From the moment that Wisconsin Senator Joe McCarthy began his smear campaign in February 1950 up until his censure by the U.S. Senate in 1954. The story of McCarthy was not just the story of indecency, and lies, and law breaking. It was also the story about just how much Republican lawmakers were willing to take. After all, many of them knew that what McCarthy was doing wasn’t just wrong, it was corrupting the nation, but they were afraid of him turning his sights on them. They feared the wrath of his political power. You know, when you go back and read about that period, what really stands out is how much McCarthy’s contemporaries are judged today by how they handled him. Senator Margaret Chase Smith, Republican of Maine, a hero of the current Senator Susan Collins of Maine, had a long trailblazing career but her obituary in “The Washington Post” referred to her moment standing up to McCarthy, her Declaration of Conscience in 1950 as her finest moments in politics.Conversely stands the example of Ohio Senator Bob Taft, the Senate majority leader who knew better. He ones called McCarthy reckless and McCarthy’s charges bunked, but Taft essential ended up casting his lot in with the smear artist from Wisconsin. . . .There are empirical wrongs in the world. Smearing innocent people is one of them. Using your political office to force foreign nations to dig up dirt on your political opponents is another one. That is not what foreign policy is for. You know this. I know this. And I would bet that most Republicans on Capitol Hill know this. They would do well to remember the lessons of Senators Smith and Taft, because history will one day come looking for them, too. She will want to know what they said and did during this time. She will likely not be in a forgiving mood.
October 7, 2019 at 11:15 AM EDT