Opinion
U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to reporters about new sanctions imposed on Russia as he departs the White House in Washington on July 29, 2014.      REUTERS/Joshua Roberts    U.S. President Barack Obama speaks to reporters about new sanctions imposed on Russia as he departs the White House in Washington on July 29, 2014. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts   

The Phony Scandal Presidency

Photo of Rep. Darrell Issa
Rep. Darrell Issa
Chairman, House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
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      Rep. Darrell Issa

      Congressman Darrell Issa represents the people of California’s 49th Congressional District in the United States House of Representatives, a seat he has held since 2001. The 49th District includes Camp Pendleton, the largest Marine Corps training facility in the United States, and the northern portions of San Diego County and southwest Riverside County. Congressman Issa and his wife Kathy live in Vista, CA. They have one son, William, and celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary in 2010.

      As a senior in high school, Issa enlisted in the United States Army. Through his Army service, he received an ROTC scholarship and graduated with a degree in business from Sienna Heights University in Adrian, Michigan. Upon graduation, Issa was commissioned as an Army officer, and ultimately obtained the rank of captain. He completed his active-duty military service in 1980 and turned his interests to the private sector.

      At the height of his career in business, Issa served as CEO of California-based Directed Electronics, a company that Issa founded and built in the mid-1990s to become the nation’s largest manufacturer of vehicle anti-theft devices, including the highly-successful Viper system. In 1994, Issa was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Inc. Magazine, Ernst & Young and The San Diego Union Tribune. During his leadership of Directed Electronics, Issa served as chairman of the Consumer Electronics Association, an organization of 2000 companies within the consumer technology industry that hosts the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. When he stepped down as CEO to serve as a Member of the U.S. House of Representatives, Directed Electronics employed nearly 200 people.

      As a Congressman and leader in California grassroots politics, Issa has championed the cause of smart, efficient government, and has pushed legislation to balance the federal budget and promote transparency across the federal bureaucracy. In 2003, Issa was the architect behind the successful popular uprising to recall former Democratic California Governor Gray Davis.

      Issa currently is a member of the House Judiciary Committee and the Oversight and Government Reform Committee, where he serves as the Ranking Republican Member. Previously, Issa served on the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, the Foreign Affairs Committee, the Energy & Commerce Committee, and the Small Business Committee. As the holder of 37 patents himself, Issa has been vigilant about protecting the intellectual property rights of artists and other entrepreneurs to help protect America’s position at the forefront of innovation and creativity in the entertainment and technology industries. His successful efforts to fight human trafficking along the United States border has resulted in tougher laws, stiffer penalties, and more consistent enforcement. His watchful concern to guarantee that U.S. taxpayers receive the royalties they are owed from mineral interests on federal lands exposed fraud and mismanagement at the Mineral Management Service (MMS) in 2006.

      In 2008, when Congress was asked to pass the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) in the wake of an historic financial crisis, Issa stood by his instincts as a businessman and opposed giving a blank-check bailout to Wall Street – he voted against all bailouts during the financial crisis. Refusing to give up and concede to those who favored a bailout-centered response to this and future financial failures, Issa put forward a proposal to create a bipartisan commission to uncover the root causes of the financial crisis. This idea was passed into law in early 2009 and the investigation commenced in January 2010. Issa expects the results will reveal government mistakes and protect U.S. taxpayers from future runaway government intervention in the financial and housing markets.

      Recognizing his success as a Congressional watchdog of taxpayer dollars, at the beginning of the 111th Congress House Republicans tapped Issa to serve as the top Republican on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, which is the main investigative committee of the United States House of Representatives charged with the protecting the interests of U.S. taxpayers and eliminating waste, fraud and abuse in the federal bureaucracy. In the first year of his leadership, the committee has undertaken numerous detailed investigations of the Countrywide Financial VIP Program that benefitted government officials with special reduced-rate mortgage loans, the illegal use of taxpayer dollars by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), the decades-old misplaced government agenda to manipulate the U.S. housing market through Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac that created the housing crisis, the politicization of science at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and a broad investigation into the financial crisis of 2008-2009.

      As a fiscal conservative committed firmly to low taxes and free markets, Issa has opposed the rise of out-of-control government spending and fought tirelessly for the responsible, transparent use of taxpayer dollars. He’s pushed to achieve more whistleblower protections for those who report waste, fraud and abuse in the federal bureaucracy. And he’s offered substantive reform initiatives to open up government so that Americans know what’s happening in Washington and can become more democratically engaged in the day-to-day oversight of their government.

Military leaders are taught to take ownership of a situation and that they are accountable for their decisions as well as the actions of those under their command — no matter the burden or mission. President Harry Truman famously summed up this fundamental tenet of leadership: “The buck stops here.”

President Obama has taken a different approach when things go wrong, consistently avoiding responsibility, blaming a predecessor, or claiming critics are manufacturing “phony scandals.”

From Operation Fast and Furious gunrunning into Mexico, NSA snooping on law abiding Americans, the botched rollout of Healthcare.gov, his administration’s false narratives on Benghazi, and the IRS targeting of Americans for their political beliefs, if it wasn’t his predecessor President Bush’s fault, it must be an isolated government bureaucrat gone rogue or a partisan attack from Republicans. But whatever it is, neither he nor anyone in his administration knew about it or were involved in it, and they certainly aren’t responsible for it.

The American people are weary of the president’s prevaricating, and the downward spiral of world events is exposing the flaws of a lazy and disengaged foreign policy that sees the U.S. pulling back from its guiding role in world affairs.

Is it a phony scandal that Obama’s weak posture and reassuring platitudes emboldened Russia’s strongman Vladimir Putin to foment unrest, annex Crimea and reignite the Cold War? The recent murder of the 298 passengers and crew of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 amidst a Russian backed insurgency has brought the crisis in Ukraine back into focus.

Obama mocked Governor Romney for warning of the looming geopolitical threat posed by Russia during a debate in 2012, quipping “the 1980s are now calling to ask for their foreign policy back.” If only we were so lucky. His “reset” policy has led to the rekindling of tensions and the reemergence of the Russian bear and placed post-Cold War democracies in peril.

Is it a phony scandal that as Hamas rockets rein down on the people of Israel, they have reason to question whether America’s leader has their back? Middle East stability is in question, from the “red line” use of chemical weapons in Syria, to the killing of an Ambassador in Libya, to ISIS invading Iraq, to Iran’s quest for a nuclear bomb, and now conflict in Gaza. The president has overseen the worst Middle East policy in recent memory.

These significant world events call for strong and steady leadership. Obama has been noticeably absent as his “lead from behind” mentality puts more faith in the collective decision making power of countries like France and Pakistan than in the United States.

This is the picture of the world stage where America has abdicated the leading role. We are facing the consequences of President Obama’s vision of diminished U.S. influence abroad.