The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

Never Forget: Joe McCarthy Was Right!

Posted on | February 24, 2013 | 55 Comments

Senator Joseph McCarthy, a courageous and patriotic American.

“Senator Cruz’s substantive point was absolutely correct: in the mid-1990s, the Harvard Law School faculty included numerous self-described proponents of ‘critical legal studies’ — a school of thought explicitly derived from Marxism – and they far outnumbered Republicans.”
Catherine Frazier, spokeswoman for Sen. Ted Cruz

Democrats and the major news media — but I repeat myself — have decided that Texas Sen. Ted Cruz’s opposition to the Chuck Hagel nomination makes him the “New McCarthy.”

And they say that like it’s a bad thing.

Sen. Joseph McCarthy has been unjustly and dishonestly maligned for so long that even many conservative Republicans nowadays use “McCarthyism” as a slur, without any real understanding of who the man was, or what he was trying to accomplish.

Intellectuals who today think of themselves as the rightful heirs of William F. Buckley Jr. often seem to forget that the second book Buckley wrote, after God and Man at Yale, was McCarthy and His Enemies, which Buckley co-authored with his brother-in-law Brent Bozell (father of Brent Bozell III, who is today head of the Media Research Center). Buckley knew, as do all honest and intelligent students of the Cold War era, that even if one stipulates McCarthy made mistakes and had unfortunate personality traits, he was really a better man than his vindictive critics, and certainly more sincerely patriotic than the Communist enemies he sought to expose.

To truly understand this history, it is necessary at the outset for any student to make two crucial distinctions:

  1. McCarthy vs. ‘McCarthyism’ — Propagandists of the Left, including journalists and academics, have made Joe McCarthy a symbol of things for which he was not even remotely responsible. Joe McCarthy did not create a “Red Scare.” Concerns about Communist penetration of the federal government, and about Soviet espionage, existed before anyone outside Wisconsin had ever heard of Joe McCarthy. He was not repsonsible for “blacklisting” anyone in Hollywood or getting Communist teachers fired from public schools. Investigations of Communist subversion undertaken by the FBI and the House Committee on Un-American Activities preceded Joe McCarthy’s arrival in the Senate and continued for years after McCarthy was dead and buried in a Wisconsin grave. However, by demonizing McCarthy, and making him a scarecrow symbol for alleged wrongs that he had nothing to do with, leftists have attached to McCarthy’s name a radioactive taint that makes it difficult for people to separate the complex Man from the simplistic Myth.
  2. Espionage vs. Subversion — This is arguably the greatest stumbling block to understanding the dangerous Soviet-backed conspiracy that Joe McCarthy sought to expose. Many people erroneously believe that McCarthy was hunting for “spies,” but this is a gross misconception, both of what the Communist Party (CPUSA) was about and of what McCarthy was investigating. As was clearly evident to investigators at the time, and as has since been documented by information from Soviet archives and from declassified U.S. government sources, the CPUSA was at all times an instrument of Soviet policy. This was especially so during the era of Stalin’s dictatorship, when deviation from the Party line could be quite literally fatal. Beyond the (very real) spying conducted by CPUSA members — including clandestine “underground” members — there were also American Communists who sought to influence U.S. policy in a pro-Soviet direction, at a time when Stalin’s reign of terror extended across Eastern Europe and when Communists were actively advocating a violent worldwide Marxist-Leninist revolution. It was the network of pro-Soviet influencers, as agents of subversion, that was the real target of McCarthy’s investigations.

Years ago, I interviewed M. Stanton Evans, author of the definitive biography, Blacklisted by History: The Untold Story of Senator Joe McCarthy and His Fight Against America’s Enemies. Evans is a man who knew Bill Buckley well, and who helped draft the famous “Sharon Statement” that was in effect the charter of the modern American conservative movement. No living person knows more about Joe McCarthy than does Stan Evans.

After listening to Evans describe his research, during our interview I pointed out the distinction between espionage and subversion and Evans’s eyes lit up with excitement: “Yes! Exactly! You get it!”

What McCarthy was trying to uncover was the mystery of how and why Soviet agents inside the U.S. government had gone undetected for so long. Once anyone begins to seek answers to that question — even today, more than two decades after the Evil Empire imploded under the weight of its own folly — certain conclusions quickly become obvious: There were people in government who did not want these secret Soviet agents exposed, people who saw no need for caution toward employing CPUSA members (or members of Communist-backed front groups) in key government positions.

The atmosphere of suspicion for which McCarthy is blamed was actually the fault of Communists themselves, and of their misguided liberal defenders who either failed to understand the danger or else were inspired by political or ideological motives to be (as it was commonly said) “soft on Communism.” And, in point of fact, it was the attitude of these liberals — derided in Cold War slang as “dupes,” or “pinkos,” or “Commie symps” — that did so much to anesthetize America, to foster the idea that Soviet aggression and domestic subversion were exaggerated dangers, thus creating a stuporous indifference that made this subversion possible.

Communists created suspicion by the intense secrecy of their underground agents, and their sympathizers or “dupes” heightened this suspicion by celebrating those who pleaded the Fifth Amendment in refusing to testify to Congress about their involvement with the CPUSA and the Party’s various front groups.

Keep in mind that the U.S. fought a bloody war against Communist aggression in Korea and that, with the aid of traitorous spies, the Soviets had obtained atomic secrets, so that America was locked in a deadly nuclear standoff with Stalin’s paranoid regime.

Under such circumstances, weren’t Americans entirely right to be outraged at seeing witnesses, who were charged with no crime, hide behind the Fifth Amendment and refuse to tell Congress about what they did and who they knew during their involvement with the Communist Party. And if responsible authorities had failed to investigate whether persons employed by the federal government were affiliated with the CPUSA — and they quite clearly had so failed — wasn’t it important to determine whether these security failures were the result of incompetence? Furthermore, isn’t it unfair to say that McCarthy, in trying to identify the persons responsible for these lapses, was engaged in mere demagoguery or pursuing an irrational “witch hunt”?

The witches were real!

There were indeed Communists who had infiltrated the federal government. And there was every reason to believe that the officials responsible for the lapses of security that had permitted this infiltration were engaged in a cover-up intended to prevent anyone from learning whether these lapses were mere incompetence or rather, as many suspected, something far more sinister.

Don’t lecture me about the “civil rights” of dishonest villains who were willing stooges of the murderous totalitarian Josef Stalin, and don’t tell me that the faults or errors of Joseph McCarthy made him worse than the Communists he sought to expose.

Ted Cruz’s critics now seem to be pursuing an inventory of the Harvard Law School faculty to determine whether Cruz exaggerated the ratio of Marxists to Republicans, as if this would discredit Cruz more than it does Harvard. Any patriotic American would say that if Harvard Law employed even one Marxist professor, that was one Marxist too many.

There may be some people who would say that patriotism and Marxism are not contradictory. Such people are fools — or worse.

And if anyone wants to compare Sen. Ted Cruz to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, I hope Senator Cruz will thank them for the compliment.



P.S.: Both Sen. Ted Cruz and M. Stanton Evans will be speaking at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), March 14-16. Every patriotic American can register to attend.



  • Bob Belvedere

    This may be the best short defense of Joe McCarthy I have ever read. Thanks, Stacy.

    It is imperative that the Truth get out because we face a similar situation today, with the only difference being: the subversives are being ‘run’ by an Ideology.

    SIDENOTE: I suspect that Saul Alinsky learned a great deal from watching the successes achieved by the anti-anti-Communists.

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  • Daria DiGiovanni

    My maternal grandfather, who arrived with his widowed mother from Italy at the age of eight, was a staunch McCarthy supporter and anti-communist. He graduated from Temple Pharmacy School in 1919 and went on to open his own corner pharmacy in their neighborhood. My mom used to share her stories of running home from school to watch the McCarthy trials, whom her father regarded as an American patriot and hero. Due to her father’s influence, my mom has always been a conservative activist, which is where I received my early political knowledge.

    Thank you Stacy for a great post, as I am sick of so-called conservatives jumping on the trash McCarthy bandwagon. He may not have been perfect (who among us is?) but his efforts on behalf of freedom are to be commended, not vilified. If only we had more Ted Cruz’s following McCarthy’s example in elected office.

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  • DaveO

    There’s the Little Red Church and the Red Diaper Babies, a number of whom are in the White House. Most interesting show on the TV today is “The Americans.” It gets the idea that Soviet and Maoist agents were/are in America and intend harm to American freedom.

    Senator Cruz could do America and the TEA Party a big favor by coordinating with FIRE, ACLJ and other organizations and use his floor time on the Senate to get the message out about the depth and breadth of Marxist-Maoist practices in academia.
    One man or woman, one voice, is a mouseturd. Many men and women, many voices, are a mountain range.

  • Shawny Lee

    Yes!!! And now, with 80+ elected representatives who are members of the Democratic Socialists Of America, yes Communists, a conflict of interest which should preclude them from even being allowed to take the oath of office to protect and defend the Constitution of the U.S. which they could not possibly intend to uphold. And now, with untold numbers of Muslims in high office and appointed positions, whose stated goal is overthrow our government to replace it with Islam and Shariah law, we continue to invite infiltration, subversion and destruction from within by advocates of different flavors of totalitarianism. Now, more than ever we need leadership which will expose and eradicate all those who are actively engaged in “fundamentally transforming” our constitutional republic into any damn thing else.

  • Shawny Lee
  • jsn2

    The left can’t afford to allow Cruz to become a popular national political figure like they could not allow Miguel Estrada to be a Republican Supreme Court nominee.

  • K-Bob

    Nice recounting, Stacy!

    BTW, here’s a link to the Sharon Statement, which is a very well-done effort, since it was brief, like the Constitution.

    This effort by Ted Cruz, and the furor it is raising is very important to recognize for its place in history—the history happening right now.

    For example, the Europeans are now fully cognizant of the damage they have done to themselves, and are starting to be quite vocal about it in many places where such speech was considered intolerable only two years ago. Have a look at this speech by Lars Hedegaard (Feb 21, 2013), which is notable for its place, and for the applause he received by the attendees.

    Ted Cruz might well be betting that NOW is the time to press this issue, and let the political chips fall where they may, because we are in such peril.

    We need this man. He fights.

  • Adjoran

    McCarthy was wrong about his “list of 200 names” of communist supporters in the State Department. He had no list, it was pure bluff.

    Of course, after the fall of the Soviet Empire, KGB files showed the actual number was several times higher, and those were just the ones the USSR was aware of, not including the passive sympathizers.

    Even today, if we were to hang every traitor in the State Department, there wouldn’t be many left besides the secretarial pool and the cleaning crews.

  • K-Bob

    A very salient point.

    OTOH, McCarthy had some issues that are, or ought to be, educational to any modern conservatives (don’t be a drunk, comes to mind). I hope modern conservatives learn to stand up to the left, but do it with exceptional resources, verified facts, and from a sense of statesmanship, rather than the scent of power. This last bit has ruined Republicans over the last few years.

    We need more John Adams types in this fight. Ted Cruz is starting to look like that, which is amazing to see.

  • K-Bob

    Crap, we’re gonna need a lot more rope.

  • wisbadger22

    A friend of mine, historian Thomas C. Reeves, wrote a thorough and fair biography on McCarthy (“The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy”). I profiled Reeves and the book for a university magazine I edited. The liberal faculty was in an uproar and wanted me fired for writing that McCarthy was not a monster. Plenty of fellow travelers in academia!

  • StrangernFiction

    Obama was looking forward to an imminent social revolution, literally a movement where the working classes would overthrow the ruling class and institute a kind of socialist Utopia in the United States.

  • Paratisi

    I love these stories. I just have to find my Galahger-Style plastic cover. Libs Heads Always Explode when They Hear This. Same with Swift Boating. Every time I tell Libs that, to the “Vast Majority” of the country, “Swift Boating” means telling the truth about a Lib… the empty shell where their Brain was supposed to be, flies everywhere!Getting that Goo off is not easy!

    God Bless America!

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Joe McCarthy was partially right (the anti communist part), but he was a bully and managed to screw up the mission and give sympathy to the other side. BTW, was Roy Cohn totally right too? McCarthy was not a martyr, he was a very flawed politician who should be looked at objectively.

  • MrPaulRevere

    David Horowitz came to the conclusion that McCarthy ended up hurting the cause of anti-communism and certainly he was flawed and had personal problems. But to paraphrase Rumsfeld, you go to war with the Senators you have. McCarthy’s work was absolutely essential and America is stronger because of it.

  • Shawny Lee

    LOL….hell yes, I’m there. Here’s a plan. We call the site Habitat for Hemp or HolyRope (hey, it works when the Progressives name it something catchy) and plaster a big PayPal button on it.

  • rmnixondeceased

    Yep. Joe was a very honorable and patriotic American who saw the incremental imposition of socialism.

  • Bob Belvedere

    You handled the Anti-Communism crusade with much more ability than Tailgunner Joe.

  • rmnixondeceased

    Rope is re-usable.

  • Bob Belvedere

    The key is not to associate with guys like Roy Cohn – ie: people who are committed to wielding power rather than to a noble cause. Tailgunner Joe was a good man, but not very bright in certain areas [oh, and he also was Irish Catholic, which is always a handicap].

  • Bob Belvedere

    Hear, hear!

  • rmnixondeceased

    Thank you Bob. So few really remember. Most high-schoolers today believe I started the Vietnam war and only I was responsible for it. Such revisionist tripe.

  • rmnixondeceased

    Statesmanship is almost as dead as I am …

  • Rob Crawford

    I submit that the cleaning crews and secretarial pool would better represent the United States to other nations.

  • Neo

    The daughter of Rep John Stephens Wood (chairman of the House Un-American Activities Committee 1949-1953) lives down the street from me.
    Interesting factoid: Rep. Wood appears (uncredited) in the John Wayne film “McLintock!”.

  • K-Bob


    It’s probably why Tom Coburn wants to get the heck out of there. Too many Roy Cohn types. I wish he’d stay on, but I can’t blame him for wanting out.

  • K-Bob

    Oooh, hemp! That will also bring in money from Libertarians. Good call.

  • K-Bob
  • smbren

    Well, if it means anything at all, I care for a man 86 yrs of age. A successful lawyer that built (government built) an established large law firm that employees 600 lawyers. He went to Harvard, and he told me directly the place was loaded with marxist professors. He is going to dig up some past paperwork for me to gander at!!!!If he lets me share, I will.

  • smbren

    Oops, I miss typed. He is 81 years of age, not 86.

  • disqus_8oBsTWyu3a

    of course he was correct. can you do like a sunday night music thing too? in addtion to rule5? out of tunes here.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    Actually, America was weaker for it. McCarthy hit a nerve at first and exposed how many commie stooges there were in Hollywood (but at the time they were still a minority). But he over played his hand and actually hurt the cause of freedom in the end. Because those bastards stayed and now they run the place.

  • MrPaulRevere

    I look at these type of issues with an ice cold eye, i.e. one is either an asset or a liability. In the fight against Soviet expansionism McCarthy was a clearly an asset despite his personal flaws. Whatever his vices they were outweighed by his virtues.

  • scarymatt

    Eh…you should read Evans’ book. The list began with a State Dept list (including a lot of FBI work) and grew from there. He wasn’t claiming an exhaustive list, of course.

    The “pure bluff” was coming from the people (like Tydings) who opposed McCarthy. He didn’t want to name names in public, but Tydings,, goaded him into doing just that by claiming that he didn’t really have a list, that the list was old news discredited and any other convenient lie.

    I suspect that DWS may have studied this campaign, as everything she says seems as coherent and credible as McCarthy’s contemporary detractors.

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  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    He was an asset…until he wasn’t. That we have to defend McCarthy so many decades later is the point…we shouldn’t have to be doing that.

  • Bob Belvedere

    But the main reason we still have to speak up for Sen. McCarthy is because we let the Left write the Narrative about him.

  • Dai Alanye

    Let’s remember something else–as with Cruz, many of the establishment (East Coast) Republicans then failed to defend McCarthy, letting joseph Welch, among others, distort and slur almost at will

    And we still have a wimp problem

  • Quartermaster

    McCarthy simply didn’t know when to quit. many of us cold warriors are of the opinion that is he had stopped early, especially after he corralled Hiss, it would have been great.

    His speech on George Marshall was telling and is a classic in showing the role of useful idiots. The left raged and raved about it, but Marshall’s behavior in China in ’49 was inexcusable and cost the country enormously. I refuse to visit the museum at VMI because he has such a prominent place in it. Marshall so bemsirched himself by that his entire record is eclipsed by that piece of idiocy.

  • Quartermaster

    Persactly! Spaghetti Spines of the GOP have been doing it for years. They just want the power and dough that comes with it.

  • K-Bob

    These guys getting into congress and then worrying about re-election drives me crazy. The Dems don’t care. Look at that sh*theel Grayson, in Florida.

    One thing I’d love to see is bloggers ignoring Miss Lindsey Graham and Captain Queeg, and all of those other Prograssives with (R) after their name, and only talk to the guys like Cruz, Paul, Steve King, Trey Gowdy, and so on. We have enough of them in congress now to simply act like they are in charge.

    Because we say so.

  • Evi L. Bloggerlady

    But that is exactly the point, McCarthy went from an asset on Soviet expansion to a liability. My point is not to vilify McCarthy (I could think of far worse villians on the left such as the traitor father of Al Gore), but to caution against missing the lesson of hubris.