Via Bloomberg, here’s the chairman of the House Republican Conference (and the party’s choice to rebut Obama’s SOTU speech last year) floating an … interesting proposal for next year’s agenda. The key bit comes at 4:20. I can’t tell if she really thinks this is a good idea or if she’s just caught off-guard by a topic she wasn’t there to discuss and reverting to “tell the hosts what they want to hear” mode. The political argument for doing it, I guess, is that it’d stop the media from calling Republicans racist for 24 hours. But it’d cause Boehner lots of political headaches with his base too. For starters, conservatives will want to know why an ostensibly federalist party is meddling with state business when the New York legislature or the DOJ could deal with this matter themselves. Inevitably, Democrats will try to bring the Trayvon Martin and Michael Brown shootings up in the hearings, which will polarize an otherwise bipartisan inquiry into Garner’s death. Boehner will be left holding the bag on that since it was his leadership team that created the forum in the first place. Plus, I’m not convinced, as Noah argued yesterday, that right and left are all that unified in their reaction to the Garner grand jury decision. The commentariats of the right and left are pretty unified, and there’s definitely more unity among grassroots righties and lefties on Garner than there was on Martin and Brown. Anecdotally, though, I sensed plenty of support on Twitter and in comment threads for Ace’s sneer at conservative pundits over the Garner decision, that their reaction is supposedly being driven after Martin and Brown by a need to prove “We’re not one of those sorts of people who automatically defends anyone who kills a black person.” If Boehner, the RINO-in-chief, decides to make this a federal case for no better reason than to signal that the GOP leadership cares, that irritation will spread.
What would be the goal of the hearings policy-wise, anyway? What legislative remedy would they be aimed at? We don’t need the feds to step in and train the NYPD on proper procedure, as the NYPD already agrees that “any pressure on the throat or windpipe” is improper. (One top cop summarized the new policy when it was first set 20 years ago as “Basically, stay the hell away from the neck.”) An investigation of any national trends in excessive force by police would be interesting, but again, Democrats will try to turn that into a retrial of Ferguson, which will embitter the process instantly. One possibility: Hearings on the utility of body cameras for police. Obama’s already made that a federal matter and it’s potentially a rare point of agreement between Darren Wilson’s critics and defenders, all of whom are convinced that a camera on the scene would have vindicated their version of what happened. Body-camera hearings could be worthwhile. Think Boehner will risk it?