The House vote to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt for his withholding of documents related to Operation “Fast and Furious” brought brisk — and heated — rhetoric from the two parties.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) called the vote an “abuse of power”. House Speaker John Boehner (Ohio) said that “no Justice Department is above the law and no Justice Department is above the Constitution, which each of us has sworn an oath to uphold.”
And yet, for all of that amped-up oratory from top leaders in their respective parties, the likely effect of today’s vote — to the extent there is one — is to convince people that all the bad things they think about Congress are, well, true.
Remember the political backdrop for this vote. Congress is on a long losing streak when it comes to the American public; in Gallup polling, Congressional approval hasn’t been higher than 24 percent since last summer and currently stands at 17 percent.
What those numbers mean is that people are ready and willing to believe the worst about Congress and its motives.
Yes, partisan Democrats will cast today’s vote as yet another example of House Republicans trying to score political points by embarassing the Administration rather than focusing on what’s good for the American people.
And, yes, partisan Republicans will see today’s vote as the only choice House leaders had given the Administration’s decision to invoke executive privilege on the documents requested by the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.
But, even before this vote partisan Democrats weren’t voting for a Republican and partisan Republicans weren’t voting for a Democrat. They are just not in play from a political perspective.
For the small sliver of people who remain undecided, the vote “Fast and Furious” — which they almost certainly hadn’t heard about before today — simply reaffirms their belief that Washington is broken and neither party has any real solutions to fix it.
What’s remarkable is that less than a year removed from such a politically scarring experience that both parties would be willing to engage in similar behavior again. And you wonder why the fastest growing political “party” in the country is independents.