Editorials

The congressman who just redefined chutzpah

A campaign mailer sent out Rep. Darrell Issa praises President Obama for signing a bill, though Issa spent years attacking him.
A campaign mailer sent out Rep. Darrell Issa praises President Obama for signing a bill, though Issa spent years attacking him. Issa for Congress via Huffington Post

Even in today’s tawdry politics, Congressman Darrell Issa is taking chutzpah to a whole new level.

The Vista Republican made his name by leading investigations into President Barack Obama and his administration. Issa even called Obama “one of the most corrupt presidents in modern times” and suggested he could face impeachment.

But now Issa is locked in his toughest re-election race yet, and Obama’s approval ratings are up.

So what does Issa do?

He sends out a mailer with a photo of Obama at his Oval Office desk and a blurb from Issa saying that he is pleased that the president this month signed a bipartisan bill – Issa was one of 40 co-sponsors in the House – to protect the rights of sexual assault victims in the federal justice system.

“Shameless,” Obama correctly called it during a fundraiser Sunday in La Jolla.

The president also said Issa’s main contribution in Congress has been “to obstruct and waste taxpayer dollars on trumped-up investigations that have led nowhere.”

Issa responded to Obama’s criticism by saying the president “continues to deny accountability for the serious scandals that happened under his watch where Americans died overseas and veterans have died here at home.”

As chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee from 2011 to 2015, Issa bombastically pursued probes into the terrorist attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, the Internal Revenue Service targeting conservative groups, the botched “Fast and Furious” gun sting operation and other actions by the Obama administration.

Now he’s trying to have it both ways by playing up his cooperation with Obama and other Democrats he has vilified.

Issa is resorting to such desperate measures because his bid to win a 10th term is a toss-up in the 49th District, which includes southern Orange County and northern San Diego County.

He put himself in this pickle by endorsing Donald Trump before California’s presidential primary in June, and, like other Republicans, standing by him despite the “Access Hollywood” tape scandal. Retired Marine Col. Doug Applegate, like other Democrats, is doing his darndest to tie Issa to Trump, who is toxic for many voters, including educated Republicans in Issa’s well-to-do suburban district.

Issa can try to run away from his history of attacking Obama and supporting Trump as much as he wants. We trust voters in Issa’s district won’t be fooled.

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