Rep. Darrell Issa Sunday said the Obama administration is "one of the most corrupt"--a slight downgrade, since a few months ago, Issa said the president himself was one of the most corrupt "in modern times." President Obama might brush aside the confrontational clarification as typical Sunday talk show bluster if it weren't for the the fact that Issa has subpoena power. Issa is the incoming chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, and he plans to preside over hundreds of investigations into the administration.But despite his fiery rhetoric, Issa says he's not going to focus on prosecuting White House staffers. Instead, he's hunting for wasteful spending. (Obama's alleged corruption, Issa says, involves the Troubled Asset Relief Program, which the president is using like "presidential earmarks.") Obama is going to need to hire more accountants than lawyers, Issa said, promising to save taxpayers about $200 billion. His main focus will be Medicare fraud, The Washington Post's Philip Rucker reports, and food and drug safety.
- What About This Guy--You Might Have Heard of Him--Richard Nixon? Outside the Beltway's Doug Mataconis asks. "Is Issa really saying that the Obama Administration is on a par with the Nixon Administration, which included a Vice-President who was forced to resign over tax evasion, staffers who engaged in illegal activity associated with the 1972 Presidential campaign, and a President who participated in an effort to cover-up that activity and was then forced to resign himself ?" Argues Mataconis: "As has become far too typical in modern politics, [Issa is] using a word like 'corrupt,' which to an ordinary person connotes criminal activity of some kind, to condemn policy differences he has with the Administration..."
- Lawmakers Must Be Careful with Language, Commentary's Peter Wehner writes. "There are plenty of legitimate reasons to go after Mr. Obama and his administration. Charging them with being the most liberal administration in our history, or even as among the more pernicious in our lifetime, is, I think, fair. But charging them with being among the most corrupt isn't."
- Issa Is a Confused Man, The Washington Monthly's Steve Benen writes. TARP was a Bush proposal, he points out, and taxpayers have been almost fully paid back. "If Issa sees this as evidence of 'corruption,' someone should have bought him a dictionary for Christmas. ... For Issa, who's never been accused of being the sharpest crayon in the box, it seems 'corrupt' is another word for 'stuff I don't like.'"
- A Sign of Ambition "This sweeping and specific hearing agenda shows that Issa (R-Calif.) plans to cut a wide swath as chairman, latching onto hot button issues that could make his committee the center of attention in the opening months of the 112th Congress," Politico's Jake Sherman explains. "By grabbing such a wide portfolio--especially in national security matters--Issa is also laying down a marker of sorts, which could cement his panel as the go-to place for investigations."
- Remember Dan Burton? Creative Loafing 's Mitch Perry asks. Burton was "the Indiana Republican Congressman who single-handedly tried to bring down Bill Clinton's presidency, issuing over 1,000 subpoenas against the Clinton administration before anyone had even heard of Monica Lewinsky?" What happened to him? "He's actually still in Congress, but is no longer making headlines such as shooting pumpkins in his backyard to prove to skeptics that Vince Foster couldn't have killed himself. Is that who... Issa wants to emulate as he steps into his role of being President Obama's chief agonistes?"