The Politics of Accusation

“I have here in my hand a list of 205 . . . a list of names that were made known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who nevertheless are still working and shaping policy in the State Department.” It wasn’t the first occasion where this senator had whipped up the specter of an enemy within, nor was he the first to try. But this time he grasped something earlier treason-shouters hadn’t: that counting and naming the actual traitors had a frontier justice allure. No matter that the paper he was clutching didn’t justify his numbers or fill in his list . . . When fellow lawmakers denounced his anti-Communist crusade as a hoax, and him as a charlatan, he brazenly doubled down in the broadsides. Abe Lincoln was surely turning somersaults in his tomb . . .

(btw, Abe Lincoln is surely turning somersaults AGAIN, poor man)

” . . . but Joe McCarthy had the issue he needed to snatch the limelight he craved.”

Demagogue: The Life and Long Shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy, p. 115

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