by David Safier
Dear Representative Barber,
I write this as someone who expended a bit of sweat and treasure in your recent campaign and plan to do so again between now and November. I'm a supporter, but a more cautious supporter today than I was a few days ago.
Your two recent votes, one risking the environment to beef up border patrols and the other holding the Attorney General in civil contempt, were terrible votes in my opinion. However, I want to skip over the first and look at the second. I expect you, like Giffords before you, will make votes I dislike, and your border vote falls into that category. I don't know whether you actually believe giving the border patrol a pass on environmental issues is a good idea or you think your vote was the politically expedient thing to do with the November election a few months away, but I can agree to disagree with you on that one. Your vote against Holder, on the other hand, is simply unconscionable.
True, you voted against the worst of the two contempt measures against Holder, the one calling for criminal contempt. But your vote for the civil contempt measure, which allows Darrell Issa's committee to file a lawsuit demanding withheld documents, was a disturbing choice.
Let's look at the pros and cons of the vote for civil contempt.
On the pro side: You can say Obama's use of executive privilege to protect the documents is questionable. You can say, to fully understand what happened in the Fast and Furious operation, it's necessary to see all the relevant documents. You can also say this issue is especially important to you because the incidents occurred in and around your district.
On the con side: Your vote helps give cover to a partisan witch hunt by Darrell Issa and his cronies whose sole intent is to hang a scandal around Obama's neck. The over-hyped Fast and Furious investigation is part of the effort which began the day after Obama's election to dirty him up and damage his reelection chances. The added Republican bonus for going after Holder is that the process may weaken him enough, he'll be less effective in his attempts to root out the voter suppression schemes Republicans are using to try and steal elections.
When you weigh the pros and the cons, there's no contest. You don't help Republicans use a congressional committee to attack Obama hammer and tong simply because Issa has created a weak justification to call for a contempt vote. By way of analogy, you wouldn't help Joe McCarthy with his vile, wide ranging anti-Communist witch hunt because, well, he's kind of right that some of the people he's going after are kind of bad actors.
Your contempt vote was a very bad call. I hope it's a rookie error which occurred because you were thrown into some major votes before you had a chance to get your bearings. If, however, you plan to cast similarly indefensible votes in the future in the interest of your concept of "bipartisanship," you can count me out as a supporter.