In a private letter written shortly
before his death last year, Washington attorney and New Deal architect Thomas G. (Tommy the
Cork) Corcoran said that Harry Truman banished him from the White House and that he was subjected to four years of wiretapping by the FBI for opposing a futile Democratic scheme to thwart Joseph McCarthy's bid for Congress.
Corcoran's charges were in a letter he wrote last August to Newsweek's retired chief congressional correspondent Samuel Shaffer in which Corcoran thanked Shaffer for sending him a copy of his memoir, On and Off the Floor.
"I've been interested in your stories about Lyndon--and God help me--Joe McCarthy," wrote Corcoran, who is given much credit for helping Franklin D. Roosevelt plan his New Deal. "It was because of Joe McCarthy (that) Truman broke with me and banished me from the White House."
The way Corcoran remembered it, Truman and then Democratic National Committee chairman Robert Hannegan pushed for Wisconsin Democrats to cross over and vote for McCarthy in the 1946 Republican Senate primary and thus oust liberal Republican incumbent Robert LaFollette, who had refused Hannegan's entreaty to become a Democrat. Truman and his cronies thought McCarthy would be a pushover in the general election. Corcoran, who was close to LaFollette, opposed Truman and Hannegan's plan. The plan blew up in the Democratic kingmakers' faces when McCarthy went on from victory in the Republican primary to a crushing defeat of Democrat Howard MacMurray in the general election.
"I reaped the reward of 'effrontery' by having the FBI tap me for nearly four years," Corcoran wrote to Shaffer. Noting Joe McCarthy's subsequent career as a demagogue, Corcoran wrote, "The real casualties were President Truman himself as well as my friend Bob LaFollette."
Footnote: In the same letter, Corcoran agreed with Shaffer's assessment of Lyndon Johnson as a "manic genius." Corcoran, who became a mentor to Johnson, added that while he "loved" LBJ, he was certain that if he ever went to work for him, Johnson wouldn't "love" him. Observed Corcoran: "He was a Greek tragedy and a godsend to the country--both."