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Democrat Arrogance in US House is Self-Defeating

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Members of the Democrat-controlled US House need to think hard about what “overreach” means, and whether their posture undermines America’s respect for the institution. The combination of entitlement, arrogance, ignorance, intransigence and smugness is unappealing to Americans – of every stripes.

For nearly five years, I served as staff director and chief counsel for a congressional oversight committee – managing hearings for the US House, Waco (1995) and Nancy Reagan’s appearance to Defense, State, Justice and NASA (1995-99).  Historically, committee chairs served with dignity, respected witnesses. Honestly, so did ranking minority members, including US House Oversight Committee Chairman, Elijah Cummings who was ranking on our subcommittee. 

But things are changing.  If Democrats are not careful, they will destroy respect for congressional oversight, and make a mockery of what has historically been a constitutional duty.

To be clear, the US Congress has a constitutional right to oversight of executive operations.  Thus, during my tenure as a staff director and counsel, we conducted investigative hearings into lots of misfeasance, malfeasance, and nonfeasance in the executive branch. 

If members liked media, since it affected their reelection, the goal was making government work – accountably and cost-effectiveness.  We did not waste taxpayer money on raw political jousting, disrespect history, aim to embarrass executive witnesses, issue unnecessary subpoenas, hunting documents and conversations that did not exist.  That was not our job.   

Our hearings covered “return on investment” from State programs, capitalization of US Coast Guard, domestic-international balance at the Drug Enforcement Administration, authorization of a cabinet-rank Office of National Drug Control, metrics in substance abuse, defense inventory management, Strategic Defense Initiative, F-18 fighter and V-22, systemic failures within immigration and naturalization.

In short, much of what we did was boring but important, not political.  The second goal was educating the executive branch, ourselves and the public on expectations for public expenditures.

Now, turn the page – to 2019.  What do we have?  In the latest “oversight” hearing, Democrats adopted the Kavanaugh hearing’s entitlement and smugness, impunity and intentional infliction of embarrassment.   The US House Judiciary Committee aimed to humiliate President Trump by spitting accusations at Acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker, with a week left in office. 

The committee’s hubris, grandstanding, insinuation and arrogance was a disgrace.  The truth-finding function of Congress became a slave to politics.  But Democrats are making a grave mistake. America does not like this kind of behavior.  It is unbecoming to the institution and office to which they were elected.

What did these Democrats do?  They made a Shakespearean play of abusing subpoena power, demanding an appearance from a departing official to excoriate him for actions they knew he had not taken, villainized an innocent man – to promote their anti-Trump narrative.  

When the Acting Attorney General agreed to voluntarily appear, explained ongoing investigations are not discussed in public settings, refused to speculate or violate his oath, he was pinioned.  Or that was the aim.

House Judiciary’s Democrat majority, agreement in hand for a voluntary appearance, nevertheless voted to subpoena him, throwing away a century of tradition, dignity and comity between branches.  They played politics, to put him in the wrong.

In the hearing room, things got worse.  They took turns impaling him with insinuations and peppering him with questions they knew were unanswerable or purely political.  Open investigations are not hashed out in public. They knew that.  They asked anyway.

They cut him off, ridiculed him, hurled insinuations at him, and asserted he was involved in “obstruction,” according to Representative Hank Johnson (D-Ga).  Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) demanded repeated answers until the witness snapped back.  Whitaker said: “There has been no event, no decision that has required me to take any action, and I have not interfered in any way with the special counsel’s investigation.” 

Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D-TX), famous for mistreatment of her own staff, resignation from House Judiciary Committee chairmanship for ethical reasons – and for declaring Pathfinder had taken pictures on Mars of the flag Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin planted (Note: That was the moon, not Mars), attacked.  She asked for more time.  The witness piped up.  She lashed out, telling him he was not funny.  If impertinent, it was comic.

There we have it.  Democrat House is empowered, smug and unified in stopping a southern border wall, defending late term abortions, not applauding anything President Trump has done to improve the American economy, national security, international trade, or individual liberties, from faith and free speech to energy independence and an appeal to end enmity. 

Nothing illustrates this odd sense of “all power to socialist control” – traditional oversight made a slave to politics – than the Wall Street Journal’s front page today.  I looked hard at the photos.  A lone witness, honest Acting Attorney General, looking up plaintively at an all-powerful, arrogant congressional panel – their seats five feet above him.    

It was like watching Jimmy Stewart put in that low chair below the all-powerful Mr. Potter in It’s a Wonderful Life.  Dorothy below that fiery Wizard of Oz. There was Chairman Jerry Nadler (D-NY) and his row of Grand Inquisitors leaning over, waving their hands at a lone, lonely witness.

So, 2020 spoiler alert:  Americans do not like this kind of thing.  It smacks of arrogance they despise. Members of the Democrat-controlled US House need to think hard about what “overreach” means, whether their posture undermines America’s respect for the institution – and the high purpose – they serve.  No kidding. 

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Read more articles by Robert B. Charles

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Lynn

I have ZERO respect for the Democrats… slightly higher for the gutless Republicans! The ruling elite need to go home and try and survive under the laws they pass. We need a constitutional amendment mandating term limits, forbidding Congress from exempting themselves from any legislation they pass, placing them under Social Security and ObamaCare, and eliminating retroactively the cushy retirement benefits they have voted for themselves.
It is past time these pigs stop enriching themselves at the public trough! The majority on both sides of the aisle are beneath contempt! Our founders must be spinning in their graves.

Phyllis Kieffer

Well written article. So true of power hungry Democrats. They have no sense of dignity, respect, or professionialism.

Bob L.

I think the Democrats are emboldened and empowered because they have finally got enough control over election results in enough states to put their choices in offices. This free nation is in more danger today than ever in it’s history and as much from within as from outside.

Elizabeth Misa

All I can say is that is a disgrace to our nation and the American people!

Quam Linda

I am embarrassed by the actions of the democratic women at the SOTU. They obviously have no respect for the American people. We are being laughed at by other countries because of them. I say vote out every last one of them and start over!!!

Stephen Russell

Dems are these: Liars, decietful, racists, fraudsters, cheaters, Dble Std, Say 1 thing & do other, Never Deliever( Only more taxes & regulations),
No innovation (only More Govt),& they want “respect” ?
Keep playing these Games, Leftists& soon your out of the Game.
See border wall issue, Pres Trump made TOO many concessions & Dems still wont come to table
& we lose.
See Dems promises for the Inner Cities since 1965 to date.
NO Change, thus LA riots 1992

Pam

Hopefully the American voters will see this and vote Republican. Exposing the truth in front of all is the only way to educate and expose the hearts of those elected to SERVE us, the American public.

Press ONE for English

Sadly, I think the writer is giving “Americans” too much credit. The mere existence of garbage like “Saturday Night Live” is absolute proof that we are devolving as a people. Sure, people who grew up in a different time, as I assume we all did, are represented correctly in the otherwise well thought out and correct article. So are younger people who were brought up properly and taught some degree of respect and common sense. But we have become the exception, and are becoming rare exceptions. These ridiculous hearings show us indisputably that the inmates are running the asylum.

Mike Hess

Very well said !!

David T.

Elections have consequences, the Republicans squandered much of their majority at the hands of Rhino’s, but we did get SCOTUS. The Democrats are going to stick to their gameplan, but it may very well be to their demise as it will more than likely fire up the base and move Independents to the right.

Don Cook

They need to get their acts together. They are supposed to be doing the people’s work not practicing their hate. This will probably not end very pretty. So be it!

Betty Hicks

At one time we had real people in our political offices, not any more we have attack dogs. we need 6 year term limits and only one term so there would be No posturing for another term. We need a Value Added tax instead of an income tax so everyone pays, illegal, drug lords, tourist so everyone pays their fair share with no tax on food. We need a secure border with a fence and only people who comes in at a port of entry with the proper papers gets in. All illegals are kicked across the border with no questions asked & fingerprinted so they can never come in again. No pension & insurance plan for people in office, they are just ordinary citizens even though they think they are super to us ordinary people. They should have to live by the rules they place on us. If Mexico… Read more »

Johnnie McHan

Thank you. This is exactly on track. Their stupidity will be their downfall! Americans will only be forgiving until, well, we are NOT!! I am certain most are already fed up with the liars, traitors and idiots. The very idea of the lowlife, idiotic, lying elected officials coming out to run for President in 2020 is enough to scare even the Devil. I am amazed at how many dumbasses think they are Einsteins or Indians! God Help America and President Trump! We must stay the course and support what is Best for U.S. and all!

John O’Donnell

I am not surprised, the Democrats have acted exactly like I expected. They are mean spirited and spiteful. There is no reason for their actions in the halls of Congress. Stop your infantile behavior before you do further damage to our country. Grow up!

Lola75

Disgraceful, disgusting display of Democratics belief that they are all far superior to mere mortal Republicans !!! The classiest way to deal with such arrogance is to simply dismiss it, the voting public will see it for all it is. Low class, right wing , anti-American values PERIOD .

Arthur Harshbarger, III

I cannot remember the committee name, but the chairwoman gave the oath and when she was finished she left off SO HELP ME GOD! When a congressman from (GOP) from South Carolina asked her to finish the oath because she was out of order; she snapped back that is the way we do it now. You see what steps they are taking to reduce GOD.

Carol

This article says it all! It saddens me to see where our country is heading and there is no accountability for anything they do or say. Oh I just hope the American people wake up and see them for what they are!

Vanessa

I have always been a voter of the man or woman not the party, but no longer. I will never vote Democratic again based exclusively on the points made in this article which had already put a gagging reflex in the back of my throat when they began in the last primary!

Linda

Democrat-Socialists don’t care!

cecil welch

Great article and true! Need to eliminate the Dumb – O – Crats