Today’s must read column is by E. J. Dionne Jr. of The Washington Post:
The New McCarthyism
In the 1950s the right wing attacked liberals as being communists. In 2005 Karl Rove has attacked liberals as being therapists. Thus is born a kinder and gentler form of McCarthyism.
Named after the late Sen. Joe McCarthy, who never let the facts get in the way of his lust to charge liberals with sedition, McCarthyism has come to mean “guilt by association.” What gave McCarthyism its power was the fact that the senator from Wisconsin did not invent the danger posed to the United States by Soviet communism. The Soviet Union was a real threat, and there were real communist spies working in America.
What made McCarthy and his allies so insidious was their eagerness to level the “soft on communism” charge against even staunchly anticommunist liberals. One of them was Secretary of State Dean Acheson, an architect of Harry Truman’s tough policy of containing Soviet power. In the 1952 presidential campaign, Richard Nixon pounded Democratic nominee Adlai Stevenson for earning a “PhD from Dean Acheson’s College of Cowardly Communist Containment.”
The McCarthyites’ real enemies were not communists but the New Deal liberals who had dominated U.S. politics for 20 years. The McCarthy crowd was willing to divide the nation at a time of grave international peril if that’s what it took to beat the liberals.
Rove’s instantly famous speech last week to the New York State Conservative Party should be read in light of this history and not be written off as a cheap, one-time partisan attack. On the contrary, the address by Rove, President Bush’s most important adviser, provides the outlines of a sophisticated strategy aimed at making liberals and Democrats all look soft on terrorism…
Respectable opinion treats Rove’s speech as just another partisan flap. It’s much more. It’s the reincarnation of a style of politics that turns political opponents into traitors or dupes who are soft on the nation’s enemies. Welcome back to the ’50s.
Click on the headline to read the full column, then think about it tonight as you watch The Pretend President once again spout his lies about his illegal and unnecessary invasion of Iraq.
That is, if you watch. You don’t really need to. You’ve heard it all before. Same old same old.