DEMAGOGUE: The Life and Long Shadow of Sen. Joe McCarthy, pp. 126 – 127

The chapter self is reading deals with McCarthyism and the rise of Huey Long in Louisiana (self is seriously considering not watching any news from now till November. All she has to do is read this book; it will tell her all she needs to know):

All professed to be men or women of the people, and each used flattery, manipulation, and enchantment to attain his or her disguised ends. None felt bound by constitutions, social norms, or any other rule. They understood, as a matter of instinct in service of ambition, just how effective it was to sow divisions in the population. Who the straw man was didn’t matter. It could set white versus black, gentile against Jew, poor opposing rich. Lies, bombast, and fearmongering were just the tactics. The underlying strategy was us against them.

To understand Mitch McConnell, one need only read the section on Huey Long (a Democrat, it turns out. Shockingly):

This champion of the little man and defier of the new industrial order emerged from the hill country of Louisiana to bewitch and bedevil wide swaths of the nation. As governor, the Democrat smashed his Democratic as well as Republican opponents, amassed dictator-like powers, delivered unheard-of public benefits to one of America’s poorest states, and inspired Robert Penn Warren’s Pulitzer-prizewinning novel and its movie adaptation, both titled All the King’s Men.

In Huey Long’s own words:

“I’d much rather get up before the legislature and say, ‘Now this is a good law; it’s for the benefit of the people, and I’d like you to vote for it in the interest of public welfare.” Only I know that laws ain’t made that way: You’ve got to fight fire with fire.” His game plan was simple: “Always take the offensive. The defensive ain’t worth a damn.” As for the charge that he was a tyrant, he protested: “A man is not a dictator when he is given a commission from the people and carries it out.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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Iain Kelly

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