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Posted at 6:37 PM ET, 01/ 5/2011

Is Darrell Issa the new Joe McCarthy?

By David Ignatius

To the victors in the congressional elections goes the power of subpoena, as Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) has been so eager to remind the Democrats. But as the new Congress is seated, Issa and his GOP colleagues should note the difference between investigation and witch-hunt. Too often in our political history, the former has turned into the latter.

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.

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.

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.

By David Ignatius  | January 5, 2011; 6:37 PM ET
Categories:  Ignatius  | Tags:  David Ignatius  
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Oh! Issa definitely comes across as a McCarthyite, but his first six subjects to investigate are going to be quite entertaining.

Wikileaks hardly touches on the Obama Administration, just on some poor dolt who got conned into leaking memos whose claim to classification are mostly because they were sent via secure communications and therefore could theoretically halp crack our codes.

All the rest have a wonderful potential to enmesh the Bush Administration far more than Obama. When his investigation of TARP and the bank bailout discover that Bush's boys tried to pull an Iraqi style contract set up, wherein the money could be disbursed and never tracked because of deliberate loopholes built into the legislation, and only Obama's diligent quality control made TARP nearly a profit making venture.

Issa's prefatory press has already smeared his Committee with McCarthyite coloring. Unless he significantly changes tack, he will be an unmitigated embarrassment to his party long before the next election fires up.

Posted by: ceflynline | January 5, 2011 7:45 PM | Report abuse

It's time for the Bush Crime Family to be arrested along with the weasels on Wall St. It is time for those who lied us into war like Douglas Feith, Rumsfeld and Cheney to go on trial.

Posted by: mot2win | January 5, 2011 9:08 PM | Report abuse

Rep Issa is among the extreme right. He wants to waste time and money investigating Obama much like the repubs did Clinton. Investigating Obamacare will save no one money not even the federal government.

How to reduce the cost of the federal government in a large way?

Mandate that all federal government employees including all elected officials
use IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for All. Instead of using the most expensive medical insurance industry in the world. YES!

This would be having our government insure itself as some corporations and wealthy individuals do. This would be a frugal step in the right direction.

IMPROVED Medicare Insurance for ALL will create an estimated 2.6 million jobs and save consumers an estimated $350 billion annually. Let’s get on with it.

The country needs new industry and jobs not political BS. Now I am calling for revolutionary steps and peaceful protest. WE VOTERS need to say NO MORE special interest funding of elections!!!

Let’s keep the costs down so many others can afford to run! Replace 95% of all elected officials every 4 years in the house and every 6 years for the Senate. Not voting sends the wrong message and changes nothing. Incumbents say NO to the voters and YES to corrupt special interest money.

Lets’s demand a new system : Fair Vote America :

Public financing of campaigns. Citizens cannot afford special interest money campaigns for it is the citizens that get left out. Let citizens vote on this issue.

When will the media get on the the band wagon for public financing of all elected political offices?

Posted by: rheckler2002 | January 5, 2011 9:15 PM | Report abuse

Uh, no, he's not McCarthy. Please.

Posted by: slatt321 | January 5, 2011 9:20 PM | Report abuse

Ive always told my friends that it is always interesting to see a co-worker get promoted, because then you will see their true character. Well, Mr. Issa has already let us see his character in full glowering color. Arrogance of the first order, inuendos, down right lies and real snarkiness of his part. Unfortunately for us, his 15 minutes of fame will last a few years and something tell me that we will be seeing alot of him of prime time. I read that he wrote letters to the major corporations in our country soliciting complains regarding the administration. What a price republicans have in him. He is the one of course who was charged with felonies and corruption in the 80ies in California.

Posted by: Listening2 | January 5, 2011 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Bush family of politicians "Rebuilding America's Defences," openly advocates for total global military domination. Many PNAC members held highest-level positions in the George W. Bush administration.

Posted by: rheckler2002 | January 5, 2011 9:28 PM | Report abuse

Um, no, he's not McCarthy. Please.

Posted by: slatt321 | January 5, 2011 9:29 PM | Report abuse

What did Obama get after two years of trying to force bipartisan support?

1. If Democrats try to pass something without Republican input, Republicans filibuster.

2.If Democrats try to pass something with Republican input, Republicans filibuster.

3.If Republicans propose legislation and Democrats agree to it, Republicans filibuster.

The Senate has become the place where legislation passed in the House—even legislation with bipartisan support—goes to die.

If the middle class would boycott all spending except for absolute necessities for sixty days Wall Street would tumble and the white collar folks would wake up..... so would congress.

The middle class could take control!

Posted by: rheckler2002 | January 5, 2011 9:32 PM | Report abuse

I guess the progressives/liberals over the last two years forgot about congressional oversight. Congress is actually suppose to pull people from the administration in front of congress and they are actually suppose to look into what they've been doing and why. I know, with Nancy and Harry in charge, the congress hasn't been doing that in the last two years. That is, except for Zoe Lofgren bringing in Steve Colbert. But, at least the republicans are talking about conducting serious hearings on serious topics. If progressives don't like all I can say is, get over it , the republicans won the last election.

Posted by: termiteavenger | January 5, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse

Two major differences. McCarthy's witch hunts hurt many individuals, but were not a threat to the nation as a whole. The purpose of issas announced witch hunts threaten to undermine the entire nation.

And two, McCarthy was investigating something that actually posed a threat to the US, even though he was doing it for political purposes and with not more than a scrap or two of evidence in the entire scope of his hearings. issa is planning probes of imaginary boogey men dreamed up by radio pundits to scare rubes into voting gop --

So in short - there are plenty of similarities, but ultimately issa is a slimier and more dangerous fool than that feckless drunk mccarthy.

Posted by: John1263 | January 5, 2011 9:37 PM | Report abuse

We saw how well Democrats did with "transparency" and "draining the swamp". Now it's time for Issa to get in there and try to find out how Democrats could screw up things so badly. Lots to do so little time.

Posted by: Desertdiva1 | January 5, 2011 10:58 PM | Report abuse

The newly glorified "tea party" - formerly the Libertarian party but now includes old white guys and some gals who don't like this particular brand of President - is being lauded by the media as the reason they won back the House (and most media outlets imply they won back the Senate too). Why is there no story that, had there been no "tea party", Republicans would have won the Senate. Three states would have switched to Republican - Conn., Nev. and Colo., for sure - and the Repubs would have the Senate, why does no one talk about that...well, it didn't fit the narrative, which is driven by Fox, and lapped up by the Mainstream Media. Weird.

P.S. Scott Brown is repellent to the "tea party", and the are repellent to him also. But you wouldn't know it by watching cable TV. That narrative is no fun

Posted by: johnkomalley | January 5, 2011 11:02 PM | Report abuse

johnkomalley: The newly glorified "tea party" - formerly the Libertarian party but now includes old white guys and some gals who don't like this particular brand of President....

Hah! You don't even come close to understanding from where the Tea Party is coming and, as a result, you don't have a clue on the dynamics involved in the elections. The Tea Party people aren't libertarians, they are reformers. But, the bigger question is, despite the fact Congress has deplorable favorability ratings, why is it that the democrats consistently just vote for any D that is put in front of them. Seems, after all, it's the D's that are simply lemmings blindly voting for whoever they are told to vote for. Doesn't it?

Posted by: termiteavenger | January 6, 2011 1:24 AM | Report abuse

What do you expect when you give the House's car keys to a car thief?

Posted by: Bugs222 | January 6, 2011 7:22 AM | Report abuse

No one seems to remember that it was Issa's money, funding the signature gathering, which led to the recall of Gov. Davis and the election of Gov. Schwartznegger.
How'd that work out?
Issa is blinkered, therefore dangerous when in a position of power.

Posted by: GeneTouchet | January 6, 2011 9:28 AM | Report abuse

I certainly hope so! Joseph McCarthy was the man who outed the Communists and really there appears to be MANY more in our government today, then the 50s so lets CALL THEM OUT! American's knew who was an actual Socialist, Communist, Statist they will no doubt throw them out on their butts, well expect on the two coasts where their ideological brethern reside!

Posted by: Jaded2 | January 6, 2011 9:41 AM | Report abuse

bizarre how someone accused of supporting terrorist organizations gets rewarded as chairman of the house committee on oversight and government reform

Posted by: manittou | January 6, 2011 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Re: John1263
The above says that McCarthy was a threat to individuals, not to the country as a whole. He is mistaken & either not old enough to remember or not well-read on the subject. McCarthyism threatened the very soul of this country. The fear permeated every aspect of life. This might not have been true in the small towns of the midwest, but was most certainly a fact of life wherever liberalism & intellectualism existed. My college could not even build a student union building because the students were all afraid to sign anything. Many of our teachers & professors lost jobs without proof of their so-called treason.
It was a terrible time in our country & unless we are willing to learn about it, we will repeat it. I have been saying for some time now that the state of the US is such that I can see McCarthyism looming once again. It would be nice to be wrong!

Posted by: naomi8 | January 6, 2011 10:02 AM | Report abuse

Is Darrell Issa the new Joe McCarthy?

Hmm...I dunno Is Barack Obama the new Richard Nixon?

Unfortunately, The American public will never know because the Washington Post does not apply the same Watergate Style Investigative Reporting Stardards to our current administration they applied to other admins in the past. Instead, the Washington Post enables, turns a blind eye and cosigns the corrupt and unethical behavior of the Obama Admin.
One only has to go to the Judicial Watch website to see that Washington Post is NOT doing their job as ethical journalists. What a sad state of affairs.

Posted by: skillssss | January 6, 2011 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Let's see:

1. 'Corruption in Afghanistan', before or after 2009? Perhaps he should investigate why BinLadden got away in 2001, instead.

2. I didn't see Iraq in the list. Has he investigated why we attacked Iraq in the first place? Or better yet, has he forgotten the 190,000 guns that disappeared (when Petraeus was in charge of that operation)?

3. I did notice FannieMae and FreddieMac on the list. Will he investigate why the Republican-controlled House & Senate replaced the management in 2003? The old management refused to bless the new loan 'products' that the banks wanted to push. You know, the products that led to the collapse of the economy.

I suppose not. I'm sure he'll investigate why Boehner (and Issa?) did not honor the term limits agreement they made in 1994 on the 'Contract With America'. He will also investigate why the Republican-controlled House will not come up with the $100 billion in savings they stated last October/November. He will also investigate why the Republicans are already waiving the pay-go rules. And I am SURE that he'll investigate why so many lobbyists are now the Office Managers for incoming Republicans.

Posted by: AMviennaVA | January 6, 2011 10:45 AM | Report abuse

Does Ignatius think we are stupid, or what? It is amazing that he could look himself in the mirror and ask with a straight face, "Is Issa the new McCarthy?" after the Democrats let Henry Waxman behave the way he did. Is it something in the water at the Post? Is it just not possible for Post writers and pundits to actually pursue the "greater and common good"? Can they not be "objective" or must they always be ultra-partisan? Aside, I would take Issa over Waxman in a "NY second" anyway. Would anyone let Henry "the mustache" Waxman anywhere near a decision that directly impacts your wallet, your household, your community, your school, or your church?

Posted by: Husker78 | January 6, 2011 11:04 AM | Report abuse

is Issa the new McCarthy? Maybe, but these are different times. In McCarthy's time, both parties had plenty of dirt on Tailgunner Joe, but were either too afraid to use it or felt some sense of misguided comraderie with the man or a combination of both. Then MCarthy went too far, finally, and started eating his own. Issa, also, has plenty of dirt in his past and maybe present and it will be used against him if he gets too over zealous. This isn't the 1950's anymore.

Posted by: Sandydayl | January 6, 2011 11:08 AM | Report abuse

McCarthy was an arrogant ass but intelligent! issa is just a common but dumb thief using the largest part of his anatomy --- a big ugly mouth!

Posted by: jetlone | January 6, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

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

Posted by: StewartIII | January 6, 2011 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Surely everyone realizes that Issa and the remainder of the Republican Party are the McCarthy's of today....they sell fear and attract the ignorant, the bigoted and hate-filled people in our country to please the greedy. It is sad but that is what they have come to represent.

Posted by: gilbertpb40 | January 6, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

"The Tea Party people aren't libertarians, they are reformers," says termiteavenger.

Really? Here in Florida, where I live, the TeaPs seem to be mostly senile old people worried that some evil communist is going to take away their Medicare and that socialist Obamoron is going to take away their Social Security.

The one thing the TeaPs here have in common with the loonietarians and reformers is that they absolutely hate the idea of any tax money or tax-supported service going to poor and/or minority people. "They," as you know, have all been living on welfare for generations, which is why "they" are all criminals and low achievers who pump out babies all the time.

Posted by: roblimo | January 6, 2011 2:24 PM | Report abuse

No actually most of the Tea Party are well meaning stooges that bought the Retardican and Corporatist rheteric. They have been conned into voting against their own best intrests more than once and will probablydo so many more times before they get a clue and fight with instead of against the Party thats been trying to help the middle class. The Progressives are for more acountable government, energy independence, less intrusive government,less waste in spending, returning and creating jobs in America,better healthcare for all, better education,we just have a differnt point of veiw where to look at these issues. Progressives unlike Republicans believe that we should support creating jobs in the USA not give tax breaks to corporations that send them out of the country.We believe that having a clean energy technology will create future jobs instead of subsidizing oil comppanies who drill here and don't even pay for the privedge that earns them profits of 500% per year.We believe that government should value peoples rights especially the 1st and 4th amendments that protect us , not spy on its citizens in order to promote fear and the corporate millitary industrialst agenda. we beieve that without an educated future generation we will become nothing more than wage slaves for the corporatists that wish to rule our country.So you tell me Tea party people do you stand with us and Democracy or are you nothing more than a robot drone sent by Faked News and the Corporate agenda.

Posted by: functionfit | January 6, 2011 2:53 PM | Report abuse

Oh McCarthyism...the HORROR!!

Gosh if only liberals didn't rewrite history based on the Communists point of view. The fact is most of the people McCarthy went after WERE COMMUNISTS and did in fact aid the Soviet Union.

Posted by: ams1986 | January 7, 2011 10:55 AM | Report abuse

He can't get cap n trade through the legislature so he gets the EPA to declare CO2 to be a pollutant. Yes, that is corruption.

Posted by: dsgoorevitch | January 7, 2011 12:45 PM | Report abuse

Man the Marxists are pulling out all the stops. McCarthy, Racist, Lunatics. Boy they are going for broke with the Alinsky tactics. Sorry fools we know the playbook now. The people like the writer of this article are so transparent it is sad they live in such an isolated world they don't realize how stupid they sound. Oh by the way I do believe McCarthy ended up right about the Communists. But let's not let facts screw up a Marxist story.

Posted by: harley2002 | January 7, 2011 9:13 PM | Report abuse

Declassified U.S. and Soviet archives show that McCarthy was right, but don't expect the mainstream media to tell us that.
There are claims that McCarthy destroyed the lives/careers of some who came before his committee hearings, but those claims never seem to be backed up by any names.

Posted by: DirtFarmer1 | January 7, 2011 9:21 PM | Report abuse

Can you see the headlines now:


I love it.

Posted by: joshcomm | January 8, 2011 4:16 PM | Report abuse

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