As the new chairman of the House Government Reform Committee, Waxman will have free rein to investigate, as he puts it, “everything that the government is involved with.” And the funny thing is, Waxman can thank the Republicans for the unique set of levers he will hold. Under a rules change they put through in the days when they used the panel to make Bill Clinton’s life miserable, the leader of Government Reform is the only chairman who can issue subpoenas without a committee vote. […]
Waxman likes to point out that the House took 140 hours of sworn testimony to get to the bottom of whether Clinton had misused the White House Christmas-card list for political purposes, but only 12 hours on prisoner abuse at Abu Ghraib.
Revenge against the Republicans would not be useful — it’d be sinking to, well, I won’t say “their level” as if viciousness were an inherent Republican trait; let’s just say the level they’ve preferred to play at for the last decade or two. But besides revenge there is reform. Investigation can punish, but it can also bring truth and clarity, and raise standards and level playing fields. There can be Nuremburg Trials, and Truth and Reconciliation Commissions. Let’s hope for the latter.