House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy, who is in a position to likely become Speaker of the House after the midterm election, already holds the unofficial title of Liar of the House. Or one of the liars, anyway.
He is also distinguished, in at least two fairly disgraceful cases, by a willingness to compound his lies — by lying again after he was caught by claiming not to have said the things he said, which were at least, if not “lies,” at least falsehoods which were well within McCarthy power to grasp. (If not, we’re in even worse trouble than I thought.)
The case goes back to last fall, but has resurfaced, leading to an excellent piece by Washington Post Fact Checker Glenn Kessler. In Kessler’s piece, we learn that McCarthy had claimed that Attorney General Merrick Garland called parents of school children “terrorists,” even though Garland has denied ever saying such a thing.
Perhaps McCarthy is aware of an example (one that Kessler couldn’t locate) of evidence that Garland ever calling parents terrorists. I doubt it. Perhaps McCarthy will claim to have misspoken, retract and apologize. I don’t know. But Kessler, in his usual, careful way, nails the matter to the wall.
McCarthy accused Garland of calling parents “terrorists” after the parents had complained about discussion of “critical race theory” in public schools.
Although the essence of the parents’ complaints are rubbish, this particular brand of rubbish has been very popular on the right fringe of McCarthy’s party in recent months.
McCarthy, who used to be much less of fringe-er himself, not only took the fringe’s side, but added the new baseless accusation that Garland had referred to parents who are alarmed about this over-hyped matter as “terrorists.”
He did not, even slightly, call the parents terrorists, or at least not in any quote that can produce. The only reference from Garland’s statements about the parents in question was when he told the House Judiciary Committee that that he “can’t imagine any circumstance in which the Patriot Act would be used in the circumstances of parents complaining about their children, nor can I imagine a circumstance where they would be labeled as domestic terrorism.”
And that’s the only thing Garland said about “terrorism” in this matter — that he could not imagine anyone classifying what the parents in this matter did constituted “terrorism.”
At slightly greater length, the attorney general specified at House Judiciary Committee in question late last year that:
“Parents have been complaining about the education of their children and about school boards since there were such things as school boards and public education. This is totally protected by the First Amendment. I take your point that true threats of violence are not protected by the First Amendment. Those are the things we’re worried about here.”
By the way, Garland’s statement dates back to last October, after the National School Boards Association asked for federal resources to help monitor what it characterized as “threats of violence and acts of intimidation” against public school members and other school officials relating to the controversy over Critical Race Theory.
Note that it was the National School Boards Association that was worried about threats by those who were storming school board meetings to demand action against dangers of CRT.
I guess the reaction, and the effort by McCarthy and others to inaccurately portray what Garland said, has been simmering on some back burner for more than six months, and has now morphed into the simple falsehood that Garland called the parents terrorists, when Garland said nothing of the sort.
It apparently keeps coming up, and McCarthy referred to it twice in the past few days on Fox News interviews in which he said:
“We’re going to investigate the attorney general. Why did he go after parents, and call them terrorists, simply because they wanted to go to a school board meeting?”
— McCarthy, interview with Sean Hannity of Fox News, April 20
“The other thing that comes with a new [GOP] majority is you’re able to hold this administration accountable. We’re able to stand up to an attorney general who goes after parents and calls them terrorists if they want to go to a school board meeting.”
— McCarthy, interview on “Fox News Sunday,” April 17.
It’s ironic, at best, that the current crusader is named McCarthy, same name as Sen. Joe McCarthy, who turned McCarthyism into a term for making false claims about a much-hyped threat.