Obama's Would-Be Watchdog Picks His Battles

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Darrell Issa

After Republicans last took control of the House, in 1994, fireworks ensued: showy investigations into Whitewater, Vince Foster's suicide and, of course, Monica. But this go-for-the-jugular approach often backfired. So with the House GOP eyeing another majority, the man who would bulldog the Obama White House is quick to say he won't be impeaching the President anytime soon. "You're going to be bored to tears," laughs Representative Darrell Issa, a California Republican and would-be chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform.

Issa is only half kidding. Yes, he does plan hearings on postal and federal-pension reform. And yes, he believes Barack Obama was born in America. But he also thinks Obama aides illegally offered jobs to senatorial candidates Andrew Romanoff and Joe Sestak to try to clear the field for White House-preferred candidates. Issa acknowledges the Bush White House did the same — unchecked by a GOP Congress. All the more reason to act, he says. "You don't do selective prosecution ... How do we make a change in the law to prevent this from happening again?"

Issa also plans to look into whether Administration aides are improperly using private Gmail accounts for official purposes, investigate ACORN and probe Countrywide's "VIP" mortgages for (mostly Democratic) members of Congress. He's also confident that more federal spending means more waste, fraud and abuse to spotlight. To those ends, he says, he won't shy away from using his subpoena power. All of which hardly makes for boredom.