I just read Erik Larson's remarkable book, "In the Garden of Beasts." Through contemporary letters and other sources, it chronicles the experiences of American Ambassador William Dodd and his family in Nazi Germany from 1933-1937, as Hitler tightened his grip on the German people.
While Dodd looked on helplessly, Hitler ruthlessly silenced all opposing political voices, passing laws forbidding opposition newspapers, for example, and imprisoning, torturing and killing those who spoke out against him.
Thankfully, Hitler and his hideous regime were crushed. Today in America we rejoice that our robust democracy thrives, opposition voices are always heard, and differing opinions considered.
Unless you are Republican Rep. Darrell Issa, that is.
After acknowledging his year-long, multi-million dollar, partisan "investigation" into the IRS had reached its predictable dead end, Issa hastily adjourned his House Oversight Committee hearing on March 5.
But Democratic committee member Rep. Elijay Cummings had an important question about Issa's management of the investigation: why did the chairman supply evidence to Fox News Sunday but refuse to give the same evidence to Cummings and the rest of the House committee after it was requested?
In a shocking scene reminiscent of the1934 Reichstag, Issa shut off Cummings' microphone, dismissed Republicans members and left the hearing. His mike turned off, Cummings expressed his outrage at Issa and the way he wiped his feed on the democratic process. You can watched the entire travesty here:
Thanks to a transcript of Cummings' remarks posted on-line, the following is what Issa didn't want Americans to hear:
"(When Issa appeared on Fox News Sunday he) claim(ed) that (IRS official Lois) Lerner was quote, at the center of this effort to, quote, target conservative groups. Although he provided a copy of his report to Fox. He refused my request to provide it to the members of the committee.
"He cannot support these claims," Cummings continued. "We have now interviewed 38 employees, who have all told us the same thing. That the White House did not direct this or even know about it at the time it was occurring. And none of the witnesses have provided any political motivation. The (IRS) Inspector General, Russell George, told us the same thing. He found no evidence of any White House involvement, or political motivation."
Like Hitler, political retribution and hiding his lies are more important to Issa than the truth. I'm sure if Issa had his way, the Gestapo would have picked up Cummings on his way home.
Millions of Americans have given their lives defending our democratic principles. We don't shut off microphones when when a duly elected representative of the American people wants answers or wishes to make a statement on behalf of his or her constituents.
Of all the low points for Republicans over the last five years - and there have been too many to count - this may be lowest.