This is an old subject I know but still ideologically relevant. Was Richard Nixon the intellectual (a view by some) and Joe McCarthy a slightly thought of crazy man used by people like Nixon for their own political gains at the time.
Nixon was considered by those who knew him as an intellectual a real politician who understood the people. It certainly would have been easier to let someone else rave on about communism whilst having similiar views but wishing to play the political game, both ways to some point, and not to be thought of as the crazy man. Which until his Watergate fiasco left him looking very unsteady wasn’t true
Joe McCarthy according to some who knew him say had warmth and was not a total “monster’, another opinion once again we can only read such info. Certainly those who faced his committees wouldn’t have warmed to him.
There are those that say he alerted the US public to the communist threat and saved the US from communism. Maybe that is so but the way he went about it, his side show, the committees, the subpoenas put the fear of life into people and ruined many lives especially those in the artistic world.
J Edgar Hoover and Joe McCarthy became useful to each other. Hoover, another man out to put an end to communism may have passed information on to McCarthy.
J Edgar Hoover FBI Boss himself a strong anti communist.
The committees were in some disarray with the investigators experience being questioned, the feeling and opinion of those at the time was that McCarthy was involved in a hatchet job.
Was McCarthy partly finding communism as an agenda he could fly with? A way to grasp the public and entrench himself into a strong position within US politics?
McCarthy (and possibly Nixon) promoted the Democrats as liberal communists and basically traitors to the US. You have to remember the times and communism was perceived as a threat, and quite possibly it could have eventually been a real threat. There were people convinced that the communists would take over the country. Many people also still had an idealised view of communism, once the world learned of Stalin’s purges even the most loyal communist sympathiser was having second thoughts. Once you knew of Stalins real activities communism wasn’t such a great idea. Hindsight is a wonderful thing it is said.
How McCarthy went about his task however has always been at question. The ruining of lives with little proof sounds today almost fascist. This ironically was how the Soviet Union would decide to view the US, either genuinely or at the very least to their people, as a fascist state on the rise. What politician from any political system really tells their citizens the full story. There are times when it is not of value to the state to inform the populace of certain actions however this idea can also be used against the citizens. Under communism it increasingly was.
Did McCarthy do what he did to gain power? or did he absolutely believe in what he said?
Joe McCarthy heading one of his committee’s
Was communism such a threat that Nixon used McCarthy to get the point across without having to do the awkward work himself? It is wise to remember Nixon was the vice president of the US from January 20, 1953 – January 20, 1961. He was a powerful man. I know we all remember Richard Nixon as the president who resigned because of the Watergate scandal. The McCarthy era was all years before and Richard Nixon had had a full and strong political life before Watergate, he had always been a powerful and clever politician.
As it turned out Eisenhower didn’t exactly have a great liking for McCarthy and subsequently moves were put in place (eventually effective) to undermine McCarthy. Another Story ( “Army / McCarthy trap” where McCarthy was questioned etc as to exactly how many communists were infiltrating is an interesting one). One to look at if interested.
In the end what McCarthy was doing (the committees, the honing in on artistic individuals who McCarthy felt had communist leanings, it goes on) was, as I mentioned earlier, considered a hatchet job by many. Eisenhower considered that McCarthy had become an actual danger to US democracy. In democracy it is important to have two sides, a third appears now and again and is quickly dispensed with by the two major parties or allowed to poke around in a hopeless fashion but eventually the will of the two wins out, the third party disappears. It’s the way it is and important for democracy, well ours anyways. It puts pressure on the two main parties to perform, not a bad thing. We don’t want things to move along too fast do we? But I digress.
McCarthy’s view and this was beginning to get across to the US public was that the Democrats were Liberal communist traitors. This obviously slightly puts the kibosh on the bigger picture of two parties running the show alternatively, not good for a two party state. Who will replace the other one? Will you be the other party to rule next? Would your party be even capable of winning an election (presumably there would only be one election under communism or fascism) against a party spouting a completely different ideology? Not good for the Republicans or Democrats trying to maintain an industrial capitalist system no matter which of them gets in.
This whole situation was leaving the wide door open for the soviets to denounce the US as a new fascist country, courtesy of McCarthy. We know what the communists think of fascists.
Eisenhower quite rightly felt that McCarthy was more popular than he should be and as politics goes, McCarthy’s days were numbered.
President Eisenhower who didn’t have a great liking for McCarthy.
McCarthy eventually was calling the CIA communists. Well the CIA today has, I would imagine Russian agents infiltrated in their ranks, as has the FSB (Federal Security Service – Russia’s – KGB of today) US agents in their ranks. I doubt much changes at bottom but the CIA were not a communist threat.
In days of McCarthyism when ordinary people could be accused of subversion certainly it was all too much for the US government to have it promoted to all and sundry and have their citizens view the state as a possible fascist entity.
It was also an exageration, the facts if ever there were any were becoming more invisible.
Finally the idea that the Republicans were saving the US from communism was looking a little jaded and outlandish. The populace didn’t roll with it and a new focus was required. The McCarthy era with all it’s own fascist tendencies was over and many people were quite obviously relieved.
A dangerous movement had formed in the US one that had turned on its own citizens. All clever politicians knows that eventually a populace will rise and turn on the political system that no longer rules for them.
And Richard Nixon? He lived to fight another day and the fight of his life was coming.
McCarthy began calling the CIA communists.
F.S.B Russia’s replacement for the K.G.B still agents in all the major countries.
I’m open to discussion on this.