Welcome Back To The Legislative Badass Of The Year Podium, Elijah Cummings!
The very model of badassery
Guys, we're not sure whether we're even allowed to award the Legislative Badass of the Year prize to anyone ever again, since last year Yr Wonkette said we'd given it to Harry Reid for "2016 And All Time." On the assumption that was hyperbole and not legally binding, we're going to award Legislative Badass 2016 anyway, and while we really considered giving it to Harry Reid once more for his leadership of the Senate minority during a year of unprecedented dumbassery, or to Elizabeth Warren ( again! ) for her ability to get Dems to stand up and cheer, we decided this is a year that calls for someone with the tenacity, gravitas, and pure gentlemanly cussedness of Maryland's Rep. Elijah Cummings, who has used his position as ranking member of the House Oversight Committee (and the House Special Committee on Benghazi) to clear away the unceasing tide of Republican bullshit and stand up for reality.
Let's talk Benghazi, for starters. If we may beg your indulgence to dip a bit farther back than Jan. 1, 2016, let us remind you of that moment in October 2015 when Rep. Cummings took a moment to apologize to Hillary Clinton around Hour Ten of the Inquisition, thanking her for her willingness to suffer Republican fools like committee chair Trey Gowdy, and closing,
So I don’t know what we want from you. Do we want to badger you over and over again until you get tired, until we do get the gotcha moment he’s talking about?
We’re better than that. We are so much better. We are a better country. And we are better than using taxpayer dollars to try to destroy a campaign. That’s not what America is all about.
So you can comment if you like; I just had to get that off my chest.
And verily, there was applause, even in a Republican-run hearing.
By June of this year, Cummings had had it with Gowdy's refusal to even consult with committee Dems on the draft of the final report, so he released the Democrats' own report, shocking America with the news that, just like all the other investigations (and Gowdy's own official report, once he finally released the damn thing) the Benghazi Committee found that not only was Hillary Clinton not a mass murderer, the entire committee had been a $7 million waste of time and effort that discovered nothing the previous eleventy million Benghazi investigations hadn't already found.
And now that America has elected a Cheeto that coughed up a hairball as President, Elijah Cummings is doing what he does best: Oversight. Just since the election, Rep. Cummings has asked the General Services Administration to clarify exactly how the Newborn King's Washington hotel violates federal law, seeing as how the lease is pretty clear no government employee can lease the Old Post Office Building in which the hotel is housed. Now, the GSA can't make Trump sell the Hotel, and neither can Cummings, but the good congressman is taking care to get it on the record that Trump will be violating the law from the moment he takes the oath of office. Might come in useful later.
Along similar lines, when the Trump transition team tried to get names of Department of Energy employees who'd worked on (*gasp!*) climate change, Cummings was taking notes, sending a letter to Mike Pence pointing out that while it's OK for the new administration to appoint its own people to leadership in the department, messing around with career civil servants is not kosher. And to once again put the TrumPeople on notice that Congress takes this oversight business seriously. Especially a very pissed-off Loyal Opposition. And now that we're finding out more and more about Russian hacking of the Democratic Party and the Clinton campaign, who's taking the lead in pushing for investigations? You know it.
In short, Elijah Cummings may be in the minority party, and unable to direct the Oversight Committee. But he damned well isn't going to let that detail get in the way of his keeping a very careful, skeptical eye on the new occupant of the White House. The man's a hero, and we won't be surprised if we're typing his name in this space again next year. If our institutions are going to hold together through the Trump years, we'll need Elijah Cummings using his investigative powers to keep the bastards in check.