Opinion: Best thing about House GOP’s ethics gambit? It’s over

It is hard to overstate how lunk-headed a move it was for House Republicans to decide Monday night behind closed doors to strip the independent Office of Congressional Ethics of much of its independence. In one fell swoop, the GOP caucus gave rise to a number of story lines, none of which is positive:

  1. The House GOP abandons “swamp draining” before it even begins.
  2. Rank-and-file members undercut GOP leaders by ignoring their opposition to the ethics move.
  3. The House GOP gives a cudgel to House Democrats, although the latter had previously attempted to clamp down on the OCE, and even Senate Democrats, although they never even created an independent ethics office.
  4. None other than Jack Abramoff says the House GOP is out of line.
  5. And finally, the House GOP caves after two tweets by President-elect Trump question the timing of the ethics move.

The benefits to House members of this short-lived ethics coup are precisely zero. There was no constituency outside their own ranks clamoring for, or even tolerant of, such a change. It was criticized by outsiders ranging from the liberals at Common Cause to the conservatives at Judicial Watch.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., pushed for the now-scrapped plan to weaken an independent ethics panel. (AP file photo)

House Judiciary Committee Chairman Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., pushed for the now-scrapped plan to weaken an independent ethics panel. (AP file photo)

The only thing they got right was dropping the proposal as quickly as they did, in the same way that holding onto a hot branding iron for one second is better than holding it for two.

There may well be reasons for making changes to the OCE. For example, allowing anonymity for those making allegations can protect them from retaliation, but it also opens the door for potential abuse by those who merely have an ax to grind. But you know what’s the right way to address a problem like that? Out in the open, over time, making a case that it’s a problem and needs to be corrected. Not in secret, as part of a bundle of changes that goes too far.

The question now, of course, is whether this tells us anything about how this bunch will manage its affairs in the future. It’s much harder for consequential pieces of legislation — on taxes, health care, etc. — to be produced in such a quick, quiet way. And the outcry over the proposed ethics changes, reportedly including large volumes of constituent complaints to members’ offices, began long before Trump tweeted his own mild criticism of them — meaning his influence in this case was more a case of jumping in front of the parade after it was already under way. But both perceptions to the contrary will live on until (at least) the next controversial matter on Capitol Hill.

All that said, if your New Year’s resolution was to be more optimistic (instead of, say, more skeptical and less cynical), perhaps this is the silver lining: After this episode, House Republicans will be freshly aware that it’s hard in a continuing, anti-establishment environment to get away with this kind of tin-eared self-dealing.

Reader Comments 0

77 comments
BeOfService
BeOfService

Best thing about it is it is it shows them to be the crooks they are.


lvg
lvg

Party of Clowns starts off with a clown parade!

Ychromosome
Ychromosome

When you stop and think about it, the GOP's audacity is pretty breathtaking. 

Wascatlady
Wascatlady

Is this where we go for cynicism or skepticism?

Ficklefan
Ficklefan

When I first laid eyes upon this collective, suicidal, completely tone deaf idiocy in the AJC this morning, my first thought was that some pol from the Georgia state legislature has been up to Washington spreading the gospel of the joys of doing whatever you want, and not ever being accountable for any of it, to the members of Congress - and just who in the heck could that be? 


Could any group of Republican Congressional members fresh off of the Trump victory and all it stood for be so completely stupid as to make this a real legislative thing, let alone a priority item their first day back in session? Regrettably, I guess so.  And it was definitely   right out of the Georgia legislature's "Jes' Good Ol' Boys Doin' Bidness" play book. 


Yep. That kind of thing still happens and still works here in Georgia, and if you don't realize it, then you are probably from out of state. Georgians have the state legislature they deserve, and there is no doubt about that. But after the last election, it was hard to see that kind of government catching on any where else. Talk about spitting into a hurricane. Good for Trump taking quick action. 


Makes one wonder if more facts will come out similar to the kinds of things we read about down here. Someone slipped up. Got caught. And was looking for friends and allies in the assemblies to help  "make a few little changes" to get him out of it. Time will tell if whoever was behind this had any reason to bring down the Ethics committee. We'll see. 

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Megan Kelly is leaving FOX!!??!!

I could not be happier!

She's about to find out she's not all that she imagines herself to be.

Shades-O-Katie!

Buh bye, MK! 

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

Still hating on strong, successful, independent women, eh, felicia? Or just jealous of her $15+ million salary?

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

17 more days and a wake up. And then....by by Barack and Michelle. Fumigate the White House and lets move on from 8 years of misery.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@SGTGrit I heard they plan on having a crib nearby from whence barack can whine and moan, almost like he never left. 


I think he wants to kill that political party completely.

MarkVV
MarkVV

@SGTGrit You just can't swallow the fact that a great majority of the people in the US have such a favorable opinion of President Obama,can you? Be careful that you do not choke on that.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

I'm beginning to think that the Trump, twitter messages may become an effective lame street media bypass throughout his presidency. Maybe a stroke of genius that confounds his adversaries.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

What's going on with Kyle's videos? They run contiguous, crossing the topic border. 

I'm now watching videos about couples who had holiday weddings.

Who cares? 

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

The rank and file left have been stirred up by their masters. Sheeple that they are. Pathetic.

WWYT?
WWYT?

Unfortunately, this is what we' can expect from them for at least two more years. They are so giddy with the power they have, they don't know how to use it to help the country, let alone their constituents. Maybe the man who says he alone can fix all things can keep this bunch in line. Humph.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Optimistic indeed. But is it too cynical to say that future attempts to curtail oversight will succeed. What about the ones we do not know about.


The Age of Trump indeed.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

@McGarnagle DC went 96.7% clinton, believe me, if one of the Republicans leaves the toilet seat up, you'll know about it.



SGTGrit
SGTGrit

Sounds like Kye, is in lock step with the very liberal AJC and their blog mack daddy who hosts the neighboring blog. Jim Wooten, please come out o retirement.

TheRealJDW
TheRealJDW

 My guess is the "lunk-headed" moves have just begun to show up.  It sure didn't take long.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

It pains me to say this but Rand Paul makes a good point -


Removing the mandate to buy insurance while leaving in place the dictate that people can wait to buy insurance until after they are ill will only accentuate the bankrupting of the insurance industry.


And, of course, offers no solutions -


Partial repeal of Obamacare will likely win the day, but when the insurance companies come to Washington crying for a bailout don’t say that no one warned of this preventable disaster.


Gee, thanks.


We need to get on top of this, it's job #1, and all the House GOP wants to do is pull each others hair?


Are we going to have to Twitter y'all again?


http://rare.us/story/rand-paul-repeal-all-of-obamacare-and-replace-immediately/

stogiefogey
stogiefogey

Any members of the Georgia Congressional delegation vote for this abomination? Their constituents would probably be interested to know.

JeffreyEav
JeffreyEav

It was lunk headed. And then this afternoon at the swearing in? They should've been sworn at.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

@Eye wonder

My comment re Trump addressed what DID happen.

Your response centered upon what you THINK may have happened.

Read this next line very carefully...

I don't care what you think. I quit you a long time ago and there's no getting me back (as if you could). Playin' the dozens ain'tcher game.

schnirt

For no other reason than my personal enjoyment, I might tag you every now and then but not here at Kyle's.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@FIGMO2 @Eye wonder

That's not quite correct, felicia. My comment posited possible reasons for the 'why.' Granted, that takes some extra cognitive function, so I can see why you may have responded as you did. 

And as for you 'quitting' me, I'll believe it when I see it. So far you've made nothing but empty promises.

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@Kyle_Wingfield 

Trump is a master manipulator of the media.  Anything and everything he does should be viewed in that light.

If I had said to you, 18 months ago, that a POS and con man extraordinaire like Donald Trump will be America's next President, you would also have called me "crazy / ier."  And you would have ended up with egg on your face.

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Another article in the same vein as Kyle's previous article.

Beyond Fake News: 2016's Most Disruptive Media Moments

http://www.npr.org/2016/12/28/507111963/beyond-fake-news-2016s-most-disruptive-media-moments

Issue #2 hits the mark.

What has hurt mainstream media particularly is a mistrust that it can provide honest brokers — people who, even if they are political pundits expressing opinions, can be fair to all sides of an argument. In an environment where so much trust is already gone, moves by mainstream outlets that chip away at their status as honest brokers seem unwise.

But because interest in the election has also fueled a rise in news consumption — cable news channels in particular saw huge double-digit ratings increases from last year — news outlets haven't yet paid a significant price economically for any missteps.

Gone are the days of a truly objective media.  

Classof98
Classof98

@FIGMO2  If you believe the media has ever been "truly objective", I've got a sweet bridge in Brooklyn to sell you.


And BTW, I take any "news" from NPR with a  huge grain of salt.  I listen to NPR on my commute, for about two hours a day.  Their non-stop leftist propaganda is enough to make Pravda blush.

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

@FIGMO2 And people recognizing the truth instead of what they feel is the truth!

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

Kyle,


When you are going to rename your blog, "The Kyle Wingfield and Andyman blog"?   I swear that he has a higher word count on your posts than you do.

kitty72
kitty72

@JFMcNamara Not much good to say about the GOP these days. Not if you believe in courtesy, common sense, knowledge and decency. I feel for Kyle...kinda. :) The GOP may have won, but it looks like the American people lost.

Kyle_Wingfield
Kyle_Wingfield moderator

@JFMcNamara Various commenters on here from time to time have become extremely ... enthusiastic. He's not the first. 

Classof98
Classof98

@kitty72 @JFMcNamara  "Not much good to say about the GOP these days".  Other than winning all the elections, of course!

FIGMO2
FIGMO2

Eye wonder if there's a blogger who can't even quit me over here at Kyle's?

Maybe he could find a distraction other than MOI? 

Eye wonder
Eye wonder

@FIGMO2

If you don't like to engage in polite conversation on public message boards, perhaps you oughtn't come here?

You said X. I said maybe Y or Z. If you still believe X, make an argument. Or concede that maybe Y or Z. 

Have a nice day.