Old school New York progressives like Chuck Schumer got denunciations of Joe McCarthy and “McCarthyism” along with their mother’s milk. It was the epitome of everything they claimed to detest. But that hasn’t stopped Schumer (and Nancy Pelosi) from duplicating McCarthy’s tactics now that it seems expedient to them to do so.
They had better be careful. Will future historians refer to anti-Russian hysteria and related political slander, not as McCarthyism, but as Schumerism or Pelosism?
The McCarthy era was not uncomplicated. Stalin had succeeded in infiltrating the American political establishment during and after WW2 to what seems in retrospect a remarkable degree. It has turned out that even Harry Dexter White, the US Treasury official who devised much of the current monetary system, including the International Monetary Fund and World Bank, was a Soviet agent. One of McCarthy’s top aides was none other than Robert Kennedy, the future president’s brother, later to be a fallen progressive icon. But even so, it seems clear that McCarthy was demogoguing the issue and so are progressives today who formerly claimed to despise everything he stood for.
Perhaps we ought to sympathize with Schumer. He is a brilliant political tactician who made what seemed to be a brilliant move that blew up in his face. He thought back in 2013 that Marco Rubio was the only Republican who could beat Hillary. He therefore plotted to ruin him with Republicans by ensnaring him in the gang of eight immigration legislation. It all worked perfectly. Rubio was ruined. But the result was Obama going too far on open borders and the resulting voter backlash that led directly to the election of Donald Trump. In politics, even the most brilliant tactician can be too smart (and also too calculating and too mean) for his own good, which is exactly what Schumer was.
Well, if Schumer gets into the history books, it doesn’t look like it will be for anything he would want to have memorialized.