|GOP Fails a Gut-Czech|
By Quin Hillyer
Wednesday, December 14 2011
When Republican senators won’t even support one of their own senior members in blocking an Obama nominee on ethics grounds, for blatant dishonesty to the senator’s staff and blatant misfeasance regarding an inspector general, one wonders if they have even an ounce of fortitude.
This latest example of craven capitulation continues a string of cases where Republican senators failed to wage a necessary fight, or fought it with so little real enthusiasm or intelligence that it barely resembled a battle.
Here’s what happened: On Monday, the Senate voted 70-16 to invoke cloture on (end what amounted to a filibuster against) the nomination of one Norman Eisen to be Ambassador to the Czech Republic. Twenty-one Republicans voted to move Eisen’s nomination forward, and ten more abstained. They did this although Chuck Grassley, the respected Iowa Republican who is ranking member on the Judiciary Committee, issued a seven-page statement strongly opposing the nomination. Grassley’s reasons were substantial and sound. They encompassed serious concerns involving the very core of congressional oversight responsibilities. Yet his own party’s caucus could not be bothered to stand on principle with Grassley.
Norm Eisen was the member of the White House Counsel’s staff who handled the improper firing of Gerald Walpin, the inspector general for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), which oversees AmeriCorps. Mr. Walpin had crossed the White House on two matters involving cronies or favorites of the Obamas, especially by blowing the whistle on corrupt practices by Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson, a prominent supporter and self-proclaimed personal friend of the First Couple.
In response, Eisen summarily dismissed Mr. Walpin without the required 30-day notice and without properly informing Congress. Worse, when he did finally provide an explanation, he smeared Mr. Walpin by falsely implying the IG was senile. Worst of all, he actively resisted cooperat ion with Sen. Grassley’s inquiry into the matter. Grassley explains:
“[M]y staff met with Eisen to try to learn more. During an interview with congressional staff on June 17, 2009, Mr. Eisen refused to answer at least 12 direct questions. I wrote to the White House Counsel’s office immediately after the interview. I listed the 12 questions he refused to answer and asked for written answers. I never got a satisfactory reply. So, I had to gather the facts independently. Mr. Eisen did provide some information during his interview that day. The problem is, the information turned out not to be true.”
Sen. Grassley then detailed, at exhaustive but necessary length, exactly how, and how deliberately, Eisen’s dishonesty was made manifest. Grassley explained, beyond a doubt, that the White House and Eisen broke faith with Congress in five ways: first by abusing the independence of inspectors general; second by failing (originally) to give congress the required notice of and explanation for the dismissal; third by stonewalling and then prevaricating to Congress about the firing; fourth by stiffing Senate interviewers when Eisen was first put up for the ambassadorship, and fifth by temporarily installing Eisen in the ambassadorship anyway via recess appointment, traducing the spirit (if not the letter) of the “advice and consent” clause of the Constitution.
“We need to send a signal that congressional oversight matters,” Grassley all-but-begged his colleagues. “We need to send a signal that there are consequences to misleading Congress.”
His colleagues responded with a collective yawn. Even as the Obama administration repeatedly stiffs Congress on matters ranging from the Fast and Furious gun-running scandal to FOIA requests to the Black Panther scandal and to information about judicial nominees, Republican senators can be stirred to only the mildest of protests. When the manifestly troubling Supreme Court nomination of Sonia Sotomayor was under consideration, most of the Republican senators were inept at questioning her and indeed deliberately avoided the toughest, most relevant line of questioning.
With the Obama administration going to unprecedented lengths to push bogus “civil rights” theories in a way that would enable vote fraud, and with an utterly explosive book out detailing massive corruption at Obama’s Justice Department, one would think Republican senators – or, better yet, members of the House Republican majority – would be insisting on major public hearings on the well-documented evidence amassed by former Justice whistleblower J. Christian Adams.
Instead, more yawns. With a few exceptions, they also yawned even as the Obama administration put roadblocks in the way of efforts to ensure that military personnel stationed abroad could vote, and have their votes counted, in the 2010 elections.
These are derelictions of duty. Indeed, congressmen of both parties ought to pursue these subjects, regardless of how the politics play out. Republicans especially may say that such hearings won’t be politically useful because they draw attention away from Obama’s poor economic stewardship. Even if that were true: So what? This isn’t about politics; it’s about honest, constitutional government. Apparently that’s not high on Congress’s list of priorities.
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