U.S. Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., may have won some approval from Internet junkies Wednesday when he responded to a series of public inquiries about his life and political stances via Reddit's Ask Me Anything thread.
Issa has recently made headlines for his purported role in preventing women from testifying in an all-male panel assigned to deliberate whether a mandate requiring employers to provide free contraception in company health insurance policy was a violation of those institutions' religious liberty. Democrats slammed Issa, who chairs the House Oversight Committee, after he refused a request from the ranking Democratic member to include testimony from Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke in the hearing that he repeatedly insisted was not focused on contraception.
The rationale for the now-infamous all-male panel was a subject several Redditors immediately jumped on. Issa once again emphasized the hearing was about the First Amendment religious liberties we all share before insisting that two women, Dr. Allison Garrett of Oklahoma Christian University and Dr. Laura Champion of Calvin College Health Services, were actually included in the hearing.
It didn't take long for Redditors to shoot back, reminding Issa that those witnesses -- both of whom are conservative Christians who already opposed the mandate -- were actually included in a second panel on the issue.
In response to a series of attacks from questioners about his lack of a response to Rush Limbaugh's controversial comments about Fluke, where he labeled her a slut for pushing her university to include birth control in its health insurance plan, Issa quickly posted a letter he penned on March 2 where he stated that he and other Republican members of the House Oversight Committee had not engaged in the personal smears against Ms. Fluke.
But the letter never actually condemned Limbaugh's misogynistic remarks. Instead, it essentially argued the Democratic members of the committee were hypocrites because of their clear failure to recognize [their] own contributions to the denigration of this discussion and attacks on people of religious faith.
The website participants asked Issa dozens of questions he did not touch, such as why he, in the discussion, touted the importance of the First, Second and Fifth Amendments but discounted the Fourth -- which has been interpreted to guarantee that Americans have a right to privacy -- whether he believed there should be limitations on the private transactions members of Congress can undertake while in office, and why he has not supported efforts to reduce California's prison population considering the state's budget shortfall.
In many of these instances, the thread was answered by a handle Darrel_Issa_voiding that simply said Darrel [sic.] would prefer not to comment on this.
Issa, who introduced himself on Reddit as an Internet defender and tech junkie, chose to focus on questions focusing on intellectual property and tech legislation, such as SOPA/PIPA and ACTA.
But, the congressman also took time to answer some of the thread's more light-hearted questions as well. In response to an inquiry about what kind of motorcycle he owns and the gear he typically dons, Issa didn't hesitate about delving into the details.
I ride a BMW 1200 RT. And yes, I do wear most of the gear all the time. Helmet, jacket, gloves, boots. I must admit, jeans are often my legwear. I'm new school with my bikes ... lots of manufactured materials, gave up the leather for warmer/more breathable/survivable materials and clothing, he wrote.
He also wasn't afraid to give the readers some details about some of his favorite gadgets. Issa apparently owns an Android phone as well as an iPad, which he called his go-to mobile device, and I don't see that changing anytime soon.
Other details revealed from the chat: Issa has endorsed Mitt Romney for president and said he supports free speech on all levels almost to the absolute extreme although he simultaneously condemned WikiLeaks for serving no legitimate purpose. Also, the congressman apparently has two favorite television shows -- Two and a Half Men and Battlestar Galactica.