Here's a cold, hard fact Democrats will have to confront in the next Congress: Republicans have subpoena power.
And with twice the staff and funding for research and investigations, the newly Republican-controlled House Oversight and Government Reform Committee could become something of a drag for the Obama administration. There's been speculation that he will take up investigations on climate-gate, on rumored administration attempts to push Democratic candidates out of Senate races, and on other stuff that the administration probably doesn't want to supply documents, or personal testimony, in response to Issa's subpoenas.
It's questionable how much of that Issa will really take up, and he's signaled that he won't carry out his committee duties in the spirit of a witch hunter. But the possibilities loom, and people at least are talking about them, at least.
In light of such concerns, Democrats must decide whether to re-elect the current chairman of the committee, Brooklyn's Ed Towns, or to replace him with someone else. The full Democratic caucus (its 2011 incarnation, that is) will vote after Thanksgiving on who gets the job.
An open race for the spot has unfolded.
Ohio's Dennis Kucinich, who has chaired the committee's Domestic Policy Subcommittee in the past two Congresses, is running against Towns. Yesterday he circulated a letter to fellow House Democrats asking them to support him in his bid and warning that Issa "has already made wild and unsubstantiated charges which threaten to turn the principal oversight committee of the House into a witch hunt."