By Peter Roff, Thomas Jefferson Street blog
When Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell tapped businessman Fred Malek to lead a panel to study the state’s over-spending problem, fiscally minded conservatives cheered. A tough man with a record of considerable success in the private sector, Malek seemed like just the guy to lead the discussion of where to swing the budget ax in Richmond to balance the books without raising taxes or cutting too deeply into politically popular programs.
The Washington Post, which is something of a house organ for the Democratic Party, used Malek’s appointment as an excuse to reach back 40 years and revisit his time as a mid-level aide in the Nixon White House when he made, as he himself has for some time admitted, an error in judgment.
In a story that appeared Thursday the Post allowed national Democrats to charge that “documents recently posted on the National Archives Web site ‘raise new questions about Mr. Malek's involvement in targeting and removing Jews from their jobs.’”
Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee executive director Jon Vogel, the man making the charge, has strayed from his assigned lane, given that who leads Virginia budget commissions has little to do with his assigned task of keeping California Rep. Nancy Pelosi in the speaker’s chair come January 2011.
In fact what Vogel and others are doing is trying to resurrect a 40 year controversy in a shameful effort to damage Malek’s credibility since he is also chairman of the American Action Network, an organization they claim “has pledged to spend $25 million this year targeting Democratic members of Congress.”
It would be one thing if Malek had never apologized for his involvement in a scheme the Post describes as “Nixon's crusade against Jews” working in the federal government. But he has, repeatedly. Speaking on his behalf, spokesman Mark Corallo told the Post, “He has made mistakes in his life for which he has apologized, atoned and learned from.”
Malek has his defenders. The Post quotes the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman as saying, “’I am pleased to call Fred Malek my friend,’ and that except for his experience compiling a list of Jews for Nixon, ‘he has no record of being anti-Jewish.’" And, as the paper points out, “Malek has donated money to the America-Israel Friendship League, and currently sits on its board.”
The whole thing could easily be dismissed as a tempest in a teapot except that a man’s reputation--a good man’s reputation--is at stake. The Post calls the matter “a controversy” but only because it has chosen to label it as such. More than anything else it is an example of the ugliest side of politics. The Democrats should apologize for trying to make something more out of a 40-year-old incident than fairness and common decency warrant.