WaPo Columnist: 'Is Darrell Issa the New Joe McCarthy?'

Washington Post columnist David Ignatius (a foreign editor and business editor of the Post in the 1990s) asked a bizarre question on the badly-named 'PostPartisan" blog: "Is Darrell Issa the new Joe McCarthy?" Clearly, the Post knows that when a liberal blurs you with McCarthy, they mean you are a life-wrecking, fact-mangling monster fueled by demons like ambition and alcohol. The headline is designed for web traffic, since the normally calm Ignatius concluded: "Issa doesn't come across as a McCarthyite." But Issa calling Team Obama "corrupt" was deeply upsetting to the Posties. Wrote Ignatius:

It was scary, frankly, to hear Issa describe the executive branch under President Obama as "one of the most corrupt administrations." What on earth was he talking about? This is an administration that has often tied itself in knots with petty ethical rules. Issa's comment bordered on demagogy.

When you see the righteous gleam in Issa's eye, recall other zealous congressional investigators who claimed to be doing the public's business but ended up pursuing vendettas. I think of Robert F. Kennedy's ruthless pursuit of labor "racketeering" when he was chief counsel of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations. And, more chilling, I think of Sen. Joseph McCarthy's use of that subcommittee to probe what he imagined was Communist Party subversion in America.

"What he imagined"? It was common before the Soviet Union fell to pretend there were no Communist Party members in the federal government, but evidence out of the Soviet archives and the declassified Soviet memos of the Venona Project strongly underlined that the people doing the "imagining" were liberals who claimed there were no communists in the bureaucracy.

It's almost as telling to see Ignatius dismissing "petty ethical rules" as raising any problem for Obama, their hero. Even in Liberal Land, they've admitted corruption is a problem -- when "petty ethics" were a political ploy. (See Team Obama dismiss their head of the Minerals Management Service for failing to clean out the "Bush corruption" fast enough during the oil-spill fiasco.)

Ignatius claims to be troubled that Issa's committee will use a "partisan knife" -- as if liberal Rep. Henry Waxman was the pure essence of nonpartisanship??

Issa proposes to use his new post as chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee to investigate six major topics, ranging from corruption in Afghanistan to the misdeeds of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. They're all worthy subjects, but with each you can see the twist of a partisan knife.

Reading Issa's agenda, he seems to alternate between seeking less government interference (as in his probe of "government hyperregulation" of business) or more (as in his inquiry about "government strategy for combating" Wikileaks) -- depending on how he can best stick it to the Democrats.

Ignatius ended: "Issa doesn't come across as a McCarthyite. Indeed, he has struck me as one of the smarter and more creative members of the Republican caucus. But he now has the whip in his hand, and investigative power, as we have so many times in American history, can be grotesquely abused." This is the way Washington journalists intimidate polticians: call it a pre-smear, a whiff of the smears to come. The only thing that's been grotesquely abused are the McCarthy analogies.

[Hat tip: Smotley]

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis