Ike deserves more credit for bringing down McCarthyRoundup
tags: Eisenhower, Ike, McCarthy
Dennis Lythgoe, Salt Lake City, is a professor of history emeritus, Bridgewater State University, Bridgewater, Mass.
Recently, PBS presented an American Experience documentaryon the infamous communist hunter, Sen. Joseph McCarthy, R-Wis.
While watching the program, I was surprised that the producers failed to utilize a reinterpretation by a notable historian of Dwight Eisenhower’s presidency as it related to McCarthy. That book was published in 1982. Yet none of the historians consulted for the documentary indicated either a knowledge of the book, or of the other historians who revised the historical estimate of Eisenhower’s presidency in the 1980s and beyond.
The producers showed the red-baiting senator badgering highly respected Americans at lengthy hearings in the nation’s capital. McCarthy, an arrogant demagogue, showed himself devoid of any respect for humanity as he accused these people of being communists – then mocked them ruthlessly as un-American.
The hearings continued for days unabated, while McCarthy became the country’s best-known U.S. senator. Of course, he was later revealed to be a huge liar who had no verifiable evidence of his claims. Other Republicans soon realized that he was doing a massive disservice to the country.
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