Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) has been said to have been a brilliant student at Harvard Law School. But it is hard to reconcile that successful law school experience with the arrogance he has demonstrated, the preposterous claims he has made, and the outrageous policies he espouses. Take, for example, that 2010 speech he made in which
he alleged that there were 12 communists on the faculty of the law school. Yes, he was that specific: there were 12. And he knew who they were. Sort of. More like he knew who he thought were communists. It was the type of accusation made by that paradigm of virtue, Senator Joe McCarthy (R-Wisconsin), in the early 1950s, when he was getting on a role, the world felt an incredibly dangerous place, and people were building fallout shelters in their backyards because they thought nuclear war with the USSR was imminent. The same Joe McCarthy who averred he had a list of 205 communists working in the US State Department, but who never produced his list of names.
In response to such a scurrilous allegation, the late Senator William J. Fulbright (D-Arkansas) said, “The junior senator from Wisconsin, by his reckless charges, has so preyed upon the fears and hatreds and prejudices of the American people that he has started a prairie fire which neither he nor anyone else may be able to control.” The junior senator from Texas has now entered that same arena, and it seems likely that he has no idea that his words could start a fire even more devastating than McCarthy’s. It is probably useless to point out to Cruz that there are no communists on the Harvard Law faculty, and that law faculties tend to have professors who could be described as ‘left-leaning.’ It is the nature of academics that liberals gravitate to it while conservatives tend to enter businesses. Fortunately, the New Yorker reporter Jane Mayer called him out on this, yet even then his spokesperson insisted that Cruz was speaking the truth. Hardly.
Where else does he go off the rails. Well, given where the country is in the same-sex marriage debate, with a majority of millenials wondering why there’s such fuss about it, Cruz had something to say about Dallas’s mayor marching twice in gay pride parades: “When a mayor of a city chooses twice to march in a parade celebrating gay pride that’s a statement and it’s not a statement I agree with.” Ok, homophobic. Check.
Or course, is against abortion. Very Christian. Neanderthal.
Joe McCarthy had a good run. He was born into a devoutly Catholic family. (There seems to be a high correlation between devout Christianity and outrageous politics, but more on that when I write about His Emptiness, Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York.) He was originally a Democrat but lost his first election, so he switched to the Republican party. He was elected judge of the 10th judicial circuit in Wisconsin in 1939, publishing slanderous materials about his opponent. After serving in the US Marines in World War II, he ran against Robert M. La Follette in 1946, where he accused La Follette of making a profit from the war and failing to join the military to fight. In fact, La Follette bought a radio station with a slim profit margin and was too old to join the military, but those truths meant nothing to McCarthy. He won, showing just how bad a job the American public does sorting out truth from fiction. On his first day in Congress, he called a press conference to give his views on how to end a coal miners’ strike then in full swing. (Does that arrogance sound familiar?)
He went along for a few year, failing to capture the nation’s attention. But then an investigation started into allegations that he had taken bribes from the Pepsi-Cola corporation. If proved, he might have been expelled from the Senate. He consulted with his closest advisors, which included a Catholic priest, who advised hi
m to begin a campaign to rid the government of communists. On February 9, 1950, in a speech in Wheeling, West Virginia, he held up that infamous piece of paper that he said contained the names of communists working for the government. It must have been then that he realized he could soar on slander and innuendo. He ran for the senate seat of the senator who investigated his allegations of communists in the woodwork and won. By that point senators were afraid of him and he continued his outrageous demagoguery.
What did him in was television. He took on the US Army in an investigation of undesirables and it was televised. People of all stripes could finally see what a bully he was, and how he offered no proof for his shocking claims. Harry Truman said of him, “This is the first time in my experience, and I was ten years in the Senate, that I ever heard of a Senator trying to discredit his own Government before the world….” The most dramatic remonstrance was Joseph Welch‘s comment to McCarthy after the senator was ripping into a witness: “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”
McCarthy was finally censured by the Senate for his behavior. He died of acute hepatitis brought on by alcoholism in 1957.
Do you seen the similarities between Senator Cruz and Senator McCarthy? What can be expected is that Cruz will eventually go too far. He has already alienated most members of the Senate. No one likes him. But he doesn’t seem to care, and like Joe McCarthy goes blithely on stating absurdities and horrendous policies. He will crash and burn, but not before much collateral damage is done. Reasonable people can only hope that his time on the national stage is short.
- “Have you no sense of decency, sir?” McCarthy – Army Hearings, June 9, 1954 (historymartinez.wordpress.com)