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Monday, 03 November 2008 13:44

Joseph McCarthy

Joseph Raymond McCarthy

Born: November 14, 1908, Grand Chute, Wisconsin

Died: May 2, 1957, Bethesda, Maryland

Age: 48

Cause of death: Acute hepatitis following alcoholism.

Notable because:  A Catholic who brought considerable misery to many Americans of a better disposition than himself before succumbing to his own consuming weakness. The tactics associated with his 'McCarthyism' era, were used to great effect against Democratic politicians and serve as a model of excellence in criminal immorality to this day.


In 1952, journalist Hank Greenspun wrote a column about the ambitious senator which could not have found its way into print without powerful support. It said that

"Joe McCarthy is a bachelor of 43 years. ... He seldom dates girls and if he does he laughingly describes it as window dressing. It is common talk among homosexuals in Milwaukee who rendezvous in the White Horse Inn that Senator Joe McCarthy has often engaged in homosexual activities." (Las Vegas Sun, Oct. 25, 1952)

While McCarthy was said to have briefly threatened to sue Greenspun for libel, he later declined to do so, reportedly after lawyers told him it meant he'd have to testify about his sexuality. Less than a year later, McCarthy married his secretary, Jeannie Kerr.

Joseph  McCarthy was an American politician who served as a Republican U.S. Senator from the state of Wisconsin from 1947 until his death in 1957. Beginning in 1950, McCarthy became the most visible public face of a period of intense anti-communist suspicion inspired by the tensions of the Cold War. He was noted for making claims that there were large numbers of Communists and Soviet spies and sympathizers inside the federal government and elsewhere. Ultimately, McCarthy's tactics and his inability to substantiate his claims led to his being discredited and censured by the United States Senate. The term "McCarthyism," coined in 1950 in reference to McCarthy's practices, was soon applied to similar anti-communist pursuits. Today the term is used more generally to describe demagogic, reckless, and unsubstantiated accusations, as well as public attacks on the character or patriotism of political opponents.

Born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, McCarthy earned a law degree at Marquette University in 1935 and was elected as a circuit judge in 1939, the youngest in state history. At age 33, McCarthy volunteered for the United States Marine Corps and served during World War II. He successfully ran for the United States Senate in 1946, defeating Robert M. La Follette, Jr. After several largely undistinguished years in the Senate, McCarthy rose suddenly to national fame in 1950 when he asserted in a speech that he had a list of "members of the Communist Party and members of a spy ring" who were employed in the State Department.

However, McCarthy was never able to substantiate his sensational charges. In succeeding years, McCarthy made accusations of Communist infiltration into the State Department, the administration of President Truman, Voice of America, and the United States Army. He also used charges of communism, communist sympathies, or disloyalty to attack a number of politicians and other individuals inside and outside of government. With the highly publicized Army-McCarthy hearings of 1954, McCarthy's support and popularity began to fade. Later in 1954, the Senate voted to censure Senator McCarthy by a vote of 67 to 22, making him one of the few senators ever to be disciplined in this fashion. McCarthy died in Bethesda Naval Hospital on May 2, 1957, at the age of 48. The official cause of death was acute hepatitis; it is widely accepted that this was brought on by alcoholism



Last Updated on Tuesday, 02 December 2008 15:48

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