Rove and his book are yesterday. Keep America Safe is on the march. Liz Cheney’s crackpot hit squad achieved instant notoriety with its viral video demanding the names of Obama Justice Department officials who had served as pro bono defense lawyers for Guantánamo Bay detainees. The video branded these government lawyers as “the Al Qaeda Seven” and juxtaposed their supposed un-American activities with a photo of Osama bin Laden. As if to underline the McCarthyism implicit in this smear campaign, the Cheney ally Marc Thiessen (one of the two former Bush speechwriters now serving as Washington Post columnists) started spreading these charges on television with a giggly, repressed hysteria uncannily reminiscent of the snide Joe McCarthy henchman Roy Cohn.
This McCarthyism has not advanced nearly so far as the original brand. Among those who have called out Keep America Safe for its indecent impugning of honorable Americans’ patriotism are Kenneth Starr, Lindsey Graham and former Bush administration lawyers in the conservative Federalist Society. When even the relentless pursuer of Monicagate is moved to call a right-wing jihad “out of bounds,” as Starr did in this case, that’s a fairly good indicator that it’s way off in crazyland.