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The trouble with using elections to clean house is keeping even worse choices from reaching office. Voters can see this dynamic in play in Northern California, where a former Congressman has decided to challenge House Resources Committee chair Richard Pombo for his seat in the Republican primary. However, Pete McCloskey has a lot of his own baggage to carry:
A former congressman and longtime critic of America's alliance with Israel is hoping voter anger over bribery and ethical breaches in Washington will help him unseat a powerful committee chairman in a Republican primary in California next week.
Paul McCloskey Jr., 78, known as "Pete," is challenging Richard Pombo, 45, who has spent seven terms in Congress and presides over the panel that oversees energy and public land issues, the House Resources Committee.
In an interview with The New York Sun yesterday, Mr. McCloskey, who served in Congress between 1967 and 1983 and was among the first to call for the impeachment of President Nixon, said he decided to run again because of his sense of an ethical decline among Republican leaders.
"After 12 years in power, I think they've been corrupted," he said. "They've done precisely what the Democrats have done during their period in power."
Sounds great so far, right? I've advised conservatives to get active in the primaries and offer better alternatives to incumbents who do not support the conservative agenda, although I am unsure whether that applies to Pombo or not. Even if it does, sometimes the cure is worse than the disease, as we can see from the New York Sun's further exploration of McCloskey's past:
While some press accounts of the race have drawn parallels between Mr. McCloskey's vocal opposition to the Vietnam War and his outspoken criticism of the war in Iraq, news coverage of the current contest has made almost no mention of the ex-congressman's long history of clashes with Jewish groups.
Mr. McCloskey is a co-founder of a group aimed at revamping America's "collusive relationship" with Israel, the Council for the National Interest. The group recently took out an ad in the New York Times promoting an academic paper in which professors at Harvard and the University of Chicago claimed that a pro-Israel lobby has a stranglehold on American foreign policy.
In 2000, Mr. McCloskey spoke at a conference organized by the leading Holocaust denial organization in America, the Institute for Historical Review.
"I came because I respect the thesis of this organization - the thesis being that there should be a reexamination of whatever governments say or politicians say or political entities say," he told the group, according to its Web site. "The Jewish community has the power to suppress, either by advertising or control of the media, news reports that are hostile to Israel...The Jewish community is dedicated to preserve that state, and to destroy those who speak against it."
McCloskey later said that he had no affiliation with the IHR, claiming to have written them a letter advising them to "get off the anti-Holocaust kick"; McCloskey either has no clue or deliberately evades the point that Holocaust denial is the primary reason for the IHR's existence. He also denies that he is an anti-Semite, despite his repetition of paranoid theories of Jewish media control. It would be funny if it weren't so pathetic.
We need to keep our options open in primaries and use them to make our candidates as sharp as possible for the general election. We don't need to push nutcases past their expiration date into the mix. Republicans should shut down the McCloskey Rant Campaign forthwith.Sphere It View blog reactions
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