Why does the public have such a low opinion of Congress?
Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) offers a prime example.
Chaffetz's true nature was on display during his recent flip-flopping fiasco over whether to support the Republican presidential candidate, Donald J. Trump. In the aftermath of the infamous "Access Hollywood" videotape in which Trump is heard making despicable comments about women, Chaffetz publicly dropped his support for Trump.
It sure took Chaffetz an awfully long time to do the right thing. Well before the videotape, Trump's disdain for women was obvious, as were many of Trump's other characteristics of moral turpitude. But it took a videotape for Chaffetz to finally disavow Trump.
Chaffetz was very public with his disavowal and appeared in multiple interviews in the media. He was also very clear. "I'm out," he declared definitively in a CNN interview with Don Lemon. "I can no longer endorse Donald Trump for President," he affirmed. "I just can't do it."
And why did he dump Trump? Chaffetz went to great lengths to emphasize that he was compelled to act out of his strong moral principles. "I'm not going to put my good name and reputation and my family behind Donald Trump," he said. "I think we should all stand up and say we're not going to tolerate this," he continued. "Why can't we stand tall for high moral values?"
He went even further in touting his high moral values. "My wife Julie and I, we got a 15-year-old daughter," he said, and he just could not possibly "look her in the eye and tell her that I endorse Donald Trump."
Wow. Admirable stuff.
Three weeks later, Chaffetz completely reversed himself and publicly announced that, in fact, he would now vote for Trump.
Huh? What happened to all of those cherished principles and high moral values that he proclaimed so righteously?
Out the window.
The truth, of course, is that Chaffetz has no principles at all. It is obvious what happened here. Chaffetz's decisions were based entirely upon political calculations. When the videotape scandal broke, Chaffetz made the political calculation that Trump was doomed. So he sought to exploit this for his own political gain by pretending to act out of high moral principles by disavowing Trump. But when Trump survived the scandal, Chaffetz feared that he had made a political miscalculation. So he then reversed himself and returned to supporting Trump. His reversal very clearly shows that moral principles had absolutely nothing to do with it.
Chaffetz's conduct lays plain that not only does he not possess any moral principles whatsoever, but also, he is shamelessly willing to lie about it by falsely claiming to be guided by moral principles. Lying in itself demonstrates an absence of principles, but lying about possessing the very principles that prevent lying is an even worse lie.
But Chaffetz has no shame.
Chaffetz applies this same shameless deceitfulness in his job as the Chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The role of the Oversight Committee is to serve as a watchdog over the function of government to help ensure that taxpayer money is being spent efficiently and to identify instances of waste, fraud, and abuse. Chaffetz, however, is misusing this Committee for partisan purposes as a weapon for attacking Democrats.
Chaffetz openly declared that if Hillary Clinton were to win the presidential election, his Committee would have a "target-rich environment" for waging his political attacks. "She's not getting a clean slate," he said, and he proclaimed that his Committee already has "two years' worth of material already lined up" for waging investigations and hearings against Clinton.
The Oversight Committee should be a boring committee with little activity because if no wrongdoing is present, then the Committee should have nothing to do. This is similar to being a police officer in a safe community that has no crime. But this is not how Chaffetz envisions his role. The Oversight Committee, he says, is "where the action is," and he views it as "the tip of the spear."
This is an astounding abuse of power. It is like a police officer using the power of his badge not to prevent crime but instead to harass his personal enemies.
Chaffetz has turned the Oversight Committee on its head. Instead of identifying government abuse and misapplications of taxpayer money, his Committee is committing abuse and is wasting taxpayer money. He is engaging in the very acts that he is charged with preventing.
Chaffetz is exactly the type of politician who causes the enormous public frustration with Washington, D.C. People expect politicians to spend their time solving real problems that plague the lives of ordinary citizens. Instead, Chaffetz spends his time, and the public's money, on political shenanigans and trying to destroy Democrats. He is exactly the reason that Washington fails to produce solutions.
People who abuse power should not be entrusted with power.
Chaffetz does not belong in public office.