Why bother governing when you can hunt for scandals?

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Things have gotten so bad in Washington that the respected senior members of the Senate, such as John McCain and Lindsey Graham, have publicly denounced their newer Republican colleagues, Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, calling their actions “stupid.” Usually a conference of representatives of each house is called to resolve budget issues. Cruz has stopped the process, claiming that he, a Republican, doesn’t trust his fellow Republicans.

Meanwhile, over in the House, hearing after hearing is being scheduled with the express hope of somehow pinning something on Obama. Occasionally, some headline-seeking member will utter the “I” word, impeachment.

Pick one of three subjects, and whichever one you choose, there have been multiple hearings on it. The tragedy in Benghazi, Libya (12 hearings); the IRS investigation of conservative groups seeking those exemptions (seven hearings); and the investigation of members of the press over leaks (two hearings, and more coming). All of the hearings are seeking a “gotcha” moment when they can prove that the president knew something and didn’t admit it.

Every so often, some brave member of Congress shows his or her disgust with the troublemakers and publicly disavows one of them. Rep. Peter King, upset that the New York State Republican Party invited Cruz to speak at its dinner, boycotted it. It seems that Cruz voted against Sandy aid for New York, and that was King’s way of thumbing his nose at Cruz.

Years ago I first heard the expression “The inmates are running the asylum.” It isn’t that bad yet in the nation’s capital, but it’s well on the way to it. A little too much “gotcha” and too much hope for scandal is all we’re getting these days from Washington.

Jerry Kremer was a state assemblyman for 23 years, and chaired the Assembly’s Ways and Means Committee for 12 years. He now heads Empire Government Strategies, a business development and legislative strategy firm. Comments about this column? JKremer@liherald.com.

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