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Thu Sep 10, 2020, 08:51 AM

A new McCarthyism finds a champion in Donald Trump

By Larry Tye

Joseph McCarthy’s name long ago became an “ism”— a synonym for reckless accusation, fear-mongering and the obliteration of one’s opponents by any means necessary. With the presidential election less than two months away, we’re seeing Donald Trump take up those tactics.

By now, probably every American has heard the charge that President Trump has denigrated fallen American soldiers as “losers” and “suckers.” What people may not know is that McCarthy, the Red-baiting senator from Wisconsin, did something strikingly similar 70 years ago — inexplicably putting the U.S. military in his cross-hairs. While he had gotten away with baselessly accusing the State Department, the Voice of America and other federal agencies of sheltering communists, the Army proved it was too big to bully.

McCarthy’s wartime diaries show that he hated the military command going back to his World War II days as a tail gunner in the South Pacific. He resented officers’ supposed sugarcoating of Allied wins and enemy losses, writing, “Who the hell do those mental midgets think they’re fooling & why?” Most irritating to him were the inter-service rivalries: “Sometimes wonder if we are fighting the same war as the Navy & Army.”

Later, as a senator, McCarthy placed several Army generals who were venerated by the public — from George Marshall, orchestrator of the Allied victory, to Telford Taylor, head of American code breakers at England’s Bletchley Park — at the center of what he claimed was a vast Communist conspiracy inside the federal government. McCarthy’s manufactured rage reached a flash point in the fall of 1953 when he charged that Ft. Monmouth in New Jersey was filled with Commie moles. For good measure, he belittled Eisenhower, the war hero president, as a Johnny-come-lately to the Cold War.


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