Criticism Politics The Opinionsphere

Stop Whining, Congressman Issa

[digg-reddit-me]Congressional Republicans got their knickers in a bunch this week sending off a quite nasty letter in response to what they allege (citing the Politico) to be hardball political tactics of Rahm Emanuel pushing back against Senator Jon Kyl.

This all supposedly started when Senator Kyl on This Week With George Stephanopoulos took on the stimulus bill:

KYL: Yes. And with respect to the stimulus, I think it’s now acknowledged, it hasn’t done what it set out to do.

STEPHANOPOULOS: But your government says it has in Arizona.

KYL: No. What our – look, all governors like “free money” coming to the state. My governor is no different. But the reality is that it has added to our deficit. We’re now going to have a $1.8 trillion deficit this year.

It seems more plausible that these rather mild remarks aren’t what started this, but the general push by Senator Kyl to cancel the stimulus bill that included an op-ed published a week before this in which he explained:

With the results now in, it’s not a surprise that a recent Rasmussen poll found that 45 percent of Americans want to cancel the rest of the stimulus spending.  I agree.

In response to Kyl’s attempts to cancel the stimulus bill, Rahm Emanuel – according to Politico – had several department heads responsible for distributing stimulus funds write to the Republican Arizona governor, who is on the record as supporting the bill and saying it is working for her state, asking her if she agreed with Senator Kyl and wished to cancel any future funding from the stimulus. In some variation or another, the letters made this point:

On Sunday, Arizona Senator Jon Kyl publicly questioned whether the stimulus is working and stated that he wants to cancel projects that aren’t presently underway. I believe the stimulus has been very effective in creating job opportunities throughout the country. However, if you prefer to forfeit the money we are making available to your state, as Senator Kyl suggests, please let me know…

Darrell Issa, a California Republican Congressman, accepted Politico’s characterization that it was an “assault” on Kyl, as well as a “fist to the nose,”  and a message to “Back off.” In a letter to Emanuel (pdf), Issa asked:

At what point do you believe your practice of Chicago-style politics violates a public official’s right to speak out in favor of alternative policies?

All of this seems fair and good to me – it’s politics. If Issa thinks he’ll win points whining, then all the power to him. If Emanuel thinks he can get the Republican governor of Arizona and potential presidential candidate and Senator from Arizona Jon Kyl squabbling, then all the power to him.

But on style points, Issa loses. His letter which implies that Emanual is violating the right of public officials to speak out in favor of alternative policies. This is the same Issa who sided with Dick Cheney’s office after they outed an undercover CIA agent because her husband spoke out against the Iraq war; and the same Issa who obstructed debate on the reauthorization of FISA until a fellow Congressman withdrew his comments that the Bush administration had broken the law. Over his career then, not much attention given to the right of public officials to speak their minds – unless they agree with him. Blatant hypocrisy while whining about objective standards always loses you style points.

I have a question for Congressman Issa ( At what point does your arugula-sniffing, California-style oversensitive, politics of umbrage idiocy get old?

You’re in Congress. Grow up. If you’re in Washington trying to play hardball, don’t whine when someone on your team takes a hit.

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