The new era of McCarthyism in Congress is over.
Republican Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy abruptly dropped out of the race to replace John Boehner as Speaker of the House of Representatives after admitting the truth about the House Benghazi investigation‘s real intentions: dragging down Hillary Clinton’s poll numbers before the 2016 presidential primary season. In the wake of the surprise announcement, the vote for a new Speaker has been delayed altogether because Republicans are having trouble finding qualified candidates from their caucus to run for the position.
McCarthyism is an American political dogma which started in the 1950s and was named after former Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy, who turned political investigation of socialists and communists into a state priority. Long regarded as evil and un-American, McCarthyism is defined in Wikipedia as “the practice of making accusations of subversion or treason without proper regard for evidence. It also means ‘the practice of making unfair allegations or using unfair investigative techniques, especially in order to restrict dissent or political criticism.'”
Ironically, McCarthy’s verbal gaffe on Fox News revealed his own true intentions as similar to the old Communist hunters, yanking Republicans velvet glove off when he thought only his own base was watching, to reveal the iron fist of the “vast right-wing conspiracy” Hillary Clinton has fought for decades. Fox News has reported incessantly on the tragic attack in Libya which claimed the lives of an American Ambassador and 3 other staffers on September 11th, 2012 and in over three years, this is its first major factual revelation.
Hillary Clinton boldly took responsibility for the security failure in October 2012 at a US Senate investigation, barely one month after the attacks. The House of Representatives also conducted an investigation, which never quite ended, until Republican congressmen voted to create the “United States House Select Committee on Benghazi” which Kevin McCarthy revealed to be nothing more than a political witch hunt committee and who has spent over $4,500,000 in taxpayer dollars investigating Hillary Clinton. Republicans zeroed in on the genuine uncertainty of the moment at different levels of the State Department and Obama’s administration to claim a world-stopping conspiracy by Clinton. After a whole year investigating Hillary Clinton, all they discovered is that as Secretary of State under Obama, she’d lawfully maintained a private email server for her public duties (which has since been forbidden for new Cabinet members), leading to bad press for Hillary throughout the summer and bad poll numbers. At the new year, Hillary Clinton was the Most Admired Woman in America in a non-partisan poll released by Gallup, and Barack Obama was the Most Admired Man in America.
Now that McCarthy has dropped out, it’s unclear who can lead the fractured and angry Republican congressional majority if anyone. Rep. Paul Ryan ran for Vice President only three years ago, but considers the job political suicide as the Washington Post reported this week, and says that he prefers his post as Chairman of the power Ways & Means Committee which has literally the power of the purse and controls all government spending. Utah Rep. Jason Chaffetz threw his hat into the ring for Speaker this past weekend, drawing rave reviews from the hard core Tea Partiers, but clearly didn’t move his party since they’re postponing the race rather than coronating the former BYU placekicker who sleeps in his congressional office and is “used to losing.” Even House Republicans realized that naming the guy who just got labelled “pants on fire” for slandering Planned Parenthood wouldn’t be good politics.
No matter who becomes the next Speaker of the House, it’s reassuring that the 2nd person in the line of Presidential succession won’t be best known for turning tragedies into unfair investigations of political enemies like Kevin McCarthy.
Grant Stern is the Executive Editor of Occupy Democrats and published author. His new Meet the Candidates 2020 book series is distributed by Simon and Schuster. He's also mortgage broker, community activist and radio personality in Miami, Florida., as well as the producer of the Dworkin Report podcast. Grant is also an occasional contributor to Raw Story, Alternet, and the DC Report, and a senior advisor to the Democratic Coalition