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Wednesday, January 11, 2006

Ted Kennedy: The ghost of McCarthy past

Are you now or were you ever a member of the Concerned Alumni of Princeton? Are you now or were you ever a reader or subscriber of that group’s magazine, “Prospect?”

After watching today’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearings into Judge Samuel Alito’s nomination to the Supreme Court, you can almost hear the ghost of the infamous Sen. Joe McCarthy pursing communists during the Red Scare paranoia of the 1950s.

McCarthy’s anti-communist hunts destroyed careers, friendship and lives. Those who had the courage to oppose him are celebrated even today.

“I have here in my hand a list of the names of …,” the demagogic McCarthy frequently declared, proclaiming that he had uncovered commies in the Army, State Department and in the shadowy niches and crannies of Washington.

For the majority of Americans who weren’t around for those horrible times, you can’t fully appreciate his loathsome behavior. Simply reading “suspect” materials or having them in your home was sufficient reason to be investigated. Any connection, however slight, with the “wrong” people or groups was enough to put you on someone’s blacklist.

I was around for the Army-McCarthy hearings, which was the senator’s vehicle for ruining lives under cover of the law. In honesty, I cannot recall since then any performance that has come anywhere close to this outrage—until witnessing the nauseating behavior today of Sen. Ted Kennedy and his Democratic colleagues on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Not since the 1950s, have I witnessed such a vile use of “guilt by association” for political advantage.

In the words of Joseph Welch, the Army’s counsel, after McCarthy had destroyed his latest victim: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator.”

McCarthy tried to interrupt, determined to continue on his destructive path: “Let’s, let’s…”

Welch, in words that entered political history cut him off: “You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?”

No, Kennedy and his crew don’t.

1 comment:

Active Observer said...

This was an intellectually dishonest piece, and disappointing.

Imagine, if you will, that Alito had been a member of the American Communist Party, and had listed this affiliation on his resume. Would you now be running a piece entitled "Hatch: The ghost of McCarthy past" after the senator grilled the nominee about this past affiliation? I think not.

Alito came before this committee because he wants to be a Supreme Court justice, a position of enormous power that he would hold for life. Investigating his background is the committee's duty. Given that cases of discrimination would come up before him as a Supreme Court justice, his affliation with an organization that promoted discrimination seems well worth investigating.

There is a world of difference between asking a Supreme Court nominee about why he listed an affiliation on his resume as Kennedy has done, and actively seeking out and attempting to destroy citizens with affliations to a particular group as McCarthy did.

I'm curious if the difference escaped you because of your ideological lens, or if you're simply trying to discredit your ideological enemies by any means necessary.