Date Of Birth:
14 November 1908
Date Of Death:
2 May 1957
Place Of Birth:
Grand Chute, Wisconsin
Best Known As:
Communist-hating senator and namesake of "McCarthyism"
A bare-knuckled anti-communist crusader of the early 1950s, Senator Joe McCarthy remains one of the most controversial and reviled American politicians of the 20th century. A Marine Corps veteran of World War II, Joseph McCarthy was elected to the U.S. Senate from Wisconsin in 1946. He leapt to national fame on 9 February 1950 with a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, where he waved a piece of paper and claimed "I have in my hand" a list of known communist loyalists working in the State Department. For the next four years Joe McCarthy was one of the most powerful men in Washington as he developed a personal and political approach that has become known as McCarthyism: Bullying attacks and accusations, sneeringly anti-communist and anti-intellectual, with a tendency to brand anyone who disagreed with him as disloyal, un-American or a secret communist sympathizer. In 1954, at the height of Joseph McCarthy's power, the Army accused him and his staff of trying to get preferential treatment for a McCarthy consultant named G. David Schine; McCarthy retorted that the Army was trying to keep him from digging out more communists. In the televised hearings that followed, McCarthy's name-calling and browbeating tactics came off as mean-spirited and crude. McCarthy's popularity took a nose dive, and his fellow senators voted to officially censure him a few months later. He remained in the Senate until his death in 1957.
Joseph McCarthy was an intelligence officer stationed in the Pacific during World War II, where he occasionally rode along on missions in the tail-gunner seat; this is the somewhat dubious origin of his campaign nickname, “Tail-Gunner Joe”… A recent upsurge of defenders, who claim that Joe McCarthy was right about the communists all along, has yet to eclipse the mainstream view that he was a dirty dog.
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