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Darrell Issa: A Study in Congressional Character

Updated on August 11, 2013
Smoke surrounds the mysterious, shrouded figure of Darrell Issa, but so far he has successfully managed to cover up the flames.
Smoke surrounds the mysterious, shrouded figure of Darrell Issa, but so far he has successfully managed to cover up the flames. | Source

Anytime that a politician on our own side of the political fence gets caught with his hands in the cookie jar we cry out that character does not matter. For example, when Bill Clinton was caught in the Monica Lewinsky scandal he had a whole host of fans insisting that his personal life was of no relevance as long as he was doing his job as President. Rudy Giuliani was also accused of marital infidelity during his Presidential campaign, and his supporters protested that this was none of the voter’s business. Water under the bridge. Similar allegations have been thrown at Newt Gingrich, John McCain; the list goes on. During Bob Filner’s mayoral campaign down here in sunny San Diego his more devout supporters insisted it did not matter that he bullied baggage handlers at the airport to get head of the line privileges when he was a Congressman. Now that he is Mayor of San Diego Filner is under even more serious scrutiny for multiple sexual harassment allegations, but even now his hard core base insists that he remain as mayor. The moral I am trying to point out with these various examples is that when your guy does wrong everything is tolerable, but when the other side's candidate does the same thing we are right there with the mud bucket, ready to do some slinging.

Ready with the mud bucket?  Pick a target and start slingin'!
Ready with the mud bucket? Pick a target and start slingin'! | Source

Does Character Matter?

Another San Diego based politician, Congressman Darrell Issa of the 49th district, has a long laundry list of black marks against his character that have trailed him like an extra shadow ever since he threw his hat into the political arena. Apparently the majority of his constituency believe that these alleged blights on his character do not matter, because he ran a successful campaign to win the office he has served in since 2001, and has managed to hold on to it up until the present. Issa has ejxplained away his past sins to the satisfaction of the voters, who apparently do not hold him to high standards of conduct because they continue to reelect him.

To be fair to the people of the 49th, this writer believes that we all make mistakes and sometimes become wrongly associated with acts of malfeasance. Some of us are unfairly accused of a single act of wrongdoing that still clings to us even when we are cleared of it. Still others among us commit a brief burst of serious sins within a single time window of our wayward youth; but we quickly repent of it and change our ways. But when a person’s character is splattered with repeated crimes scattered over many years it seems to me that this isn’t mere immaturity, but is a sign of a grave character flaw. Where there is smoke, there is fire, as the saying goes.

But I, for one, believe that character does matter. Returning to the cases of Clinton, Gingrich, Giuliani etc., as a voter I am not convinced that their marital infidelity is none of my business. If a politician cheats on his wife, the woman he has taken a sacred vow of fidelity to, the woman he sleeps next to every night, am I really to believe that this politician will not also cheat on the anonymous electorate that is really just a series of poll numbers on a piece of paper? No, I believe that the infidelity carries over to the arena of official misconduct. Niccolo Machiavelli was a sixteenth philosopher who described a political being that was purposely unfaithful to those being governed; someone who was duplicitous in nature and approached politics cynically and pragmatically, rather than from a standpoint of trying to advance ethical or moral positions that would benefit the public. Many of today’s politicians are positively Machiavellian in their approach to politics, and the electorate that they swear fidelity to is only a faceless mass to be manipulated as needed. I think that this is especially true in the case of Darrell Issa, whose political character I intend to summarize here, in order to make a point about what an essential quality good character should be in our leaders.

Politicians like Darrell Issa appear to ply their political trade from an insidiously Machiavellian approach.
Politicians like Darrell Issa appear to ply their political trade from an insidiously Machiavellian approach. | Source

Issa's Past History - A Synopsis

IIf you do a Google search of the item "Darrell Issa corruption" it returns very peculiar results that I think speak volumes about Issa's duplicitous character. Approximately half of the search items involve him fighting corruption in the IRS, the Benghazi incident, etc., while the other half are about him being involved in some sort of corrupt dealings. The truth is, practically from the time he reached adulthood Issa's past has been shadowed with corruption; being cluttered with disturbing incidents that, taken as a whole, seem to reveal an extremely dysfunctional personality.

In 1971, when Issa was 18 years old, he allegedly stole a Dodge Charger belonging to a man in his army unit. The car miraculously reappeared later when its owner threatened to inflict bodily harm upon its alleged thief. I have never stolen a car or even thought about it, but if Issa did commit this act I am willing to give him a pass, since he was only 18 years old at the time. The problem is that the dark deeds tagging along beside him don’t stop there.

In 1972 Issa was arrested with his older brother in Ohio and again accused of stealing a car, this time a Maserati. The case was eventually dismissed. It seems there were a lot of dismissed cases with Issa, which makes one wonder if even then he had political connections and personal protectors on high. It seems that when you have friends in high places you can get away with a lot. The rest of us are basically screwed.

Issa’s mysterious shadow of criminal behavior also popped up in the Golden State, again in conjunction with his brother. In San Jose the Issa brothers were accused by insurance investigators of selling Darrell's Mercedes sedan and then reporting it stolen. Then in 1981 Darrell was involved in a hit and run. Shortly after this he lent the proprietor of a company called Steal Stopper sixty thousand dollars, foreclosed on the loan after a late payment, and took over the company. What you call unethical behavior is what Issa calls entrepreneurial ability. To add to the diversity of his alleged sinister deeds, after taking control of the company Issa allegedly fired an employee by threatening him with a gun. I have to be careful to apply the word allegedly to these incidents because when you are a man in Issa's position you manage to get all of these accusations expunged from your record. I can't even get a traffic ticket expunged. I got a nasty letter from my homeowner's association for having my Christmas lights up until January 6th. You think I could get away with car theft or insurance fraud?

Tired of all this yet? Sorry, there's more. Keep in mind that Issa is growing longer in the tooth here, but “bad luck” in the form of these “false” allegations keeps following him around even though he is supposed to be getting older and wiser. Another case in point is when that same factory Issa acquired through his entrepreneurial genius mysteriously burned down in 1982. Issa claimed faulty electrical work, but an insurance company investigation found evidence of arson. It was discovered that Issa had increased his insurance policy on the factory more than fourfold before the blaze, and had also removed valuable items from the building beforehand.

Should I go continue with the story of how Issa allegedly concocted a story about how he was a part of Nixon’s crack security detail at the 1971 World Series, a World Series that Nixon never attended? Or how his campaign resume is filled with glowing reports about always receiving the highest possible conduct ratings in the Army, when in fact at one point he was pegged for unsatisfactory conduct and efficiency? Nah, I think you get the point by now.

Issa's response to these allegations is typical of those whose character is of a duplicitous nature. He blames shoddy, sloppy reporting by reporters who misinterpret his personal anecdotes as hard facts. He claims mistaken identity in the auto theft accusations, or the shady character of his “accusers,” who are mostly drunks of questionable character. He blames the fire department for the fire at his Steal Stopper factory. For just about everything else, he blames his brother. You won't find as much finger pointing in a room full of 5 years olds standing around a broken vase.

Soon to be Issued - Darrell Issa Stamp!

If Postal Employees were in charge of stamp selection, you couldn't expect to see the Darrell Issa stamp being issued anytime soon.
If Postal Employees were in charge of stamp selection, you couldn't expect to see the Darrell Issa stamp being issued anytime soon. | Source

What does Issa's character have to do with the Postal Service?

Postal Employees have also been victimized by Issa’s Machiavellian deception tactics, to the tune of 41,000 dollars. 41,000 dollars was the amount that postal unions contributed to Darrell Issa’s congressional campaign during the 2010 election cycle after he assured them that he would work on their behalf. Out of gratitude for the donation, since then Issa has attempted to thwart the Postal Service and its employees at every turn. He has been the head cheerleader in Congress for every measure designed to eliminate postal jobs, such as ending Saturday delivery and the current proposal for centralizing delivery points. These propositions are both fair game for open, legitimate debate, but why did Issa so shamelessly take money from the Postal Unions with one hand while seeking to deliver a killing blow to them with the other? All Americans, Congressmen included, have a right to their political opinions, but can a man be trusted by anyone when he so callously betrays people that have put their trust in him?

Now that the chickens are starting to feel comfortable around the fox, how long before he turns against them?
Now that the chickens are starting to feel comfortable around the fox, how long before he turns against them? | Source

Conclusion - The Fox guarding the Hen House?

Darrell Issa has been a highly prominent agitator and front runner against corruption and malfeasance in government. He has sought to expose wrongdoing in many incidents that needed to be investigated, such as Benghazi, the IRS audits against Obama’s political opponents, and the Fast and Furious episode in which government agents sold guns to Mexican drug dealers. But while launching himself ferociously against wrongdoing in government, does Issa really have an interest in protecting the well being of the citizens he has taken an oath to serve, or are his crusades simply a springboard to further his personal political power? In more ominous, sinister terms, once that the fox has become a fixture inside the hen house, will he turn against the helpless chickens that have started to trust him? This is basically what he has done to Postal employees. Who will he deceive next?

Is a politician's personal character important to the voters?

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    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 13 months ago from San Diego California

      Thank you Alison.

    • alison monroe profile image

      Alison Monroe 13 months ago


    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      I think that you are absolutely right on that one. The voters are often swayed more by charismatic personality than the actual merit and track record of the candidate. Thanks for dropping by and commenting.

    • profile image

      retief2000 4 years ago

      You should remember Filner's political party is the protected party of the press, Bill Clinton was a scoundrel for years before and after the Monica revelations and is still sacred to the media. Filner is merely a mayor and therefore occupies a much lower priority now.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      With so much political mudslinging going on there is no reason we can't have a calm conversation here. It seems to me that there is often truth behind the rumors and it eventually comes out. Filner managed to survive unscathed for 20 years as a Congessman and it is only now that we are seeing his dark side. Thanks for dropping in again.

    • profile image

      retief2000 4 years ago

      Your response is wonderfully polite and thoughtful, my deepest respect and gratitude for your manners. That gives insight into your questions about Issa.

      I offer this as a counter point, ambitious people make enemies without misconduct. How many vicious rumors are spread and unfounded accusations made about people of good character?

      Again, thank you for the thoughtfulness, it is refreshing on the internet and encourages me to work on my own manners, kudos.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      Glad you could offer your comments. This is a free forum in which all opinions are welcome. In response, once again I state that where there is smoke there is fire, and it seems to me that in the face of so many allegations against Issa there has to be some truth to it. In real life people get away with a lot before they are finally caught, but Issa has had the good fortune, and perhaps the friends in high places, to get everything swept under the rug for him. My opinion of the man is that he is disgustingly Machiavellian in his approach to politics, and I would be careful about putting my trust in him regardless of which side of the political fence I was on. Democrats should dump Filner like a hot potato, and I wouldn't place my faith in Issa either.

    • profile image

      retief2000 4 years ago

      Is there an actual crime in Issa's past or is it all allegations? Filner is proving himself to be a pig but where is the actual evidence against Issa.

      As for the $60,000 loan incident, good for Darrel - was it his money, what were the terms of the loan, how much time and leeway was the borrower given before the foreclosure and take over? If the borrower was a poor business manager and Issa proved more competent with the same business after the borrower defaulted - GOOD FOR ISSA!

      As for the Postal Service, it is a dying dinosaur and should be blessedly dispatched in favor of a federal policed private company - not the worthless and over priced hodgepodge of quasi-federal offices, regulations, responsibilities and protections.

      He is doing every American great justice by forcing the Post Office to manage its funds better and prepare for its inevitable bow to evolution and the fossilization process.

      Perhaps 60 million years from now some political paleontologist will unearth this caprolite right next to the fossilized, yet indistinguishable from the current, McCainus Rex.

      PS - if screwing your contributors out of money by wrecking their industry is a crime than every business and union in this country has been a regular victim of Democrat crimes dating back to FDR.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      I think if a person chooses to be a public servant than their character should lie within the normal range of what we would expect from ourselves or our family members. Having a fancy title should not give a politician license to do what they please, and past history often indicates future performance. Thanks for dropping by with your fantastic addition to this conversation.

    • chefsref profile image

      Lee Raynor 4 years ago from Citra Florida

      Excellent Hub

      In our current political climate, when a politician says what we want to hear we will ignore any flaw and elect him/her repeatedly. If another politician says things we don't want to hear he/she could be a saint but we would vilify them.

      In short, we care about ideology and reinforcement of our ideas, self interest, facts, character and morality be damned

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      I think issa's crusades are only to keep his name in the papers. Sometimes when you are as guilty or more guilty than the other guy the best strategy is just to shout him down. Thanks for dropping in.

    • profile image

      Howard Schneider 4 years ago from Parsippany, New Jersey

      Excellent Hub, Mel. I knew that Issa had a shady business past but I did not know about these alleged car thefts from his younger years. Now he is conducting these witch hunts against the Obama Administration. It takes a lot of nerve. This man has only bad character.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      I think you may be right about the psychopath label, but the disturbing thing to me is how the voters are seduced by people like this even though they are well informed about the candidate's bad past behavior. Perhaps it is because in this country we really have only two parties and sometimes we are forced to choose what we think is the lesser of two evils. Thank you for taking time out of your busy birding schedule to chime in on the subject!

    • aviannovice profile image

      Deb Hirt 4 years ago from Stillwater, OK

      As the old saying goes, once a victimizer, always a victimizer. Sadly, the man sounds like a grand example of psychopath, who is excellent at finding victims and abusing them with a smile on his face, convincing them that there is no problem.

    • Mel Carriere profile image

      Mel Carriere 4 years ago from San Diego California

      Seems like in politics all over the world integrity matters very little and duplicity is the defining characteristic . I don't know how long our societies can endure like this but when honesty is a character trait that people laugh at I'm afraid the glory days of Western Civilization are a thing of the past. Thank you for dropping in. I always enjoy your "down under" perspective .

    • Mel Jay profile image

      Mel Jay 4 years ago from Australia

      Hi Mel, this bloke sounds like bad news. We have a lot of politicians like this too. A lot of them only get involved for the opportunity to take advantage. Unlike almost every other government job, politicians don't go through rigorous testing and scrutiny here, except by other members of their political party that is. I think character is hugely important, but sadly, to succeed in politics, one also has to be ruthless, a sales expert, thick-skinned, able to speak in sound bites, and often, quite happy to ditch people the very moment a better deal comes along...great hub, up and interesting from me - Cheers, Mel


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