Johnson’s transcripts of McCarthy’s hearings are interesting, though not new. They are based solidly on public records, as well as his own vivid memory of those events and the Nixon administration. There is nothing to praise in McCarthy’s methods, and ultimately the Senate condemned them; he died of the effects of his excessive drinking, alone and unloved. Yet Johnson is persuaded that many still admire McCarthy.
Johnson says that the situation in America today is even worse than it was then. The Republican Party rose to power, he says, by combining the worst aspects of the Dixiecrats with McCarthyism, then exploiting the anti-communism theme (today terrorism) against Democrats, university professors, minorities and other vulnerable groups. Republicans caused the cultural wars, threaten civil liberties, start wars, disregard the law… Well, you get the idea.
He cites rhetoric in the 2004 campaign – "Commie Kerry" and "Hanoi John" – as though these came from prominent speeches rather than blogs. Character attacks, he says, were more significant than issues, and he implies these were used only by Republicans.
At one point he pulled back, to say that today’s excesses are not worse than in McCarthy’s day, but by the end of that same paragraph he stated that the dangers are just as great or worse. How this is puzzles me.
There is more, and even better. Please read it.