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Kevin M. Kruse

Kevin M. Kruse

Feb 9, 2017
20 tweets

It's a snow day, so let's talk about the anniversary of McCarthyism. /1…

#ThisDayInHistory, 1950: Sen. Joseph McCarthy claims to have a list of "known communists" in the U.S. State Dept, initiating a Red Scare.
McCarthy claimed to have a list of communists at State, but he refused to show the list. His numbers kept changing: 205 to 57 to 81… /2
This led to a great moment in "Manchurian Candidate," when they joked he got the idea from a bottle of Heinz 57: /3…
McCarthy never shared the "evidence," but he got his headlines and secured the political spotlight. He then held it for four long years. /4
Whatever the realities of communist subversion were in the '50s, McCarthy really didn’t care. He was, at heart, a pathological liar. /5
When he was caught in an outright lie, as he often was, he attacked his accuser as an enemy of America and just moved on to new attacks. /6
The fact that a charge would later be shown to be false didn’t matter, because a new attack was ready to replace it on the front pages. /7
The “Democratic label,” he said, “is now the property of men and women who have bent to the whispered pleas from the lips of traitors.” /8
The administrations of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry Truman, he charged, were nothing less than "twenty years of treason." /9
Leading Republicans in Congress recognized Joe McCarthy's value as a partisan attack dog and largely looked the other way. /10
But McCarthy kept his attacks up, even after the GOP retook the White House. He had to keep it up, to keep his name in the papers. /11
Ultimately, McCarthy overreached. In 1954, targeted the US Army, which pushed back. The Senate held hearings to air both sides' charges. /12
The hearings, watched by 20 million Americans, finally exposed McCarthy as the bully and fraud he had always been. /13
He presented a photo; it was proven to have been doctored. He offered a letter from J. Edgar Hoover; the defense showed it was a fake. /14
The media, which had once fanned the fires of McCarthyism, steadily turned against him to expose his lies. /15
Most famous, Edward R. Murrow, who devoted his "See It Now" show to exposing McCarthy's frauds & fear-mongering /16…
The hearings, meanwhile, exposed McCarthy as a bully. They also showed what happens when people push back. /17…
After the hearings, McCarthy's spell on the country was broken. Senate voted to censure him by a 67-22 vote, with 22 GOP members for it. /18
The White House cut him off. In 1956, McCarthy tried to join VP Nixon at a rally. Aides made him leave. He was found crying outside. /19
Already an alcoholic, McCarthy turned even more to his drinking. In May 1957, he died of a liver condition. He was just 48 years old. /20
Kevin M. Kruse

Kevin M. Kruse

Historian: White Flight; New Suburban History; Fog of War; One Nation Under God; Fault Lines; Voter Suppression; Myth America:
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