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Darrell Issa discovers Obama isn't so bad after all

It would have been hard to predict Darrell Issa, of all people, trying to survive politically by connecting his record to the president's. And yet, here we are.
File photo: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) leads a hearing on Benghazi. (Photo by: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
File photo: House Oversight and Government Reform Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) leads a hearing on Benghazi.
It's no secret that during Bill Clinton's presidency, congressional Republicans were more than a little hostile towards the Democratic White House. GOP lawmakers effectively hunted Clinton for the better part of eight years, launching a seemingly endless stream of investigations, and accusing the Democratic president of all kinds of criminal misdeeds.But after Clinton left office as a fairly popular national figure, Republicans eventually came to believe he wasn't so bad after all. At an event a couple of years ago, Rep. Matt Salmon (R-Ariz.) looked back fondly at a bygone era. "I started my stint under President Bill Clinton," Salmon said, "and I'm the opposite party and I'd give my right arm to have him back right now."Salmon, incidentally, voted to remove Bill Clinton from office in 1998, supporting all four articles of impeachment against the then-president.The estimable Robert Schlesinger calls this "Clinton Nostalgia Syndrome": a condition that leads Republicans, many of whom hated the Democratic president while he was in office, to look back fondly at Bill Clinton's tenure, sometimes even tying themselves to his work.Will we eventually see "Obama Nostalgia Syndrome," too? By some measures, it's already begun. The Huffington Post published a great report yesterday on Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) facing a surprisingly difficult challenge from Democrat Doug Applegate, a retired Marine colonel seeking elected office for the first time. How concerned is Issa about his chances? Enough to present himself as a cooperative ally to President Obama.

Issa's confidence is beginning to wane. While he's refused to revoke his endorsement of Trump, he is evidently anxious about being associated with him. New mailers sent out by his campaign showcase Issa's alliance with Obama to pass legislation that established a bill of rights for survivors of sexual assault.

For those who know anything about Issa's record, this is a little hilarious.The conservative Californian, during his time as chairman of the House Oversight Committee, took it upon himself to be one of Congress' most rabid anti-Obama attack dogs. Issa accused the president of all kinds of terrible misdeeds -- none of which were ever proven, each of which eventually faded away.The GOP congressman's obsession with targeting Obama was at times embarrassing, but Issa nevertheless saw it as his responsibility to do what he could to bring the president down. This recent history makes it all the more surprising that the congressman, worried about losing, would send out a mailer to voters effectively saying how great it is he and the president work together to get things done.There are a combination of factors at play here, including President Obama's popularity reaching a second-term high, just as the congressman and his campaign team start to panic about the election. But if Darrell Issa, of all people, hopes to survive politically by connecting his record to the president's, don't be too surprised if quite a few Republicans start saying in the not too distant future, "Maybe that Obama guy wasn't so bad after all."