For months, Conservatives have been in search of an attack issue to rally around. They've also been desperately searching for someone credible to lead the rally.
Teabaggers were sent to the street hoping to start a no-tax rally. It had the impact of one hand clapping. Conservatives have tried to rally around the idea that Obama is a Socialist intent on destroying capitalism. I think I even remember an attempted attack rally around the idea that Nancy Peolosi was responsible for Gitmo torture. Each one of these efforts had some similar qualities. Leadership was absent, and rank and file ended up looking a tad more goofy with every effort.
A few weeks ago, we saw a new attack rally develop. Obama's Fed Chairman, Ben Bernanke, was accused of forcing a Bank of America CEO named Kenneth Lewis of committing fraud.
Kenneth Lewis is considered one of the most sophisticated CEOs in the world. He was given the award of "Banker of the Year" and "Top CEO in America." Time Magazine named him one of the 100 most influential people in the world. But this new attack issue is built around the idea that Obama's Fed Chairman forced Lewis to buy billions of dollars worth of toxic mortgage trash from Merrill-Lynch and ignore his responsibilities as a CEO. It's important to understand that Bernanke, as Fed Chairman, had zero power to put any real pressure at all on Mr. Lewis and B of A. Nevertheless, Conservatives have asked their new political golden boy, California Congressman, Darrell Issa to launch a bazaar witch hunt blaming Obama and Bernanke for the B of A disaster. Issa wants us to feel sorry for Lewis who was paid 25 million last year to protect B of A shareholders. Republicans these days are reaching for almost anything to discredit Obama and his leadership. But this one is a big reach.
To really appreciate how unhinged this latest attack story is, take a look at Issa, the Congressman who's telling the story. In 1971, a news story reported that GOPer Issa stole a car from an Army post near Pittsburgh. No charges were filed. In 1972, Issa stole a Maserati sports car. He was indicted and charges were dropped. In 1979, Issa was charged with faking the theft of Issa's own Mercedes-Benz in an insurance scam. Charges were dropped.
The GOP hopes to make Issa one of the new faces that represents a new improved GOP. Kenneth Lewis is Issa's path to recognition. But there's just a few problems with this latest GOP campaign. First, we need to ignore the fact that George Bush appointed Bernanke. Secondly, we would need to ignore the fact that the B of A - Merrill deal was closed before Obama took office. We would also have to believe that Lewis is a naïve, sympathetic victim. And finally, we would need to imagine that Congressman Issa is a believable new voice for the GOP and that he deserves our trust after years of being an alleged car thief.
Ankle-biting attacks by opposition parties will always be a reality in politics. However, those attacks should never leave that opposition party looking disorganized, desperate and unbalanced.
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