McCarthy’s Abuse of Power In 1954 a young junior Senator from the state of Wisconsin held the entire Senate in the palm of his hand. Senator Joseph R. McCarthy used an aggressive strategy of lies, personal attacks, and propaganda in an aggressive attempt to gain power. Was Senator McCarthy a crusader for the common good of the people or was he the ringleader of a witch-hunt seeking only political power? What tactics did McCarthy use to gain his power? What brought about his demise? Joseph McCarthy was a complex man and in order to understand his thinking you must first look at his history, tactics, and supporters. Joseph McCarthy wasnt always the brash and aggressive man that history has made him out to be. McCarthy was born to a good Irish Catholic family.
Neighbors remember Joseph as being a shy lad, seen-but-not-heard. At nineteen McCarthy left home to fill a position as a store manager. At about this time the once shy and timid boy began to change into a sharp and aggressive man. McCarthy went back to school where he graduated from Marquette University with the title class president and a law degree. McCarthy began practicing law in a small town and was soon offered a position with a well-respected law firm, which he snatched up. McCarthy soon became disenchanted working for someone else and wanted some power of his own.
McCarthy began hobnobbing with the local clubs and organizations McCarthy was so well liked that he was elected president of the Young Democratic Clubs of Wisconsins Seventh District. With a political backing McCarthy decided to run for district attorney of Shawano County under the Democratic ticket. McCarthy came in second losing to a Progressive candidate but beat out the Republican candidate by about a thousand votes. McCarthy polled in seven times as many votes as he should have which gave the fresh faced lawyer good hopes for the future. McCarthy, in his high spirits, than decided to go after the position of tenth circuit judge.
McCarthy faced a tough challenge because in front of his ambitions was a seasoned Judge of 35 years who most people predicted would be a sure win. One farmer describes McCarthy, ” He had barely turned thirty; he was probably the least experienced lawyer in the district, and he lacked the dignity a judge should have.” McCarthy would not let opinions get in his way and he ran a furious campaign. Judge Werner was 66 and McCarthy referred to him as”my 73-year-old Opponent,” because of this McCarthy was able to exploit an age issue, which he used it in his campaign. McCarthy also ran an aggressive mailing campaign sending out thousands of letters. All of these factors lead Joseph R. McCarthy to the courthouse and granted him his first taste of political power.
“Judge McCarthy Breezed into the courtroom full of vim and vitality, like a strong west wind blowing through the moldering halls of justice.” McCarthy came to the courtroom with energy, which quickly dealt away a backlog of nearly 250 cases. McCarthy was not as judicial as he was quick and was known to grant “quickie divorces” to his political supporters. At one point the Wisconsin Supreme Court labeled his actions as “highly improper.” While a judge McCarthy began networking and developed a list of names and numbers of key political players and media connections, which he could count on if he ever need support. In 1942 McCarthy waived his judicial deferment and joined the Marine Corps. The reason for this is shaky at least but his actions in the Corps give evidence that he needed a good military background if he were to be successful in politics. “He quickly won a reputation among fellow officers as an “operator” and a “promoter.
On one occasion he sat in the rear of a grounded dive bomber and fired off 4,700 rounds of ammunition, a publicity stunt which made the Associated Press wire.” In another instance McCarthy spread around a rumor that he had been wounded in action, which also made the papers back home. McCarthy with the rank of Captain went on active leave and upon return to Wisconsin decided to change his party affiliation to Republican and divert all his political energies towards running for Senator. Two things conflicted with this action, one is that servicemen are forbidden to speak on political issues, and two that he was still a judge and was not allowed to hold any other office until his term ran out. McCarthy confronted these issues the same way he confronts all his issues, he ignores them. With the dirt, which he had acquired while working as a judge, McCarthy outmaneuvered and out hustled all other opponents to win the Republican nomination. McCarthys next major political challenge was against Democratic nominee Howard McMurray.
This is the first incidence that McCarthy uses the issue of communism. “He told one audience that McMurray was “communistically inclined,” and another that he was a megaphone being used by the Communist-controlled P.A.C.” McCarthy did not press to hard on the communist issue, and when he did use it he was in line with the rest of his party who were criticizing liberals all over the country. McCarthy won the Senate race against McMurray, but not by a well ran campaign. The fact that McCarthy was a Republican in a Republican year made all the difference and McCarthy rode in on his partys shoulders. While in the Senate McCarthy begins to show his real qualities which history has given him.
He uses slander, liable, and all out fabrication of the truth to his credit. His first year in congress was uneventful and people have labeled him as a substandard Senator if it were not for his discovery of the communist issue and speech at Wheeling, West Virginia. McCarthy more than once trampled over the unwritten rules of seniority, courtesy, and reciprocity which or legislative body enforces in order to pass legislation. “He had no respect for the spirit of senatorial courtesy or for the rules of seniority, and he was perfectly willing to make personal attacks on fellow senators.” McCarthy was an opportunist and one Senator was quoted as saying of McCarthy that, ” he will run the knife into you particularly if the public is going to see it and he will do it for no particular reason.” McCarthy when questioned and confronted turned the table around and attacked the person rather than the idea that was being debated. “If one was ever approached by another person in a not completely friendly fashion, one should start kicking at the other person as fast as possible below the belt until the other person was rendered helpless.” McCarthy.
McCarthys strategy was to go on the offense at all times. Above all McCarthys major contribution to government was his extreme views towards …