McCarthy Redux

Same story second verse, a little bit louder, a little bit worse.

– Anon.  

We thought the worst McCarthy was behind us. Joe became prominent in the early 1950s when he claimed to have found hundreds of Communists who had infiltrated assorted federal agencies, including the State Department.  In 1953 he became chairman of the Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations.  Instead of investigating fraud and waste in the Federal Government, the task formerly assigned to that committee, Joe led the committee on a hunt for Communists.  In the process he destroyed dozens of lives by claiming that those he attacked were members of the Communist party, accusations that in many cases caused his victims to be ostracized, in some cases jailed and, in many cases, to have their careers destroyed.

McCarthy’s Communist hunting career came to an end in 1954 during the Army-McCarthy  hearings.  During the hearings McCarthy claimed that one of the lawyers working with Joseph Welch, the lawyer retained by the Army to defend it against charges made by McCarthy, had ties to a Communist organization. Mr. Welch responded to McCarthy with the never forgotten response:  “Have you no sense of decency?” The hearings essentially brought McCarthy’s career to an end and although not removed from the Senate, he died of alcoholism in 1957.

Kevin McCarthy is the ringmaster for the Republican circus in 2022. It took the Republicans more than 50 years to replace Joe, but they have no reason to be embarrassed by the long delay and their choice of Kevin. He is easily Joe’s match, if not his better.

Following in Joe’s footsteps, Kevin has shown that the absence of integrity is not a bar to achieving prominence in the houses of Congress. In his case it enables him to serve as the leader of the Republicans in the House of Representatives rather than the leader in the hunt for Communists.  In that capacity he has become the spokesperson for Republicans addressing the events that took place in the nation’s capital on January 6, 2021. In so doing he and his followers are destroying the institution in which they serve.

On January 13, 2021, seven days after the January 6 events, an impeachment resolution was being considered by the House and Senate because of the trump’s responsibility for the events of January 6.  According to a report in the Washington Post, Mitch McConnell, then the Majority leader, let it be known that he believed the trump had committed impeachable offenses by his conduct on January 6.  Like Mitch, Kevin took a principled stand in commenting on the trump’s January 6 conduct.  He said:  “The president bears responsibility for Wednesday’s attack on Congress by mob rioters.  He should have immediately denounced the mob when he saw what was unfolding.  These facts required … President Trump to accept his share of responsibility, quell the brewing unrest and ensure President-elect Biden is able to successfully begin his term.”

According to a report in the New York Times, during a recorded call with colleagues McCarthy said:  “I’ve had it with this guy. What he did is unacceptable. Nobody can defend that, and nobody should defend it.” That was then-this is now.

On Tuesday, April 22, 2022 the New York Times reported the content of McCarthy’s taped call among his colleagues.   Ever aware that his friendship with the trump was more important than a trivial allegiance to the truth, McCarthy promptly responded to the story by placing a call to the trump and going to Ma-a-Lago to explain his apparent disloyalty to the trump.  It worked.  On Friday the trump told the Wall Street Journal that his relationship with McCarthy was good.  The trump said:  “I heard the call. I didn’t like the call.  But almost immediately as you know, because he came here, and we took a picture right there-you know the support was very strong.” That was not enough to satisfy all inquirers.

On Monday April 28th, while on a trip to the Mexican border, a trip probably in part to enable McCarthy to inspect fences to protect us from immigrants and a distraction he needed  to protect himself from the harmful effects of the New York Times story, he was asked why he denied having asked the trump to resign.  Facile, as always, with the truth, McCarthy responded that he never asked the president to resign. The reporter never asked me that question. . . .And that’s what I was answering. . ..If you’re asking now, did I tell my members that we’re gonna ask. . .ask them if I told any of them that I said that to President Trump-the answer is no.  I’m glad you asked that question but what’s more important than something that happened 15 months ago on a private conversation with about four other people is what’s happening here right now.”  He was probably referring to the fence that was designed to keep illegal immigrants from getting into the country.  It coincided nicely with McCarthy’s use of obfuscatory language as a fence to keep the truth from getting out.

Joe McCarthy is probably spinning in his grave-with envy.  Kevin’s lack of integrity may well lead him to greater success than Joe enjoyed half a century earlier.

Christopher Brauchli can be e-mailed at For political commentary see his web page at