I can't recall the last time I commended a Republican legislator. It might have been Jacob Javitz? Perhaps, Lowell Weicker. In any case, I've never voted for one.
But amid the nauseating piety, the repetitious groupthink, and the hysterical bombast baseball fans hear daily from the media and George Mitchell's Washington cronies about the nefarious spectre of steroids, the witches' brew Roger Clemens allegedly ingested, and the witch-craft his late-career statisics supposedly imply--- amid the cry to deplore and to punish, one Congressman has distinguished himself for his independence, his wisdom, his sense of fairness and proportion and above all, his historical vision. And for the clarity of that vision, he deserves praise and recognition, even if he is a Republican: Representative Darrell Issa of California's 46th Congressional District.
The Congressman had this to say last week.
"To me, [the steroids brouhaha] smacks of the McCarthy era. We have the broadest investigation power in the House...I'm hoping we're not abusing it. I've noticed that to a certain extent we're doing the same thing [Joseph McCarthy once did] here, promenading people before Congress," though the inquiry has outgrown its original justification and has beggared the committee's time and resources.
Yet there's a deeper and more far-reaching historical current feeding Congress' sick obsession.
You needn't hearken back to Salem or to evoke McCarthyism for the parallels to disturb you. Just recall yesterday. Remember 1998? The last time a moral frenzy gripped Washington and deprived our leaders of foresight and circumspection, while the public rolled its eye and recoiled in disgust.
Then, the House Judiciary and Oversight Committees spent months investigatin the great harm the wayward Presidential penis wrought to our Republic. Meanwhile, Osama Bin-Laden and al-Qaeda gathered in Afghanistan, solidifying their power, establishing base camps, planning and preparing the most lethal and calamitous attack ever inflicted on American soil.
Today, another war-ravaged Islamic country confronts the U.S. with a power vacuum (albeit this time of its own making) where terorrists run rampant and militants committed to slaugherting Americans slowly accumulate power and influence despite the presence of 160,000+ US troops. Meanwhile, the U.S. House Oversight Committee convenes a grand Inquistition into lesions on The Rocket's Ass. And the fans of a $5 billion dollar industry at the height of its popularity shrink, again, with revulsion at the conduct of their representatives.
From where does this hysteria arise? Daniel Bell explained it as follows:
"The moralism so characteristic of the American temper had a peculiar schizoid character: it would be imposed with vehemence in the areas of private conduct...The idea of the 'right of people to know'... operates without a sense of limits and often becomes an invasion of privacy. For what is it that 'the people' have a right to know? One's morals and habits? One's political views? The self-appointed guardians of morals insisted on the right of scrutiny of private conduct in the name of public decency... [Meanwhile, this moralism] is rarely heard regarding the depredations of business and the corruption of politics... and in the arena of foreign policy allows us [to refuse] to face realities."
God help us if this time Congress refusal to face reality presages the arrival of incipient horrors they've, once again, neglected.