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Is Senator Warren channeling Joe McCarthy?

February 16, 2017

Is the Stop Trump movement ushering in the new McCarthy era?

To his enemies, Donald Trump is Lucifer, Stalin, Krushchev, Aldrich Ames and the Boston Strangler all rolled into one super villain. As proof of his villainy, they point to the Executive Order that initiated the still contested “travel ban.”

In response the left has suddenly begun channeling Joseph McCarthy (not to be confused with the 1968 Presidential candidate, Eugene McCarthy) through politicians like Elizabeth Warren.

The hysteria over anything and everything Trump seems to have set up one of those déjà vu moments in history. This one goes back to the 1940’s and the infamous McCarthyism  era of the 1950’s.

The original trigger event that allowed Senator McCarthy to champion the movement that eventually bore his name was also triggered by an Executive Order, signed by then President Harry Truman.

EO 9835, which President Truman signed on March 21, 1947 was intended to require government employees to sign a loyalty oath, as well as giving the government a legal reason to investigate the reach and influence of various Communist front organizations, some of which actually existed.

The order was created in the very recent aftermath of the Second World War,  in response to what Truman saw as a rapidly increasing threat from Russia.

McCarthy seized on the so-called “Second Red Scare” and used it while campaigning for a Wisconsin U.S. Senate seat in 1950. Although he did  prevail in the election, his success was short lived.

However short his influence was, it too was marked by the use of government agencies, most notably J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI and the IRS,  to target suspect Red sympathizers, effectively weaponizing supposedly apolitical government institutions for political purposes.

The fallout after Hoover’s death left a lasting stain on the reputations of those agencies, with the FBI and the Justice Department discredited as impartial law enforcement agencies right up to the present day.

The strident rants of the left branding President Trump and anyone who supports him  a fascist, a Nazi and worse bear an uncanny resemblance to McCarthy’s references to “Commie bastards” and the “Red threat” in his day.

A cautionary note for the left would be that the flip side of his success was that he was censured by the Senate for his actions and ultimately discredited as a crackpot. To this day, his name is synonymous with politically motivated witch hunts.

There is also a danger in drawing the McCarthy-Warren comparison, in that it is all too easy to just assume that like McCarthy, the left will simply self-destruct.

That fails to note the differences in the information systems of 1950 and 2017.

In 1950, TV was still a novelty, and most people got their news from the radio or the newspapers. They sat around in bars, living rooms and barbershops and chewed on the information until they got the full flavor of it.

Today of course they can view the news as it is happening, leaving precious little time for considered reflection and meaningful vetting of often incomplete snapshots in time and stage managed “spontaneous” events.

That makes it a lot harder to react rationally to irrational claims from the left or look behind the scenes to dissect the body of the Stop Trump movement. Instead of dueling newspapers, you have dueling tweets.

Still, you have to wonder if there isn’t a little Joe sitting on the shoulder of the Senator from Massachusetts, waving a little red flag that says Go Team.


From → op-ed

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