The Problem Isn’t ‘McCarthyism,’ It’s McCarthymania

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By: Diana West

The Weekly Standard says the 1950s case of Pvt. David Schine “mirrors” that of Esn. Hunter Biden’s. Really? Or is this a case of McCarthymania?

mccarthyA recent post in the Australian blog Law of Markets begins:

There is, for some reason, a desire on the right to continuously play into the hands of the left on Joe McCarthy….

Yes, you can say that again. This perverse desire is hardwired into the American reflex to a point of scuttling rational appraisals of the man and, to my way of thinking, his exceptionally brave and patriotic efforts to penetrate the federal jungle and expose some of the many hundreds of Soviet agents and ideological Communists who covertly infiltrated the government during the Roosevelt/Truman administrations. McCarthy was quite successful it turns out, once you starting counting up the agents and Communists his committee investigated — as the nation’s pre-eminent McCarthy expert M. Stanton Evans recently did here. America, however, has been relentlessly conditioned to see McCarthy as evil incarnate — far worse than any Hiss or White, two of the most prominent federal employees (and Soviet agents) whose perfidy led to the deaths of millions of people, including tens of thousands of Americans.

This is the reckoning America avoids like a political plague, regularly employing intense political ju-ju to ward it off — McCarthymania. From Right to Left, there is this will to trash Joseph McCarthy for anything, regardless of the facts, and regardless of how, as Law of Markets points out, it plays into the hands of the Left. It also has the effect of rendering the very concept of exposing covert influence agents making war on the Constitution politically radioactive, as Rep.Michele Bachmann, for one, can attest.

Law of Markets was picking up on a US commentary on the case of Hunter Biden, the veep’s son who entered the Navy at the overripe age of 43, only to be booted one month later after testing positive for cocaine.

Law of Markets:

Obviously a minor scandal for this administration and representative of the moral laxity of the left. Not so fast. This is from The Weekly Standard and comes with the title, “Biden Cocaine Scandal Mirrors Joe McCarthy Scandal” just so you cannot miss the core point that the story is absolutely not about Biden but McCarthy. The final paras bring up this supposed parallel from the 1950s.

A more instructive parallel, however, might be to Sen. Joseph McCarthy, of all people. When one of McCarthy’s Senate aides, G. David Schine, was drafted into the Army and sent to basic training at Ft. Monmouth [sic], N.J., Roy Cohn, another McCarthy aide and reputedly Schine’s lover, intervened persistently to obtain an officer’s commission for Schine.

Really? If so, by the Standard’s promised “mirror,” history should tell us that an unjustly commissioned Schine, a la Biden fils, went on to be booted from the military for drug use or perhaps a 1950s morals change such as homosexuality, as a reader might reasonably infer from the “reputedly Schine’s lover” comment.

But no, history doesn’t tell us that. Schine was not comissioned an officer; he served at Fort Dix (more about Fort Monmouth below) as a private. It seems that McCarthy — or, in the fine print beneath the Standard’s headline, McCarthy aide Roy Cohn — didn’t wield vice-president-sized influence. Further, Pvt. Schine wasn’t booted from the military for any reason. So when does this uncanny “scandal mirror” materialize as promised? Or will “Biden’s Cocaine Scandal Mirrors Joe McCarthy’s Scandal” turn out to be a mirror crack’d?

The Weekly Standard:

When the Army protested about repeated threats and interference from the senator’s office, McCarthy charged that the Army was attempting to retaliate against his investigations into communist subversion in the armed forces. The televised hearings that were held during April-June 1954 to investigate the matter — the famous Army-McCarthy hearings — not only revealed that McCarthy and his staff had repeatedly wielded their influence on behalf of Schine, but had done so despite Schine’s complete lack of qualifications for an officer’s commission.

The long, contentious, messy and quite complicated Army-McCarthy hearings revealed a lot of things, including, for example, evidence of Army efforts to stop McCarthy from investigating what the Standard rather discreetly calls “communist subversion in the armed forces” — in fact, espionage and security failures at the top secret Army research facility of Fort Monmouth. Such complex circumstances would seem to set the Schine and Biden stories apart, but not in a case of McCarthymania.

The hearings also made clear that it was not the Standard-headline’s McCarthy, but rather top aide Cohn who aggressively hectored Army contacts on Schine’s behalf, resulting, as best I can tell, mainly in a liberal leave policy for Schine, arguably to complete committee work (this was a matter of contention). Ironically, at one point in the proceedings, as Evans relates in his definitive McCarthy study, Blacklisted by History, famed Army lawyer Welch, thinking to discredit Cohn, moved to introduce into the record one of the many Army-transcribed conversations on the matter, in this case between Army Secretary Stevens and Sen. McCarthy. It was a conversation “in which McCarthy downplayed the importance of Schine [as an investigator on his staff], said he didn’t want any favors for him, and said Cohn was `completely unreasonable’ on the topic.” So much for that Biden-McCarthy comparison.

The hearings also demonstrated the Army’s failure to make its most serious charge against McCarthy-Cohn stick. “Most relevant to the official outcome,” Evans writes, “the Army conspicuously failed to prove that the Monmouth hearings, subpoenas for the Loyalty Board, or any other investigatve effort by McCarthy-Cohn had any linkage to Dave Schine — the essence of the original charges.”

On the contrary, Evans explains, it was the Army who seems to have been using Schine as a lever on the McCarthy committee — not the other way around! (If there’s precedent here, it lies in the earlier case of Robert Stripling, the stellar investigator for the House Un-American Activities Committee, who, despite being 31, a husband, a father, and having a congressional exemption for holding a key security-related post, was drafted to push a broom around an Army compound for a year.) Evans writes:

The appointed judges in the matter were agreed that [the Army] did try to use the famous private [Schine] as a pawn to get the Monmouth hearings canceled. This didn’t mean Cohn was off the hook for having pestered people about Schine, but that these efforts, instead of causing the Monmouth probe, most probably encouraged [the Army] in attempts to stop it.

In short, a complex affair (this barely scratches the top) that tells us something about national security issues and power struggles between two government branches in the mid-20th century, but rather less about the tawdry but relatively minor Biden cocaine story today.

The Weekly Standard concludes:

But just as the effort to make G. David Schine an Army officer taught the country something about Senator McCarthy, so the brief, inglorious naval career of Hunter Biden tells us something about Vice President Biden — and the culture of entitlement in political Washington that has tarnished the Navy.

Ergo, Biden + political favors + cocaine = McCarthy. Several conservative websites reposted this short essay, apparently perceiving in it much light and truth.

And the view from Down Under? Law of Markets concludes:

They don’t get it, do they? The lessons McCarthy should have taught us is how easy it is for our enemies to penetrate to the highest ranks of an Administration, which you can read about in Diana West’s American Betrayal. Harry Hopkins (who?) ought to be a lesson we can learn from but apparently the only lesson is that McCarthy may or may not have used influence to get one of his assistants an officer’s commission.

If we are looking for instructive parallels today, what McCarthy did sixty years ago would be the last last place you should look but with some people it’s never a bad time to kick a good man when he’s down.

Personally, I do see in what McCarthy did sixty years ago — and what was done and is still being done to him — parallels that bear on our plight today. Chronic McCarthymania still keeps the Establishment, Left or Right, from taking an unflinching and fateful look in a new mirror.

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