Watergate, McCarthy References Fly Fast and Furious at Hearing

COMMENTARY | The Washington Examiner is reporting that Attorney General Eric Holder, while under harsh questioning by Rep. Rep Darrell Issa, R-Calif, the chair of the House Oversight Committee about the Fast and Furious gunwalking scandal, played the Joe McCarthy card.

Of course this was after Issa played the Watergate card.

Fast and Furious was a program conducted by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms that featured allowing representatives of various Mexican drug cartels to buy weapons in American gun stores. The idea was that these weapons would be tracked to members of the various cartels, who could then be identified and arrested. Unfortunately, the tracking never occurred and hundreds of people have been killed on both sides of the border with weapons bought under Fast and Furious. It is the sort of thing that makes one wonder what — if anything — the folks at the ATF were thinking.

Issa is attempting to get to the bottom of the project, trying to find out who knew what and when. Holder, in Issa’s view, is stonewalling. At one point, Issa lost his temper and, while suggesting that Holder could be held in contempt of Congress, compared him to Nixon’s Watergate-era Attorney General, John Mitchell.

Holder answered the Watergate reference with a Joe McCarthy reference when he responded, “Have you no shame?”

This was a reference to an incident that took place during the McCarthy/Army hearings when Army Counsel Joseph Nye Welch retorted to McCarthy, “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

This kind of posturing by historical innuendo is slightly amusing. Watergate, while still considered the mother of all scandals, did not involve mass numbers of people getting killed because of an ill-considered program by the United States government. Issa, on the other hand, is hardly Joe McCarthy. Whatever the merits of Red-hunting in the 1950s, McCarthy was as much interested in his own political profile as he was in getting to the bottom of alleged communist infiltration in the United States government. Issa is ferreting out a problem that is very real in which, so far, the guilty have escaped.

Holder is proving the old adage that the cover-up is worse for the perpetrators than is the actual crime. A thorough housecleaning could have addressed Fast and Furious, with the appropriate people fired and perhaps prosecuted. Instead Holder is stretching things out and is creating unnecessary drama in an attempt to escape responsibility. Issa is therefore more correct in his Watergate reference than Holder was in his McCarthy one.

Source: Fireworks as Issa compares Holder to Nixon’s AG, Philip Klein, Washington Examiner, Dec 8, 2011

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