The behavior of Congress on returning from its summer recess illustrates why that legislative body is held in such low regard. Instead of tending to pressing national economic and environmental concerns, the Republican House majority wasted the taxpayers' time by orchestrating anti-Obama Kabuki.
This took the form of a series of hearings primarily using environmental controversies as a backdrop to rehash negative, largely repudiated propaganda. Alleged Obama administration scandals involving unsuccessful green energy loans were revisited in the hope that sensationalist media would revive the discredited charges of White House wrongdoing on the eve of the election.
During these September hearings that "beat political dead horses," pains were also taken to promote the agenda of presidential nominee Mitt Romney and the rest of the GOP ticket.
There was a hearing touting Republicans' pet claim that the private sector was superior to the public sector in overseeing mass transit. It was evident during the session that government-controlled Amtrak's successful New York-Boston route stuck in the craw of a Republican Party eager to tarnish a favorite Obama transportation strategy.
In an effort to denigrate the president's foreign policy, a hearing took place on a bill (with no chance of passing the Democratic-controlled Senate) that would ban the Environmental Protection Agency from making anti-pollution grants to projects overseas. This statutorily authorized grant program has long been an integral part of the policies of previous presidents from both parties.
No matter. The current crop of Republican lawmakers won't acknowledge the global reach of air pollution and the threat it poses from overseas toxic clouds that ride the wind currents to our shores.
Another congressional panel conducted a fishing expedition for scandal by relaunching a petty attack on President Obama's drilling moratorium in the Gulf of Mexico in the aftermath of the BP oil spill. The session's underlying premise was that the moratorium was unduly restrictive. It turned out to be exquisitely poor timing for Republican lawmakers to reopen old wounds. While the congressmen were immersed in demagoguery, Gulf Coast wetlands still recovering from the original spill were suddenly overrun by BP oil residues that recent Hurricane Isaac had dislodged from sea-bottom mud.
There was also a hearing that was little more than a political pep rally for Romney's energy policies and a roasting of Barack Obama's, with Governor Romney's energy advisors testifying before the panel as star witnesses.
Meanwhile, on the floor of the House, Republican legislators sought to resurrect as a cause célèbre the Obama administration's loans to the failing solar company Solyndra. Forget that after months of investigation, no criminal behavior was uncovered in conjunction with the loan. The Obama administration was merely following a procedure authorized under a program in which investments were understood to be inherently risky when used to pick winners among enterprises engaged in emerging technologies.
To do justice to the American people, Republican legislators need to get over their obsessive confrontational knee-jerk attitude towards Obama -- especially if he wins another four years.