By Bill Kaplan
Political journalist Richard Rovere wrote: "The late Joseph R. McCarthy, a United States Senator from Wisconsin, was in many ways the most gifted demagogue ever bred on these shores. No bolder seditionist ever moved among us - nor any politician with a surer, swifter access to the dark places of the American mind." Until now. Trump trumped McCarthy with his latest false incendiary smear.
On Wednesday, at a rally, Trump said: "ISIS (Islamic State) is honoring President Obama. He is the founder of ISIS. He is the founder of ISIS, OK? He's the founder. He founded ISIS. And, I would say the co-founder would be crooked Hillary Clinton." No ambiguity. On Friday, Trump went from saying his smear was "sarcasm" to "but not that sarcastic, to be honest with you." However, emphatic serial lies are not facts.
Since 2014 President Obama has sent about 6,000 U.S. troops back to Iraq to help crush ISIS. And, the U.S. has been launching airstrikes in Iraq and Syria. Moreover, the U.S. has spent $ billions in the fight. So far, there are 17 U.S. dead, thousands of ISIS fighters killed and thousands of Iraqi military casualties. Some "founder" Obama. There's more.
The Washington Post Fact Checker, Glenn Kessler, debunked Jeb Bush's assertion that the Islamic State (ISIS) 'didn't exist when my brother was president'. The Post reported: "Indeed, to a large extent the Islamic State of today is simply an outgrowth of al-Qaeda of Iraq....Bush flatly stated as fact that ISIS did not exist when his brother was president - and that al-Qaeda in Iraq was wiped out when Obama took office. Both statements are false and worthy of Four Pinocchio's."
All reminiscent of when Gov. Scott Walker disgracefully responded to a question about ISIS: "If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the globe." The conservative National Review clobbered Walker: "Scott Walker's awful answer on ISIS....The protesters in Wisconsin...don't deserve to be compared to murderous terrorists." It gets worse.
On Thursday, Wisconsin GOP Rep. Sean Duffy was interviewed on MSNBC. Duffy refused to renounce Trump's slander that Obama was a "founder of ISIS." Duffy said: "When we're in rallies, things get a little animated." Finally, Duffy shrugged: "probably, no". A junior Joe McCarthy. And, on Friday, GOP National Committee Chair Reince Priebus at a Trump rally exclaimed: "Don't believe the garbage you read." Then he hugged Trump. Meanwhile, Wisconsin GOP Senator Ron Johnson couldn't find his voice while "running his own race". Then there is Speaker Paul Ryan.
Conservative Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin opined: "If attacking a Gold Star family, inviting Russia to meddle in our election and launching a racist attack on a federal judge are not grounds for pulling support (from Trump), it is fair to ask if Ryan has any red line." More to the point, why is Ryan not moving for a House vote on President Obama's repeated requests for Congress to authorize military force in Iraq? Enabling Trump's biggest lie.
Kaplan wrote a guest column from Washington, D.C. for the Wisconsin State Journal from 1995 - 2009