Nancy Pelosi’s New Adventures in McCarthyism

Over the weekend, noting the ongoing opposition to the far-right Israeli regime’s war on the civilians of Gaza, former House Speaker Nancy Pelosi charged that:

…For them to call for a cease-fire is Putins message, Mr. Putins message. Make no mistake, this is directly connected to what he would like to see. Same thing with Ukraine. Its about Putins message. I think some of these protesters are spontaneous and organic and sincere. Some, I think, are connected to Russia. … I dont think theyre plants. I think some financing should be investigated. And I want to ask the FBI to investigate that.”

Got that? If you don’t approve of a cause to which thousands upon thousands of Americans have rallied over the past 3 months (including, Pelosi might be surprised to discover, thousands of American Jews) then, call the FBI.

The first thing to note is that Pelosi has been on the scene for far too long. As the editor Julius Krein has perceptively noted,

…America in its present state of decline increasingly resembles the late Soviet Union, but one of the most unsettling parallels is its unmistakable slide into gerontocracy…perhaps the pharma lobby is so successful because it is not only the biggest donor but probably the largest vendor to the assisted living facility that is Congress.”

Yet Pelosi’s new adventures in McCarthyism are not really all that new – indeed this latest smear is part of a years-long effort by Democratic politicians, federal law enforcement and their handmaidens in the media to marginalize, stigmatize and ultimately criminalize dissent.

The transformation of the Democratic Party to what it is today began slowly, almost imperceptibly, during the second Obama term when, having abandoned its opposition to Bush and Cheney’s ill-starred adventure in Mesopotamia, liberals began to rediscover the charms of war.

It was only a short step from there to the age of Russiagate during which Donald Trump’s facile and at times ill-considered campaign rhetoric was weaponized against him via a wholly unfounded effort spearheaded by the DNC; the law firm Perkins Coie; the smear merchants at Fusion GPS; along with then-current and former members of the US Justice Department and FBI which embarked upon a grotesque charade that lasted almost the entirety of Trump’s term in office.

It was during those years that Democrats, with all the alacrity and efficiency of Bolshevik firing squads, turned their attention to dissidents within their ranks. No dissenter from the orthodoxy was to escape with their careers or reputations intact.

To recall just one of many examples: In October 2019, as she was running for the Democratic nomination for president, US congresswoman and combat veteran Tulsi Gabbard was accused by former US secretary of state Hillary Clinton of being a Russian asset. In an interview with former Obama hatchet-man David Plouffe, Clinton accused the Russians of “grooming” Gabbard. Said Clinton, “She’s the favorite of the Russians. They have a bunch of sites and bots and other ways of supporting her so far.”

Clinton’s spokesman later said that Clinton’s was “not some outlandish claim… this is reality.” What’s for sure is that it’s their reality.

In the end, Pelosi’s comments should be treated as an admission, as a statement of intent. They are just further proof (as if more was needed) that it is the Democrats who pose an authoritarian risk to this country that in many ways exceeds that which is often said to be posed by the Republican standard-bearer.

James W. Carden is a columnist and former adviser to the US-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission at the U.S. Department of State. His articles and essays have appeared in a wide variety of publications including The Nation, The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, The Spectator, UnHerd, The National Interest, Quartz, The Los Angeles Times, and American Affairs.