Rep. Elijah Cummings issues an impotent threat letter to the Center for Medical Progress.

(H/T: @FrontLineMD) Let me give you yet another example of Why Elections Matter. Let us imagine, for a moment, that we lived in an alternate universe where the Democrats still retained control of the House of Representatives. Let us also imagine that, in this world, that the Center for Medical Progress (CMP) had still conducted a sting operation that had caught Planned Parenthood and associated corporate customers engaged in ghoulish baby-harvesting. If those two things were the case, then this would be a chilling excerpt:

A leading Democrat wants to know if anti-abortion activists broke any federal or state laws when filming a series of undercover videos of Planned Parenthood.

Rep. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md., asked the anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress in a letter Thursday whether it used donations in its undercover investigation of Planned Parenthood. Cummings also wants to know if lawmakers were aware of any potential illegal activities surrounding the years-long investigation into Planned Parenthood.

Fortunately, Elijah Cummings is merely the Ranking Member of the Oversight Committee, not Chairman of it. That means more or less that he has precisely as much power to go after whistleblowers and muckrakers as the actual Chairman Jason Chaffetz will permit him. And seeing as [mc_name name=’Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C001076′ ] has instead decided to start a probe on just how much federal money is propping up the baby-harvesting business, I suspect that [mc_name name=’Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD)’ chamber=’house’ mcid=’C000984′ ] will not find CMP’s response satisfactory.

But, again: imagine what would have happened if Cummings was able to become Oversight Chair in 2011! Or, worse, if he had gotten it last year! Do you think that the Democrats would have any scruples against suppressing these exposes? They’re trying their best now; but their best is limited by their weak position in state and federal legislatures. Which is a handy reminder: there’s a reason why the Vote Party X to stop bad things from happening argument is so overused.  It’s because there’s a lot of validity to that argument, on general principles.

Don’t want to really accept that? That’s cool.  But ask yourself this: when CMP ends up giving testimony in front of an House Oversight panel – and they probably will – who do you think that they would prefer to be the one holding the gavel? Elijah Cummings? Or Jason Chaffetz?

Moe Lane (crosspost)