The story goes that after New Times magazine labeled Virginia Sen. William L. Scott the country's "dumbest" congressman in 1974, he confirmed this judgment by calling a press conference to deny it. Is Rep. Joe Sestak in the same league?
After one of Pat Toomey's ads accused Sestak of voting "100 percent" with Nancy Pelosi, Sestak howled that this was a lie. He voted with her 97 percent of the time. Hmmm.
Sestak displayed the same unwise litigiousness after a group called the Emergency Committee for Israel ran ads calling attention to his poor record on support for Israel. Sestak's lawyers contacted Comcast and insisted that the ads be pulled. In so doing, he has invited closer examination of his record.
It is false and "offensive," Sestak's lawyer argues, to say that the congressman "raised money for an anti-Israel organization that the FBI labeled a 'front group for Hamas.'" Oh, did Sestak not deliver the keynote address at a fundraiser for the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR)? Well, yes, he did, admits the lawyer, "but during a portion of the event explicitly free of fundraising." Please. People paid $50 to attend the banquet and hear a speech by Congressman Joe Sestak. That he didn't personally solicit funds is quite irrelevant.
Sestak certainly had notice, before agreeing to deliver the speech, that CAIR was a problematic group. In 2007, the founders of the Holy Land Foundation were indicted for funneling money to terrorist organizations including Hamas. (They received life sentences in 2009.) CAIR was named as an unindicted co-conspirator.
Repeatedly, over the course of two decades, CAIR has justified terror, condemned Israel, and declined to denounce suicide bombings and other attacks on civilians. Mustafa Carroll of the Dallas chapter of CAIR stressed in 2007 that "the root cause of terrorism is oppression."
Sestak might have consulted with Sen. Barbara Boxer, a fellow liberal Democrat, who rescinded an award to an Islamic activist in California after learning of his association with CAIR. Several former CAIR officials have been deported or indicted on terror-related charges.
Sestak himself said, in an interview with the Exponent, a Philadelphia Jewish weekly, that "I don't just speak to groups that I support ... I think that is the job of a congressman in order to have a dialogue. And I went to CAIR and I criticized their failure to condemn terrorists by name, Hezbollah and Hamas, and the fact that they had not dissociated themselves."