It looks like Republican Rep. Darrell Issa is taking a page out of Joe McCarthy’s playbook.
In his attempt to link President Obama’s White House directly to the scandal at the Internal Revenue Service, Issa, the Chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, appears to be using some of the very same tactics the McCarthy, the reviled Senator from Wisconsin, became infamous for in the 1950’s.
In his column on NationalJournal.com Monday, Ron Fournier leveled some harsh criticism toward Issa, saying the California Republican has “cherry-picked evidence, overstated his case, and violated the sacred American principle of presumed innocence” while acting as the chief congressional investigator into the IRS targeting of conservative groups last year.
Issa argued over the weekend that the Obama administration was involved in the IRS scandal. He also released partial transcripts of interviews with IRS employees from Cincinnati, insisting they proved a link.
In one part of the interview, the IRS employee—when asked if a supervisor gave any indication why a search for conservative groups was needed—said “He told me that Washington D.C. wanted some cases.” In another part, the unidentified employee says he/she was “taking all my direction” from the EO Technical,” which is the IRS Exempt Organization office in D.C. Several Democrats, including Rep. Elijah Cummings of Maryland, have dismissed the claims.
Fournier joined Chris Matthews on Hardball Tuesday to discuss his criticism of Issa and the ramifications his continued demagoguery could have on the Republican party.
“It’s not only deplorable on an ethical level, it’s politically stupid. Why not let the damning facts speak for themselves?” Fournier told Matthews. ”That’s why [Issa] is hurting his case, because what’s going to happen if he’s not careful and they keep demagoguing like this, the public’s going to tune it out, assume it’s all just pure politics, and if they do come up with something more, the public’s not going to believe it.”
Michael Steele, former Republican National Committee Chairman, was in lockstep with Fournier in his belief that Issa and some other Republicans appear to be over-playing their hand trying to implicate President Obama without the presence of much evidence.
“I think a lot of the ham-handed, loud noises right now distract from [building a real case against the administration] and give the White House the out that they need to say, ‘Well this is nothing more than a political circus,” Steele said. “But then you have others like Lindsey Graham who are saying can we cut this out and do it the right way? Can [Republicans] be smart about how we go about making this investigation real? I think more in the party need to listen to these voices in order to set this thing right. If we’re not careful, the validity of the argument, the value of the evidence will mean nothing because we’ve so politicized it.”
Matthews suggested that Republicans were motivated to criticize Obama for other reasons.
“What’s the Republicans’ jobs bill? What’s the Republicans’ health bill,” asked Matthews. “They don’t have a program. This is their program—trash Obama!”