Robert W. Merry: Harry Reid's McCarthyite ScreedRoundup: Media's Take
Robert W. Merry is editor of The National Interest and the author of books on American history and foreign policy. His most recent book is Where They Stand: The American Presidents in the Eyes of Voters and Historians (Simon & Schuster).
In early 1953, the newly inaugurated President Eisenhower nominated Charles E. ("Chip") Bohlen as ambassador to the Soviet Union. The man was eminently qualified—fluent in Russian and widely recognized as one of his country’s foremost Soviet experts. But he had been at the momentous Yalta summit conference of the Big Three Allied leaders—Franklin Roosevelt, Winston Churchill and Josef Stalin—who carved up the European continent in ways that later proved controversial. Bohlen had been merely a young interpreter at Yalta, but it didn’t matter. He quickly became a marked man to right-wing senators who at the time were making considerable political hay with their crusade to root out communists and other presumed security risks from the government.
Wisconsin’s fiery Joseph McCarthy and New Hampshire’s Styles Bridges attacked Bohlen as being insufficiently anticommunist for such a post. It caused a stir, but Eisenhower’s popularity and Bohlen’s reputation seemed adequate to ensure the diplomat’s Senate confirmation. Then the brash Democratic senator from Nevada, Pat McCarran, threw a wrench into the proceedings. He accused the new secretary of state, John Foster Dulles, of concealing damaging FBI evidence against Bohlen. A whisper campaign followed, suggesting Bohlen was homosexual, in those days considered a point of blackmail vulnerability.
McCarran didn’t present any evidence that there were in fact any such allegations residing in secret FBI files. He was merely repeating what he had heard, he said. But, without any shred of authentication, McCarthy promptly called upon Bohlen to take a polygraph test to prove his "innocence.’"
In terms of his slashing temperament, McCarran of Nevada bears a striking resemblance to Nevada’s current senior senator, majority leader Harry Reid...
comments powered by Disqus
- Obama May Create Monument to Gay Rights Movement
- China to release last prisoner jailed over Tiananmen Square protests
- Marine Corps investigating photo of iconic flag-raising on Iwo Jima
- Scholars Blast New Study Tracing Ashkenazi Jews to Khazars of Ancient Turkey
- Legendary Explorer’s Long-Lost Ship May Have Been Found Off Rhode Island
- The Historian Whitewashing Ukraine’s Past
- Andrew Roberts wins $250,000 prize from the conservative Bradley Foundation
- Daniel Aaron, Critic and Historian Who Pioneered American Studies, Dies at 103
- Liz Covart's amazingly popular podcast helps her audience understand early American history
- Justus Rosenberg is still teaching at age 95