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“Rethinking Their Attitudes On McCarthy”: Republican Support For McCarthyism Is Sometimes Literal

Exactly three years ago this week, a reporter from the Dallas Morning News told Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) he’s been compared at times to Joe McCarthy. Cruz said that criticism “may be a sign that perhaps we’re doing something right,” which seemed like a curious response given the context.

Asked specifically, “Is McCarthy someone you admire?” Cruz wouldn’t answer. “I’m not going to engage in the back and forth and the attacks,” he replied.

Three years later, this has come up again, but this time it’s not with the senator himself, but rather it’s one of his national security advisers. TPM noted yesterday:

Clare Lopez, a national security adviser to Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) presidential campaign, earlier this month said the late Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-WI) was “spot on” about communists infiltrating the United States government in the 1950s.

As Right Wing Watch discovered, the Cruz adviser compared Americans’ lack of preparedness for Muslims trying to infiltrate the government to communist spies during the Cold War.

“We can go all the way back, of course, to the time of the Cold War and back to the 1920s, ’30s, ’40s when communists, you know, the KGB, infiltrated our government at the very highest levels,” Lopez said. “And then, like now, we were unprepared and in large measure unaware of what was going on, at least until the House Un-American Activities got rolling in the 1950s with Sen. Joseph McCarthy, who absolutely was spot-on in just about everything he said about the levels of infiltration.”

Oh my.

There was a point in the not-too-distant past that both parties considered McCarthyism and the former senator’s legacy to be a scourge to be avoided forevermore.

But as Republican politics has shifted to the even-further-right, conservatives have begun to rethink their attitudes on McCarthy. Missouri’s Todd Akin, for example, compared himself to McCarthy two years ago, and he meant it in a good way.

In 2010 in Texas, conservative activists rewriting the state’s curriculum recommended telling students that McCarthy was a hero, “vindicated” by history. Around the same time, Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) endorsed bringing back the House Un-American Activities Committee.

In conservative media, headlines such as “It’s Time to See Joe McCarthy For the Hero He Was” are not uncommon.

As we discussed a couple of years ago, when the political world considers how much the Republican Party has changed over the last generation, look no further than those who’ve decided McCarthyism wasn’t so bad after all.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, March 23, 2016

March 24, 2016 Posted by | McCarthyism, Steve King, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

“Taking McCarthyism Literally”: Ted Cruz’s Ruthless And Baseless Witch Hunts Against His Perceived Rivals

When his detractors talk about Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), the one word that seems to come up more than any other is “McCarthyism.” The point, of course, is to draw parallels between Cruz’s worst habits and those of former Sen. Joe McCarthy (R-Wis.), who led ruthless and baseless witch hunts against his perceived rivals — while mastering the art of guilt by association — before being censured by the Senate in 1954, in an effort led by McCarthy’s own Republicans colleagues.

Though Cruz is nowhere near McCarthy’s level — give the Texan time, he only joined the Senate last month — the accusations are not without merit. We saw repeated examples of this during Cruz’s campaign against Chuck Hagel’s Defense Secretary nomination, which led Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) to recently note, “It was really reminiscent of a different time and place, when you said, ‘I have here in my pocket a speech you made on such and such a date,’ and, of course, nothing was in the pocket. It was reminiscent of some bad times.”

It was a trick Cruz leaned on repeatedly to question Hagel’s loyalty and patriotism, going so far as to suggest, without evidence, the former Republican senator may have received unreported funds from foreign enemies of the United States.

But Jane Mayer reports today that it wasn’t too long ago that Cruz delivered a speech at a Fourth of July weekend political rally, sponsored by the Koch brothers’ political group, accusing Harvard Law School of harboring secret Communists on its faculty

Cruz greeted the [2010] audience jovially, but soon launched an impassioned attack on President Obama, whom he described as “the most radical” President “ever to occupy the Oval Office.” (I was covering the conference and kept the notes.)

He then went on to assert that Obama, who attended Harvard Law School four years ahead of him, “would have made a perfect president of Harvard Law School.” The reason, said Cruz, was that, “There were fewer declared Republicans in the faculty when we were there than Communists! There was one Republican. But there were twelve who would say they were Marxists who believed in the Communists overthrowing the United States government.”

A Harvard Law spokesperson told Mayer the school is “puzzled” by Cruz’s accusations.

Of course, this shouldn’t come as too big a surprise. Most Americans look at McCarthy’s record as a stain on our political history; Cruz seems to look at McCarthy’s record as how-to guide.

Postscript: Long-time readers may recall that I’ve been fascinated for several years with the right’s willingness to re-embrace Joe McCarthy and his brand of politics.

Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) has endorsed bringing back the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC); Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) has said she supports investigations to determine which members of Congress are “pro-America or anti-America”; and in Texas, right-wing activists rewriting the state’s curriculum have recommended telling students that McCarthy was a hero, “vindicated” by history.

If I thought they’d appreciate it, I’d gladly chip in to buy copies of “Good Night, and Good Luck” for Cruz and his allies.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Mddow Blog, February 22, 2013

February 23, 2013 Posted by | McCarthyism, Ted Cruz | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

   

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