A half-century ago, flamboyant Sen. Joseph McCarthy was censured by Congress because he falsely accused many Americans of being treasonous secret communists.
Now, a Tea Party leader and failed presidential candidate, Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., is playing the same witch-hunt game. She and four other far-right House members demanded an investigation of a Muslim aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, hinting that the aide may have subversive motives.
The accusers said Huma Abedin's long-dead father once led an organization that got funds from a group indirectly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood, which recently won power in Egypt. The claim about Abedin's father came from an online video titled "The Muslim Brotherhood in America: The Enemy from Within," by a right-wing radio host who served in the Reagan administration.
Bachmann declared that "we will not tolerate this group and its affiliates holding positions of power in our government or influencing our nation's leaders."
Honorably, fellow Republicans rose to defend Abedin against Bachmann's assault. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a Senate speech:
"These allegations about Huma and the report from which they are drawn are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable citizen, a dedicated American and a loyal public servant ... . I am proud to know Huma, and to call her my friend."
McCain said the "sinister accusations" against the Clinton aide "have no logic, no basis and no merit." He said the accusers couldn't cite "one instance of an action, a decision or a public position that Huma has taken while at the State Department" to support their claim of subversion.
After McCain's blistering defense, another of the accusers, Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, indirectly called him a "numbnut." Appearing on the conservative Dennis Miller Show on Fox News, Gohmert said "I wish some of these numbnuts would go out and read the letter" before making statements.
However, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, sided with McCain, saying: "Accusations like this being thrown around are pretty dangerous."
What a carnival. Tea Party leaders -- especially Bachmann -- have a ludicrous streak. She and her husband operate a clinic that claims to turn gays "straight" through prayer. Apparently she has expanded to smearing Muslim-Americans.