I was seriously bummed today. I made sure I was in bed early enough to be up by 11:30 PDT , all my chores done, to watch my favorite pincushion, Scott Pruitt, get roasted on a spit over a campfire. Instead, I was treated to two hours of learning intimately that Bill Cosby was heading to the Big House. Personally, I’m glad to hear it, but the warm glow wore off after about 20 minutes, and no, I honestly don’t care what route the newly minted felon took home, shown to me from 200′. So much for the Pruitt hearing.
But I realized something in watching quick clips of his earlier testimony before another hearing earlier this morning. First, the realization shocked me, then it saddened me, and then I just resigned myself to the fact that this is just another aspect of life in Trumpmenistan. And that is that congressional committees holding hearings to provide “oversight” don’t mean a damn anymore.
Not that long ago, regularly scheduled oversight hearings in front of the committees in charge of different government departments and agencies were critically important, for a couple of reasons. First, they were a way of sending a message to the President, and possibly forcing action against a particular appointee. A grilling of an appointee over a stupid mistake or scandal not only chastised the appointee, it was a signal to the President to watch his ass, congress was keeping an eye on his people. The second reason was more direct. Congress, especially the committees, directly controls the purse strings for all of the agencies, through the appropriations process of creating the budget. Piss off the committee, and your funding could get cut, hamstringing your work.
But, after watching multiple oversight committee meetings over the last several weeks, through multiple scandals, I realized that Trump appointees just don’t give a shit. About any of it. And the sad part is that they’re right, in this time, and in this administration, none of that really matters anymore.
I’ve always compared appointees to star athletes, and congressional committees to the head coach. The star is cocky, brash, and there’s no show without him. Also, normally the star has the owner in his corner. But the coach controls something more powerful than all of that. He, and he alone controls the star’s playing time. If the star steps over the line, the coach benches him. The player still gets paid, but he’s not making great catches, or scoring points, or being seen and appreciated, all of which can have a nasty affect on his next contract, along with sour the owner on him. These hearings were the congressional version of threatening stars with benchings.
But the stars just don’t give a shit anymore, the owner has their back no matter what. Look at recent hearings. Jeff Sessions refuses to even admit if he said “Good morning” to Trump. Trump isn’t asserting executive privilege, Sessions simply refuses to answer any questions regarding any conversation with the President. And a GOP led bunch of wusses let him get away with it. Same thing with Scott Pruitt. He blames everybody but himself, makes the most lame ass excuses in the history of politics for his actions, then sits back and smirks while the Democrats call him nasty names. Betsy DeVos can’t answer what her office address is, much less an actual question having to do with education, and nobody blinks an eye.
Why can they get away with this? Because congress’ only two threats have been negated. It no longer matters what the star does anymore, the owner thinks his shenanigans are “cute.” He ain’t changing his mind until fans start boycotting the game. And threatening to cut funding to these agencies through the budget don’t mean a damn either. The whole objective of this exercise is to gut the effectiveness of the federal government. You wanna cut Scott Pruitt’s budget? Go ahead, he’ll fire regulators and investigators, giving polluters carte blanche. You couldn’t threaten Rex Tillerson’s State Department with budget cuts, hell, he refused to even spend all of the money that had been budgeted to him! The Republicans control these committees. And until they start standing up to the owner, making it messy enough that everybody starts blaming the owner for the team’s sub .500 season, nothing is going to change.
So, in addition to having already held a requiem mass for US diplomacy in the Stone Age of Trump, we can now all put black back on and mourn the death of congressional oversight. It’s too bad when you think about it. It used to be fun to watch the bastards sit there and squirm, instead of throwing their elbow over the seat back, laughing, and saying, “You guys done yet?” SAD!