In a brave act of bipartisanism, Senator John McCain came to the defense of Huma Abedin, a top aide to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, whom certain members of congress have charged with serious accusations.
Senator McCain remarked on the Senate floor, “Recently, it has been alleged that Huma, a Muslim American, is part of a nefarious conspiracy to harm the United States by unduly influencing U.S. foreign policy at the Department of State in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist causes.” Speaking in a straightforward manner, Senator McCain went on to rebuff those allegations; “the report from which they are drawn, are nothing less than an unwarranted and unfounded attack on an honorable woman, a dedicated American, and a loyal public servant.”

These accusations contrast squarely with legitimate congressional investigations into the State Department, such as the case against Alger Hiss, which was headed by then Congressman Richard Nixon. Nixon’s pursuit of Hiss was a genuine attempt to secure America against the threat of communist espionage; it was conducted professionally and in conjunction with the FBI, not through an open letter to the inspectors general of Homeland Security, State and Justice, which only has the effect of riling a fearful political base.

For a congressman to attach their name to the accusations against Huma Abedin is a political play which does nothing to promote the safety of America or the national political discourse. As Senator McCain pointed out, “When anyone, not least a member of Congress, launches specious and degrading attacks against fellow Americans on the basis of nothing more than fear of who they are and ignorance of what they stand for, it defames the spirit of our nation, and we all grow poorer because of it.”

President Nixon recognized the problem this type of political tactic presented to America and he critiqued it in his first inaugural address.

“In these difficult years, America has suffered from a fever of words; from inflated rhetoric that promises more than it can deliver; from angry rhetoric that fans discontents into hatreds; from bombastic rhetoric that postures instead of persuading.”

The ‘fever of words’ is still present when individuals from either side of the aisle place their personal political aspirations above the country’s need for a rational political discourse.

President Nixon, who recognized the need for an honest political dialogue, stated, “We cannot learn from one another until we stop shouting at one another—until we speak quietly enough so that our words can be heard as well as our voices.”

Ian Delzer is a Research Assistant at the Richard Nixon Foundation.