Going back to the well

GOING BACK TO THE WELL…. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s detractors got quite a bit of mileage out of the recent manufactured controversy surrounding her criticism of Bush-era CIA briefings. GOP lawmakers eventually ran out of arguments, the Democratic caucus rallied to defend Pelosi, and the whole thing ended up looking a little silly when we learned plenty of Republican leaders had made even worse comments about intelligence agencies.

So, conservatives are prepared to move on? Not quite yet.

House Republicans, hoping to put Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) back on defense, are weighing whether to take another run at a resolution calling for an investigation into her allegations that the CIA lied to Congress about its use of enhanced interrogation techniques.

Several GOP sources say minority lawmakers are looking at how to best keep Pelosi in the hot seat, just as she was when Congress left town for its weeklong recess on May 21. Atop the list of options is to introduce another privileged resolution similar to the one Republicans offered prior to the Memorial Day recess. That resolution could come this week.

Now, the resolution failed badly on May 21, with a 252-172 vote. Nothing has changed, and the vote tally won’t improve for the GOP, but they’re hoping a) yet another vote would renew interest in the “story”; and b) to accuse Dems who vote against the resolution of opposing accountability. (That Pelosi and many House Democrats support a truth commission and accountability for Bush administration officials who may have violated the law is a pesky detail Republicans prefer to ignore.)

But all of this nevertheless strikes me as a foolish strategy. Indeed, the whole pitch is ridiculous. Let’s see, Bush/Cheney tortured; Pelosi may have been briefed on the torture; she claims she was misled during the briefings; so what we really need is to investigate whether Pelosi really was briefed on torture — without investigating the torture.

GOP leaders encouraged Members to talk about the issue in the talking points section of their Memorial Day district recess packet. And the National Republican Congressional Committee announced last Thursday it would begin a multimedia assault on several vulnerable Democrats who voted to table the Republican resolution forcing an inquiry into her claim that the CIA lied to Congress.

Seriously? This is what the party is excited about?

The substance of the charge is weak, and the political upside is non-existent. The dishonest Gitmo attacks I can at least understand (“Eek! Dems want terrorists in our neighborhoods!”). But a series of failed resolutions, against a Speaker who actually wants a comprehensive investigation, seems pointless.