I don’t mean that in the sense P.J. O’Rourke did (‘Republicans claim government doesn’t work, then get elected and prove it’). While I’ll never agree with most everything the Republican Party currently stands for, they still have an important role to play, that of watchdog. An important function of an opposition party is to keep the governing party honest and corruption-free. Not only is that the right thing to do as citizens, but they surely have a vested interest in doing so, by establishing that Democrats can’t be trusted with the levers of power.
Instead of taking that responsibility seriously however, they have pursued ersatz scandals such as Clinton’s emails and BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI! BENGHAZI! But there were and still are plenty of legitimate targets that could have investigated were they not so invested in placating the batshitloonitarian wing of the Republican Party* (which is now the dominant wing).
Consider the recent story about how the FDA, in 2013, suddenly decided to withdraw its enforcement efforts on opioid abuse (you should really read the article; it should be nominated for a Pulitzer). I think most people would be very upset if they knew that the FDA essentially shut down its efforts to block pill mills. And the scandal has everything including a nebulous tie to Clinton via Jamie Gorelick, who, at the time, was an attorney for one of the drug distribution companies (HITLERY KLINTOOON!!!).
So why didn’t Republicans jump on this? Well (boldface mine):
That summer, lobbying by the pharmaceutical industry intensified on Capitol Hill. Several members of Congress, led by Reps. Tom Marino (R-Pa.) and Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), were proposing a measure that critics said would undercut the DEA’s ability to hold drug distributors accountable.
This is where intelligent leadership (I know, I know…) would have told Marino and Blackburn, “Do what you want, but we’re making this an issue.” Instead, scandals are only useful for gulling the rubes and direct mail fundraising (which are basically the one and the same).
And if you want a Clinton ‘scandal’, here’s a good one (boldface mine):
Thing is, what the US reaped was a fraction of what could have been garnered had the massive tax evasion been fully brought to heel. That failure only increases the debt load every American carries. Why the lack of DOJ prosecutorial enthusiasm against tax cheats and their enabler bankers?
I don’t want to step on too many nuggets, but Secretary of State Clinton stepped in to do the negotiations with UBS. She required UBS to disclose only 4,700 out of 19,000 illegal account holders. Birkenfeld’s curious, as we all might be, as to who made the selection and how, and why the names were never made public. Why was the fine so inadequate compared to long-term profits, and why did DOJ so carelessly offer undeclared account holders anonymity and repeated amnesties?
…In Washington’s small world of startling coincidence, before the negotiated deal UBS only contributed sixty grand to the Clinton Foundation. Afterwards, notes Birkenfeld, it went up by a factor of ten. UBS also partnered with the Foundation providing a low-interest thirty-two million dollar loan for a Foundation program. And President Clinton, the First, earned over a million and a half dollars “for a series of fireside chats with the bank’s Wealth Management Chief Executive, Bob McCann…Bill Clinton’s biggest payday since leaving the office of the Presidency.”
Maybe this too would turn out to be a nothingburger. Instead, between the Republicans’ hatred of taxation, along with their idiotic obsession with all of the wrong things at the IRS, they missed a great opportunity. The tax shelter scandal could have legs, but, again, this requires a commitment to serious governing, not booga booga. Voters would reward GOP and penalize Democrats if real scandals or poor governance were exposed, but bugshit craziness isn’t going to do it outside of the conservative bubble.
Until Republicans take governance seriously, which is to say, not as a way to placate their batshitloonitarians (and hit them up for money), but as an essential role and duty, they will become increasingly irrelevant. After all, it’s clear most Americans aren’t Ayn Rand disciples or supply-siders…
*Of course, a fair number of Republicans come by their batshitloonitarianism honestly.