Trumpism Is the New McCarthyismRoundup
tags: McCarthyism, Trump, Trumpism
Nearly 70 years after Joseph McCarthy produced his first list of alleged government subversives at a West Virginia Republican banquet, the Wisconsin senator still haunts us. As historians and others ransack the American past searching for predecessors of our current president, McCarthy’s name often tops the list—but usually for the wrong reasons.
Even though the Donald doesn’t drink and “Tail-Gunner Joe” was a lush who died of liver failure, the two men are similar in many trivial and not-so-trivial ways. Like McCarthy, Trump is a sociopathic personality whose aberrant behavior facilitated a right-wing campaign against core democratic values.
Consistency is neither man’s hobgoblin. As blatant opportunists, neither was or is loyal to anything beyond themselves. After initially flirting with the social liberalism of their day, both switched parties and ideologies. During his early career as a judge in Appleton, Wisconsin, McCarthy was criticized for granting the quickest divorces around (at a moment when divorce was still considered scandalous, something reserved for abandoned women and film stars). While in his pre-Republican mode, Trump was a self-professed New York Democrat who was once, as he told Meet the Press in 1999, “very pro-choice.”
The two men have a remarkably similar relationship with the truth. McCarthy, like many politicians, exaggerated his wartime record while publicizing his ever-changing lists of—was it 81, 57, 205?—Communists in the State Department. No need here to detail Trump’s prevarications. The Washington Post says it’s an average of six or seven a day. Denial is his default mode.
In this, Trump may well have been following the advice of McCarthy’s former staffer, the notorious legal sleaze Roy Cohn, whose good connections and tainted ethics enabled him to service both McCarthy’s irresponsible allegations as well as the current president’s unprincipled business dealings. ...
comments powered by Disqus
- Trump administration says joint UNC, Duke Middle East Studies program portrays Islam too positively
- What White Kids Learn About Race in School
- Frederick Douglass photos smashed stereotypes. Could Elizabeth Warren selfies do the same?
- Chronicling New York’s Muslim History
- New Documents Illuminate The University of Texas’s Secret Strategy to Keep Out Black Students
- Women Scientists Were Written Out of History. It’s Margaret Rossiter’s Lifelong Mission to Fix That
- Allen C. Guelzo Reviews Sidney Blumenthal's Latest Installment of His Biography of Lincoln
- What Reconstruction-Era Laws Can Teach Our Democracy: The NY Times Reviews Eric Foner's Latest Book
- Should historians read their own book?
- Cokie Roberts, Pioneering Journalist Who Helped Shape NPR, Dies At 75