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 Political

Published

 April, 2009

Synopsis

 Republicans Channel Joe McCarthy

Drowning in a Sea of Socialists

As I type this, I’m holding in my hand a list of 36 known lawbreakers serving in the U.S. Congress.

I will reveal them shortly. I need to plant a little subtext first.

I know you’re already questioning the veracity of this claim based on the near impossibility of typing with two hands, while holding a list of miscreants in another. Well, I’m hunting and pecking for this particular exercise.

Here’s their criminal activity. You know that tag on your pillow that says “Do Not Remove Under Penalty of Law?” I have reliable proof that 36 members of the U.S. House and Senate have removed theirs.

I’m going to hold a news conference and reveal their names, and to call for an investigation. We can’t have our elected officials thumb their noses at the law.

I’m following the lead of Sen. Joe McCarthy who spoke at a dinner in Wheeling on March 9th, 1950. He stepped to the dais and said: “I have in my hand a list of 205 that were known to the Secretary of State as being members of the Communist Party and who are still working and shaping the policy of the State Department.”

So began one of the ugliest chapters in American history. An otherwise unremarkable public official from Wisconsin, set about getting himself re-elected (He had two years remaining in his freshman term at the time), to gain widespread headlines – and to destroy the lives of hundreds of innocent Americans.

After Wheeling, he headed west to Nevada to give another speech. His plane made a stop in Denver along the way.
When a Denver reporter asked McCarthy to reveal the names he had on his supposed list, McCarthy balked – claiming he’d left the list in another suit on the airplane.

Years would pass before McCarthy was completely discredited. The term “McCarthyism” is a stark reminder that nothing can be truly gained by making bold, unsubstantiated personal attacks – but the public’s temporary attention.

So much so, that historian Ellen Schrecker wrote in her 1998 book “Many Are the Crimes: McCarthyism in America” that "in this country, McCarthyism did more damage to the constitution than the American Communist Party ever did."

Those who know anything about McCarthy can spot his disciples the moment they speak.

On October 17th, 2008, Michelle Bachmann (R-Min) claimed that the media should conduct an “expose” to uncover the anti-Americans among her ranks in Congress.

That, fortunately, became a national laughing matter. She’s since made similarly provocative statements that further drive her from the mainstream of the Republican Party, and onto the growing list of rightwing gadflies.

Enter Alabama Congressman Spencer Bachus. His statement in on April 9th, "Some of the men and women I work with in Congress are socialists,” was quickly followed by him claiming he had a “list” of 17 members of the U.S. House who are.

At least Michelle Bachman wasn’t dumb enough to bring a list. Since Spencer’s supposed revelation, he’s been mostly when pressed to name any names.

This is at a time when rightwing pundits are making their (sometimes) considerable livings by brandishing the “socialist” word as frequently as they can.

It is, and always has been, a phony argument.

Many of these fear mongers make free use of the U.S. Postal Service, get monthly Social Security payments, send their children to public schools, enjoy the benefits of Medicare, rely heavily on the knowledge of air traffic controllers, ride on publicly funded mass transit operations and reap all manner of government benefits in an economic system that is hybrid socialism and capitalism. That’s ok to them, as long as they publically decry our current “Welfare state.”

These are the same people who complain that the government shouldn’t be in the business making the lives of people livable, while they long for a slice of that good old surplus cheese.

Spencer Bachus has bought himself a little publicity. Perhaps, in his ultra-conservative district in Alabama, he’s even bought some votes.

He, like me, has a list of names not worthy of revealing.

Edward A. Owens of Uniontown is Webmaster of “Red Raider Nation: Where Champions Live.” E-mail him at freedoms@bellatlantic.net