LESSONS UNLEARNED. To...

LESSONS UNLEARNED. To slightly dissent from Ezra's take on John Conyers's column on impeachment, I don't really think it's evidence of significant preemptive punch-pulling on oversight by the Democrats. This proposal for a select bipartisan panel is indeed possibly dubious, but I don't read it as being intended as the model for all committee investigations and hearings under a Democratic majority, just for the hot-potato impeachment question. Like Zach Roth, I think it's wise for Conyers and other Democratic leaders (including Nancy Pelosi) to get out in front of the impeachment question and draw a stark distinction between throwing the President out of office (not really part of the plan) and holding bad-ass subpoena-powered oversight hearings and investigations (definitely part of the plan). Judging by what Pelosi has said in recent weeks, it certainly looks like that's her strategy.

Meanwhile, the fact that there's even a serious question among some Democrats about the wisdom or desirability of holding aggressive oversight hearings at all if the party takes over is just depressing. The line offered by one Hill staffer in Roth's Washington Monthly story -- "When you do oversight, ultimately, the press is the judge of your credibility� -- captures perfectly one of the great crippling problems of modern Democratic political strategy. It's become something of a clich�, but it's obviously a lesson that some Democrats (though not many in the top leadership, fortunately) still haven't learned: The press is not your friend.

--Sam Rosenfeld

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