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The Life and Times of Joe McCarthy: A Biography Paperback – January 1, 1982
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This excitingly readable biography will be remembered...a complete page-turner. (Publishers Weekly) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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The information presented comes mostly from newspapers from that era. This is necessary because the McCarthy papers have been sequestered and suppressed. Writer Reeves is as noble as McCarthy was ignoble. That pretty much sums it up.
After reading these two biographies, I wanted to get a glimpse at McCarthy's "side" and thus bought this book. The surprise is that even after reading "his" side you don't feel any better for the man. It is difficult to find any other person in the 20th century history of the USA that created so much division, generated so much hatred, ruined so many lives and careers, diverted so much attention from the real issues and thus ironically, at the end of the day probably helped more the cause of communism than even Stalin. "Were the junior senator from Wisconsin in the pay of the Communists, he could not have done a better job for them."
The terror he created in the USA was comparable to that of any dictator (even Eisenhower was afraid of him and did his best to prevent an open confrontation: "I won't get into a pissing contest with that skunk"). "It seemed that the Eisenhower administration would never summon the courage to stand up to the powerful Wisconsin senator".
In the middle of this fear, unwillingness to take action and even cowardice, there was at least one extremely brave man that committed himself to defeating McCarthy: Senator William Benton. He confided to a magazine editor that many of the professional politicians "think I am making a mistake in terms of my own political future; but I can only reply that I would rather be right than be a senator." If only Eisenhower had had half the guts of Benton history would have been much different, for the better.
The other person well worth mentioning is Jean Fraser Kerr, McCarthy's wife. She seems to have been an exceptional woman: very intelligent (more so than McCarthy), completely loyal to her husband, very hard working, etc. Her "first love" was politics and she contributed greatly to McCarthys career (first as his assistant and then as his wife).
Something that came as a surprise to me was that McCarthy was a very good friend of the Kennedy's and he even hired Robert Kennedy to his staff. What is more, Joseph Kennedy (JFK father) contributed thousands of dollars to McCarthy's political career. "After Wheeling, Joseph P. Kennedy was to become one of McCarthy's most loyal defenders and financial supporters, and the senator would give Bobby Kennedy his first job."
All the destruction, hatred, and enemies he created were finally too much and his political career was finally destroyed. On the personal level he had a wonderful wife and a new baby daughter (Tierney) but he technically committed suicide because his life was politics and here he had lost it all. (His doctor had told him "one more glass of alcohol and you die." He kept drinking heavily).
His epitaph should probably have been: "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last?"
Was Joe chasing ghosts? From the book..." It is clear that communists entered the federal government throughout the New Deal. That they were involved in procuring secret documents is undeniable." And later..."Hoover...contended that the U.S. contained about 540,000 communists... McCarthy was facing a real enemy and his cause was not for ego. He really believed the threat had to be stopped, and he was the man to do it. Now that the threat had been identified, how does one face that threat? For McCarthy it meant exposing them, and then rooting them out of the public arena. Pres. Eisenhower has his own ideas. He believes it should be handled by the Executive branch. He couldn't be that naive. To think that he alone, or his administration was going to investigate huge bureaucracies and root out cronies and override positions of authority and "clean house" is absurd! I'm also tired of hearing him being quoted for commenting on the "Military Industry Complex". Mr. President; you had your chance when you were in office and you didn't do anything about it. Not to get side tracked, but if you look at the stalemate (that was Korea) under his watch, his coldness when speaking after the JFK assassination, and then sitting down for a television interview and putting a positive spin on the Vietnam war during a televised interview. This includes prohibiting testimony during the McCarthy/Army hearings. Who is this guy? I will take a Joe McCarthy any day!
Sen. McCarthy knew the only road to take was to have hearings and get these people to talk. Keep in mind he was up against very powerful organizations. Very powerful people. The media, the CIA, the Army, the United Nations, the State Department, etc. In order to combat McCarthy's probe, he had to be discredited or eliminated. This is where the smear campaign begins. From the book:
1..."the Capital Times and the Milwaukee Journal launched another probe into McCarthy's tax returns." Are these normal duties for journalists?
2. "A spy planted by Drew Pearson in the Senator's office for four months in early 1951"...McCarthy clearly was chasing ghosts, right?
3. A 431 page book by Jack Anderson and Ronald May..."...every chapter contained factual errors, slanted interpretations, partisan conclusions, and even occasional fiction." No smearing campaign happening here.
4. Creation of a Clearing House. "...operated out of the offices of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee". Oh, and what was its purpose? "...to provide information to senators, newsmen, businessmen, church leaders, and others about the menace McCarthy..."
I personally am thankful for a man like McCarthy. He was tenacious, hard-working, intelligent, intrepid, tough, indeed; a man's man. If men like him do not start appearing on the American political scene soon, then rest assured, this country is without hope. For the battle that he fought in the 50's is the same battle that needs to be fought today.
We cannot blind our eyes to the fact that we are engaged in a showdown fight...a final, all-out battle between communist atheism and Christian democracy. The chips are almost down today. You can hear and feel the rumblings of another war.--------Joe McCarthy