The months of hearings that culminated in last week’s contempt vote against Eric Holder have made the attorney general a villain in some eyes and a hero in others.
But the highly publicized oversight of the nation’s top cop in the wake of Fast and Furious, voter ID, SB 1070 and other issues has also cast Holder in an unlikely role: kingmaker.
This isn’t to say in any shape or form that the proceedings against Holder are rooted in simply generating publicity for lawmakers. It’s just a natural effect that the bigger the case, the bigger the names, the greater the allegations, the more spotlight that’s cast on the players involved.
Some members of Congress were simply destined to become bigger household names with the progression of Holder-related scandals, or even without the attorney general. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) was raring to go after waste and abuse from the minute he knew he would take the gavel after the Republicans’ 2010 midterm rout. A stick figure cop in front of the Capitol dome became his Twitter avatar, and the first hearing his committee held in January 2011 was on the TARP bailouts. Before Fast and Furious was on the radar, Issa was going after federal spending binges, regulatory impediments to job creation, and the failing U.S. Postal Service.
Issa, who did a triple-play on the Sunday shows this weekend, is no-holds-barred and you know that when he sets his mind to push forward with something no amount of arm-twisting will deter him. The Democrats brand him as a combative witch-hunter, which alone elevates him to most-favored-lawmaker status among many on the right, particularly in the grass-roots. His star won’t necessarily be at the same height with Republican House leadership as it is with the conservative base, so it will be especially fascinating to see what lies in Issa’s future, particularly as the end of the 112th Congress plays out.
Quotable: “No, Mr. Attorney General, you’re not a good witness. A good witness answers the question asked. So let’s go back again. Have you and your attorneys produced internally the materials responsive? In other words, have you taken the time to look up our subpoena and find out what material you have responsive to it, or have you simply invented a privilege that doesn’t exist?” — House Judiciary Committee oversight hearing with Holder testifying, June 7, 2012
Here are some others who have stood out as up-and-comers in the Holder proceedings.