April 11, 2008
From 1950 to 1954, Senator Joseph McCarthy was one of the most heard of and talked about figures in a time of many important political happenings. He was held in a complete and immortal infamy for creating a terrible “Red Scare” and smearing numerous innocent victims. McCarthy was branded so completely a demagogue, a bully, and a liar, so that even more than 50 years later his name remains fully associated with witch-hunts. However, this image can now, by way of new resources and extensive researching of the truth, be fully debunked. Joe McCarthy affected history as a pioneer in the fight against communism. He started the battle, laying the groundwork for other specific individuals to continue that same fight for America. McCarthy did not just affect history, he affected it in a way both valiant and patriotic, and it can now be seen that despite the wrongs done to his name, he was an inspiration. The attacks on McCarthy by his enemies eventually tore him down but not before he had badly stigmatized the evil of communism, and his victory was to survive him (Coulter 71).
Joseph Raymond McCarthy was born on a farm in Appleton, Wisconsin, as the fifth child of a devout Roman Catholic family of seven children. His family lived on and owned a farm; and while they could not be called “well off,” they always had enough. Instead of attending high school at age fourteen, he started his own poultry farm on his father's land. This went well but the winter of 1928 brought illness and severe weather, ending the venture. He then got jobs managing grocery stores, where his friendly manner and strong work ethic made him a locally prominent and successful figure. (Evans 28)
What everyone who knew McCarthy in this early stage of his life recalls, in general, was his cheerful personality. The young McCarthy was gregarious and good-natured, and was well-liked by just about everyone who knew him. He gave quite a different impression than the fulminations of those who smeared him. Among the most notable of these was the word portrait painted by New Yorker correspondent Richard Rovere in his book Senator Joe McCarthy (1959). No bolder seditionist has ever moved among us nor any politician with a swifter, surer, access to the dark places of the public mind... “Like Hitler, McCarthy was a screamer, a political thug, a master of the mob, an exploiter of popular fear... “His talk was laced with obscenity. He was a vulgarian... “He made little pretense to religiosity or to any species of moral rectitude... “He was morally indecent...1
Rovere's uncouth and unsubstantiated descriptions were part of the usual widespread slander of McCarthy that was pervasive in the journalism and political comment of the time. It is easy to see how a negative image was developed (Evans 27).
At around age 20, McCarthy realized that if he were ever going to be more than a storekeeper or a farmer, he had to get an education (28). He chose to enroll in a nearby high school; and under an accelerated program then being offered he completed four years worth of schooling in nine months. From high school, McCarthy went on to become a student at the Jesuit university, Marquette. In 1935, he attended Marquette Law School.
After gaining his law degree, he opened a practice in Waupaca, Wisconsin. McCarthy then decided to run for public office. He had all the necessary components: a competitive drive, a willingness to outwork his opponents, and a friendly outgoing nature (29). His first successful bid was a huge upset in a run for circuit judge at the age of only 30. With the coming of World War II, although exempt from the draft as a judge, McCarthy enlisted in the Marine Corps. He spent most of his time in service as an intelligence officer in the South Pacific.
In 1946, when he was back home from the war, he ran for US. Senate, his opponent in the...