THE BLOG
04/15/2010 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

Is Sarah Palin Sen. Joe McCarthy Redux?

Coming soon to a hearing room near you: "Are you now or have you ever been a Socialist or member of the Socialist Party?" Sound familiar? "Socialist" has merely been substituted for "Communist," but all of the same techniques are in play. I may be overstating her importance, but Sarah Palin frightens me. With her cutesy little homilies that spew venom and lies like "death panels" for the elderly, she appears to be acquiring a substantial following. She is touting fear of socialism in the same way that Joe McCarthy used fear of communism to disparage his enemies and divide the country.

She received thunderous applause at the Tea Party Convention on the subject of national security and terrorism when she said: "We need a commander-in-chief not a professor of law. Treating this as a law enforcement matter places our country at great risk." This is ironic coming from the hypocrite-in-chief. The Bush administration treated the "shoe" bomber exactly the same as the Obama administration treated the "underwear" bomber. Unless the Constitution contains some apparel distinction, it is difficult to understand why the Obama administration is endangering the country, but the Bush administration did not.

The truth is (something for which she has no regard) that between 150 and 200 terrorists have been tried and convicted in federal courts following 9/11, mostly during the Bush Administration. The Justice Department had a choice whether to try these cases in military tribunals or civilian courts and chose the latter with a few exceptions. I ask Sarah Palin and her supporters to select of these two text book versions, which they would prefer being read by their grandchildren years from now:

This was our greatest moment. We gave constitutional rights even to those who tried to destroy us. We afforded them counsel and a fair trial.

or

This was our greatest moment. We detained suspected terrorists indefinitely without charges (many of whom were innocent), without lawyers, without a hearing, without the rights of family visitation. We tortured some and sent many to foreign venues where greater torture could be inflicted. We gave military trials to 3 of the more than 700 we imprisoned. Of those tried before military courts, two are free, one remains in prison. We broke the Guinness World Record for the number of times we waterboarded one suspect.

Since it is apparent that Sarah Palin seems to prefer the second version, we need a modern day Joseph Welch to come along and say to her: "Have you no sense of decency madam, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"