1950's

McCarthyism

By Lisa Martin


Senator McCarthy made it into history books when he accused about two hundred people in the government of being communists.  He started a five-year long series of political "witch hunts" to expose communists in the United States government.

In spite of never publically producing any real evidence to support his claims, Senator McCarthy was able to garner enough support to be re-elected and became chairman of the Permanent Investigations Committee.  Nobody was safe from his accusations, not even President Dwight Eisenhower and the ever-popular general George Marshall.  But, when the Senator challenged a dentist who worked for the army he went too far.

The Army had moved quickly to discharge their questionable dentist, but Senator McCarthy continued his verbal attacks on the Army.

The Army retaliated by accusing Senator McCarthy of attempting to get special treatment for a governmental consultant, David Schine.  To make matters worse for the senator, his own subcommittee held the hearing.  The case hearings were broadcasted on television, which ruined McCarthy’s public image.  He never apologized to the people he accused, even when the Senate censored him.

His brief time in the spotlight over, Senator McCarthy died after a battle with alcoholism.  His downfall is similar to that of many politicians caught on tape during their worst moments.  McCarthy’s case foreshadowed the media circus of American politics today.