On Thursday, John Bresnahan and Jake Sherman reported that Republican leaders in the House were mounting a campaign to get House Oversight Committee chairman and catch-all "-ghazi" inquisitor Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) to maybe take a deep breath, already. "GOP leaders," the Politico duo reported, were fretting that "the sometimes unpredictable chairman could jeopardize the biggest gift handed to them in months -- public outrage over the IRS scandal, combined with questions over Benghazi," and that Issa should maybe consider not "personalizing the scandals by insulting Obama and his aides and focus on the facts."
And so it came to pass that Issa's colleague, Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-S.C.), made an appearance on C-SPAN's "Washington Journal," where he suggested that deep down, Issa was probably really sorry about having called White House press secretary Jay Carney a "paid liar." That remark, offered up by Issa in a Sunday morning appearance on CNN's "State of the Union," was the incident that seems to have catalyzed the whole "Whoa, Darrell Issa, You Must Chill!" movement.
"I think if Chairman Issa had to have it back, he would say that Jay Carney has reiterated things that are demonstrably false, that he has taken liberties with the truth, but I think he would phrase it differently," Gowdy said. "To his credit, I think he would tell you that."
Maybe so! Though it's worth noting that Bresnahan and Sherman described Issa as "unbowed" after he "again accused the White House of being less than truthful on key subjects -- while avoiding the word 'liar' -- and refused to apologize for his Carney broadside."
Still, what a difference a day makes! Yesterday, National Journal reported that House GOP leaders were sending some mixed messages: While they "privately" regretted the "paid liar" remark, they were solidly behind Issa throwing rhetorical elbows hither and yon, and cheered him:
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor singled out Issa for praise at a closed-door GOP conference meeting on Tuesday. Hours later, Cantor gave him plaudits on national television, saying on CNN that Issa and other GOP chairmen investigating the IRS were doing "a fantastic job."
Indeed, top House Republicans are lining up behind the Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman, even as it becomes clear that Issa is stretching the evidence to support his claim that the IRS's targeting of tea-party groups was directed from Washington.
For the GOP, the focus on Obama administration scandals is a welcome reprieve as they work to unite a fractious conference ahead of what's expected to be a summer of divisive debates, including raising the debt limit and taking up a comprehensive immigration overhaul.
"Chairman Issa is providing tough, effective, and appropriate oversight in the face of White House obstruction," said Michael Steel, a spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner.
I guess someone didn't quite win the news cycle.
READ THE WHOLE THING:
Gowdy believes Issa would take back 'paid liar' remark [The Hill]
GOP to Darrell Issa: Cool it [Politico]
Top Republicans Let Darrell Issa Off the Leash [National Journal]