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News Eagle - Hawley, PA
  • Philip Maddocks: Lawmakers to investigate how they misled themselves into thinking Cantor would win

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  • House Republicans, still at a loss to explain Rep. Eric Cantor’s defeat in a Virginia primary earlier this month, are now preparing to launch a formal investigation into how they were misled into thinking Cantor would win his race easily.
    “What else about Cantor’s loss are we hiding from ourselves and the American people?” Speaker John A. Boehner asked. “A seven-term congressman gets wiped out nearly two weeks ago by a guy named David Brat, and we are still missing answers, accountability and justice. It’s time for that to change.”
    Demonstrating the urgency felt by party leaders to deal with the matter decisively, Rep. Darryl Issa of California, the chairman of the House Oversight Committee, promptly cut off Boehner’s microphone and delivered his own remarks.
    “We are going to find out what we knew and when we knew it,” Issa said. “There are still a lot of unanswered questions about how the second most powerful representative in the House lost this race to an underfunded, unknown, and inexperienced candidate, and we are determined to get some answers about why we kept ourselves in the dark about this.”
    Cantor — who was at the press conference to discuss his stunning primary defeat, which many are assessing for possible evidence that the Tea Party is regaining steam among Republicans — tried to gloss over the inner torment that may have prevented him and others in his party from acknowledging what they should have known.
    But just as the once-respected congressman started to argue that the Republican Party’s internal struggles “pale in comparison” to its differences with Democrats, he was abruptly cut off by Boehner, who regained the floor and seized the only live microphone to announce that he would call a vote to establish a select committee to examine how members of Congress had so badly misled themselves about Cantor’s re-election prospects.
    “For the sake of the country, for the sake of Citizens United, we need to determine just how it was that, on our watch, we allowed ourselves to be taken by surprise by the victory of an economics professor at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, with little more than $200,000 in campaign funding and no backing from super PACs or Wall Street,” Boehner said. “Someone has to take responsibility for this.”
    Boehner and Issa expressed confidence that through subpoenas, a fact-finding mission to Virginia and multiple investigations in both houses of Congress, they would discover just how it was that they and the rest of Congress seemed to have been so unprepared for Cantor’s election loss.
    Page 2 of 3 - “These actions are not a responsible approach to congressional oversight, but they are a necessary step, I believe, if we are to ever truly understand how things went so badly wrong,” said Rep. Trey Gowdy of South Carolina.
    “We know Eric lost. That’s a known known,” said former Rep. Thomas M. Davis III, a Virginia Republican. “But shouldn’t that have been a known unknown for all of us before election night? I’d like to think that none of us has been deliberately withholding information from ourselves. But I have to say that after Eric’s 11-point loss, it doesn’t look good.”
    Issa said he planned to subpoena conservative talk radio hosts like Laura Ingraham, one of the few high-profile conservatives to put her muscle behind Brat.
    “I want to hear not only what she thinks of Brat but why she thinks we missed this,” Issa said. “Is it something we’re not telling ourselves or is this just part of a wider narrative reflecting this Congress’ effort to use its power to radically transform the country?”
    Boehner conceded the convening of a special committee that is likely to produce a drawn-out and contentious back and forth between factions in the party may lead to a summer and fall of awkward moments for leaders of both parties as the nation prepares to vote in the midterm elections.
    But that didn’t keep the speaker from instructing the House committee to issue a subpoena to Secretary of State John Kerry, taking the rare and humiliating step of demanding that a Democratic cabinet member appear before Congress to testify about Republican shortsightedness.
    “We are going to follow this trail no matter where it takes us,” Boehner promised.
    A spokeswoman for the State Department said that though Kerry would likely be on a previously scheduled trip, he would be eager to testify whenever and wherever Republicans call on him to appear.
    The secretary of state may be a Democrat but he considers himself first and foremost to be a statesman and a scholar of William James,” said the State Department spokesman.
    The spokesman said Kerry would be happy to share his views on the James-Lange theory of emotion and how it may apply to Cantor’s defeat.
    Issa seemed especially thrilled, by the offer.
    “I think there will be a lot of people out there saying this could be the beginning of something really big for the Republican Party,” he said.
    “Then again,” he added. “We might just be kidding ourselves.”
    Page 3 of 3 - ——
    Philip Maddocks writes a weekly satirical column. He can be reached at pmaddocks@wickedlocal.com.
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