Twit­ter worked for Trump on House ethics dis­pute

Albuquerque Journal - - OPINION -

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.

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