benefit of Republicans, either in fact or for strategic purposes. Yet while waiting for that to be announced, the House may fall all over itself in an attempt to affix responsibility for the death of Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry (and incidentally to make Eric Holder look bad), and in doing so give the Obama Administration a chance to have their friends in the MSM deflect the “big” story from the court decision to the House’s action.
IMO, that will be a mistake on two levels, even though AG Holder richly deserves the C-of-C finding. On the first level, as I noted, it’s a distraction Republicans shouldn’t want. The Obamacare law is one the public in general doesn’t agree with, and the more it’s in the public’s mind the more it benefits Republicans. Yes, they have to be able to do something with it, but at least it’s something they can do something with. The C-of-C charge is another matter.
No matter that the underlying outrage, Operation Fast and Furious, is 100% a product of the Obama justice department, despite their obfuscations about Operation Wide Receiver. No matter that it’s pretty obvious that a coverup of some kind has been going on for some time, and that the documents requested by the House committee are legitimate objects of investigation on that basis alone, it can still be spun by the Democrats and their MSM allies that the inquiry is a political witch hunt, a fishing expedition designed to find, not the truth, but simply something with which to attack the Obama administration during the election campaign. It’s neither the legal nor political big winner that some Republicans think it to be. Why let it get in the way of the real winner, the defeat of Obamacare?
On the next level, it’s a mistake to go ahead with the contempt citation from the full House anyway, based on the expected sequence of events to follow. The Contempt-of-Congress citation is issued. President Obama stonewalls the request for documents, continuing to cite executive privilege. This puts the issue in limbo until one party or the other appeals to the courts, the Supreme Court, which will be in recess by the end of this week. Little more will happen until the court reconvenes in October, because there will now be no reason for the executive branch to pretend to be cooperative, and there is no way the House committee can compel testimony regarding anything of significance–executive privilege goes far enough to stop them if the President wants to, and he will want to. Meanwhile, the MSM will portray the House Oversight Committee as a bully and the AG and the President as the aggrieved victims. All of that works to the advantage of the Democrats.
What should be done instead? Leave things as they are today. Invent a reason to delay the C-of-C vote. Let the House Oversight Committee continue to hold hearings and call witnesses, point out more specifically what AG Holder is not complying with and why that’s important, and basically keep the issue in the pubic eye, not as an attempt to harm Holder, but as an attempt to find out “who knew what, and when.” Quote Senator Sam Ervin whenever possible. Hammer on the discrepancies within the various stories told by the Justice Department, on the coverup, and on the non-transparency of the administration’s positions; in October, if necessary, then issue a C-of-C finding from the full House.
I may be wrong about all of this, but I hope the Republican leadership has at least considered it before they vote to find the Attorney General of the United States in contempt of Congress. If I’m right, it could be a distraction that will dislodge the country’s economic problems from the front pages for a significant part of the campaign, and that will be to the President’s benefit.