Darrell Issa + Contempt Charges for Eric Holder = Terrible idea for Republicans

GOP Congressman Darrell Issa is pushing for contempt charges against Attorney General Eric Holder, apparently believing that Holder has not been forthcoming enough with requested documents relating to the “Fast and Furious” controversy.

For those not familiar, “Fast and Furious” is not just a crappy Vin Diesel movie, it’s also the name of an ATF operation that allowed known criminals to purchase guns, and take them across the border to Mexico to sell or give to even bigger criminals.  The idea apparently was to use the guns as a way to get to the “bigger fish” and arrest them.  Frankly, it sounds like an incredibly stupid and dangerous idea to me, but… hey, I’m not in law enforcement, I wasn’t there, and I suppose it could’ve sounded okay on paper.  Trouble is, a number of these guns ended up being used in actual crimes, with actual victims.

Okay, but back to Issa.  Let’s look at the merits of Issa’s case first, and then the politics of it.

The Merits 

There are none.  Issa is frankly full of it.  Holder has testified 7 times before Congress, and the Justice Department has produced thousands and thousands of documents already.  This hardly shows “contempt.”

Eric Holder could show up with every document produced since the Ten Commandments, and personally submit himself to a cavity search, and Issa still wouldn’t be satisfied.  Why?  Because this isn’t about the case itself, it’s about politics.  Issa knows that picking a fight with Holder and the Obama administration raises his profile, and (he thinks) makes Obama look bad/corrupt/etc by association.

Here’s why Issa is full of it:

  • This “gun-walking” program goes back to 2006, with a predecessor program “Wide Receiver.” I’m still waiting for Issa to rant about contempt charges against Bush administration officials.
  • Issa’s realization that guns are dangerous and kill people comes only after years and years of voting in lockstep with the NRA against a whole host of eminently reasonable gun restrictions.  It’s odd that he seems to care about guns being used to kill people only when they’re outside the US borders.

He’s not running an investigation, he’s running an inquisition.

The Politics 

Issa and the GOP is running a HUGE risk if they push forward with this.  America is sick and tired of “investigations” that are really just partisan witch hunts.   The last thing they want is a Kenneth Star 2.0.

Plus, this case will appear patently absurd to the typical American.   A guy shows up 7 times and that’s supposed to be contempt?  Really?  After Issa and other Republicans pushed back hard against contempt charges against Bush administration officials who wouldn’t show up even once?

This will be seen as overreaching, big time.  And for some voters in the middle, it could be the straw that breaks the camel’s back.

The only Republican this will benefit politically is Darrell Issa, who will be seen as a champion of the “Obama derangement syndrome” wing of his party.  But for the rest of them, this will be a net negative.

 

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About John Hlinko

John Hlinko is a frequent political pundit on TV, and the founder of Left Action, a network of over 1 million activists. He is also the author of, "Share, Retweet, Repeat: Get Your Message Read and Spread," ranked by Amazon.com as the # 1 "hot new release" in web marketing in early 2012. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook
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