.. communism and subsequent branding of people as traitors or communists in order to gain the spotlight. McCarthy was famous for bringing up the “the communist issue.” It was the 1950s and the U.S. was looking at a cold war with communist Russia. It was in this atmosphere that McCarthy was able to flourish.
He constantly attacked his opponents and accused them of being “communists” and having “a direct line to the Kremlin.” McCarthy was very critical of liberals and Democrats in general labeling them as having a “communist inclination.” When performing cross-examinations of witnesses he would attack the prosecuting attorneys with information his clerks dug up if he were ever antagonized. McCarthy used slander to his advantage at every opportune time and other Senators who got in his way were eliminated from the picture, which was the case with Senators Benton and Tobey, which McCarthy trampled on early in his career. Democrats were afraid to confront McCarthy because of his strong support by other Republicans, and even Republican President Eisenhower was quoted as saying, ” I refuse to step into a gutter fight with that man.” McCarthy also used all out lies and arm pulling of the truth to gain power. After McCarthy gave his first famous speech in Wheeling, West Virginia. In this speech he claimed the he had a list of 205 members of the Communist Party who were working in the State Department. The List, which he had received, was over ten years old and the FBI cleared most of the people on the list of all charges. In actuality the list was only 57 names long and McCarthy drastically fabricated the actual content of the Lee List. Take for example Lee case no.
40 and McCarthy case no. 36 that were later discovered to be the same case. “Lee case no. 36: This employee is with the Office of Information and Educational Exchange in New York City. His application is very sketchy. There has been no investigation.
(C-8) is a reference. Though he is 43 years of age, his file reflects no history prior to June 1941 McCarthy case no. 36 This individual is 43 years of age. He is with the Office of Information and Education. According to the file, he is a known Communist. I might say that when I refer to someone as being a known Communist, I am not evaluating the information myself.
I am merely giving what is in the file. This individual also found his way into the Voice of America broadcast. Apparently the easiest way to get in is to be a Communist.” McCarthys cases were all out fraudulent. The Democrats under the Tydings Committee tried to investigate McCarthys charges but partisan politics got in the way and McCarthy was able to worm his way out of confrontation by the help of a strong Republican Congress and a fear of McCarthy. McCarthy continued to look for communists in government till the end of his power and ultimate censure. McCarthy would follow up on the slightest hint of left wing involvement in government. McCarthys strategy became known throughout the world as McCarthyism, which is short for “communism in-government.” McCarthy said this about his ideology, “it means fighting communism; it means getting tough with the subversives in Government and outside, and with those who for any reason seek to protect them to escape the consequences of their own negligence or worse. Thats what McCarthyism means.” McCarthy would sometimes charge more than one issue at a time so that his democratic opponents still dazed from his previous accusations would be caught off their feet when he accused another organization of “harboring communists.” “From the very outset McCarthy had the backing of a small but strategically located group of conservative Republicans to whom the Communist issue had long been important.
The one thing that made McCarthy so powerful was his strong support from other conservatives. Fear of a conservative backlash kept Democrats hiding in the shadows and allowed McCarthy to run wild through the Senate. The only way people thought that McCarthy would be stopped is if he destroyed himself. McCarthy would sooner or later attack something to big, or the people would just get tired of him. Both of these eventually happened.
McCarthys opponents most often than not were destroyed verbally or at the election booths across the country. “This man, terribly dangerous in the eyes of sophisticated observers of American politics, had obtained the backing of millions of American people.” But in early 1954 the opinion of what McCarthy was doing began to change. People were becoming tired of the same old thing so McCarthy would push harder and make more audacious attacks which would offend more and more people. In 1954 McCarthy went after the largest military branch at the time in our nation, the army, looking for communists. McCarthy attacked the army with trumped up charges and used circumstantial evidence to support his findings. The Republicans were under increasing pressure to withdraw support for McCarthy by the president and they were also losing votes at home.
Republicans urged McCarthy to stop and on May 26, 1954 a motion was passed to end the hearings and drop all charges. This was the last straw for many moderate supporters of McCarthy and the tide was turning against him. On July 30, 1954 with the help of Ex-senator Benton, The Watkins Committee, and the Clearing-House Organization, McCarthy was finally censured by a vote of 67-22. “Theyre shooting at me from the other end of the Avenue” was McCarthys reply to the censure. Afterwards McCarthy was given the silent treatment and was simply ignored for the rest of his term.
McCarthys quest for power ultimately destroyed him. McCarthy is a good example of what can go wrong if people put aside the rules and seek only publicity and power. The censure ultimately destroyed McCarthy because not soon afterward he died in obscurity. McCarthy was full of self-contempt, insecurity, and self-doubt, which eventually created the person history recognized. His tactics of slander, lying, and liable lead to a witch-hunt which lasted for five years.
With strong backing from a Republican President and Congress, Joseph R. McCarthy was able hold the Senate hostage as he madly grasped for power. Bibliography James Rorty & Moshe Decter, McCarthy and the Communists, The Beacon Press, Boston, 1954 Robert Griffith, The Polotics of Fear: Joseph R. McCarthy and the Senate, The University Press of Kentucky, Lexington, 1970 Anderson & May, McCarthy the Man the Senator the “ism”, The Beacon Press, Boston, 1952 Michael Paul Rogin, The Intellectuals and McCarthy the Radical Specter, The MIT Press, Boston, 1967 Buckley Jr. & Bozell, McCarthy and His Enemies, Arlington House, New Rochelle, 1970.