Twitter worked for Trump on House ethics dispute
Some of President-elect Donald Trump’s tweets are like nails raking across a chalkboard — to borrow a metaphorical relic.
Then again, with the stroke of a tweet, it appears he derailed, at least temporarily, House Republicans’ plan to gut the independent ethics panel charged with reviewing allegations of misconduct against members of the House of Representatives and their staffs.
The episode showed not only the strength the soon-to-be president wields over his party, it could be an insight into the willingness of House Republicans to unify behind Trump.
The short-lived, sorry saga started late Monday after House Republicans, who control the chamber, voted secretly to eviscerate the independent Office of Congressional Ethics and place its key functions under their control. But Trump, who has adopted social media as his preferred method of communication with the world as he continues his battles with the so-called mainstream media, posted a comment on Twitter Tuesday morning questioning whether weakening the Office of Congressional Ethics, “as unfair as it may be,” should be a priority for the convening House.
A couple of hours after that callout, House Republicans — who also had plenty of calls and emails from angry constituents — called an emergency meeting and voted unanimously to rescind the ethics panel changes they had adopted the night before. A spokesman for Rep. Steve Pearce, New Mexico’s sole Congressional Republican who voted with the House Republicans to make the ill-advised change, said the issue is dead for now and “it is time to get on to other important items awaiting congressional action.”
That’s an understatement as Congress and the incoming administration prepare to craft the GOP’s promised replacement for Obamacare, add steam to the economic recovery and develop a successful foreign policy that addresses the quagmire in the Middle East while juggling relationships with Russia and China.
Congressional ethics is no small matter. Nor is the importance of keeping the Office of Congressional Ethics truly independent. Hopefully, those issues will be addressed before the next scandal arrives — in the light of day.
And since the short-takes allowed by Twitter seem to remain the president-elect’s favored form of communication, it should be noted that while tweets can be effective on serious, straightforward issues, unbridled use can lead to chaos.