Schultz Mocks Issa As Captain of Kangaroo Court

The ever-inept Issa may have inadvertently helped the president through his mishandling of a hearing into the ACA’s technical problems

Over at The New Yorker, John Cassidy sees a glimmer of hope for Pres. Obama in the GOP’s irresistible impulse to overreach and the perpetually inept leadership of House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa of California:

The situation is dire alright—arguably the worst moment of Obama’s five-year tenure. But the Hawaiian Houdini still has one thing going for him, and that’s the uncanny tendency of some of his Republican enemies to turn opportunities into calamities. And none is more adept at this party trick than Darrell Edward Issa, the San Diego loudmouth whose House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform held a public hearing today, which backfired almost immediately.

When your opponent is digging himself into a hole, an elementary rule of politics states, you should stand aside and let him get on with it. But rather than allowing the American public to reach their own conclusions about the troubled rollout of Obamacare, something many of them already appear to be doing, and to the President’s cost, Issa and some of his G.O.P. colleagues seem intent on launching another partisan witch hunt, one that demeans both sides and diverts attention from the real issues.

The hearing began with Issa making the legitimate argument that the Obama Administration, in rolling out a deeply flawed healthcare.gov, made a “monumental mistake to go live and effectively explode on the launch pad.” But rather than pursuing the charge of incompetence, one that even the President’s most dogged defenders might have difficulty knocking down, the Californian congressman quickly moved on to accusing two previously anonymous public servants of withholding information, misleading the public, and carrying water for the President and his lackeys.

The dangers in pursuing this strategy immediately became obvious. Neither of the targets of Issa’s questioning—Todd Park, the head of the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, and Henry Chao, a senior official at the Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (C.M.S.), the agency in charge of healthcare.gov—looked anything like political hacks. Two calm and well-spoken Asian-Americans, they appeared to be what they are: non-partisan technology experts who have been working night and day since October 1st to get the insurance exchange working properly.

And it wasn’t just a matter of appearances. The testimony that Park and Chao presented didn’t do Issa any favors, either. Whereas he and his colleagues have been striving to portray the Web site as an unmitigated disaster, the two witnesses suggested that while it still has some serious problems—they were pretty open about that—it is steadily getting better: the system’s volume capacity has been greatly increased; response times for loading pages are down; and the registration system, which caused a lot of problems at the beginning, has been largely fixed.

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