The sting of the WASP

“McCarthyism went deeper in the American grain than most people wanted to admit: it was an odd amalgam of the traditional isolationism of the Midwest; McCarthy’s own personal recklessness and cruelty; the anxiety of a nation living in a period of new and edgy atomic tensions and no longer protected from adversaries by the buffer of its two adjoining oceans; and the fact that the Republican party had been out of power fo so long—twenty years, until Dwight Eisenhower, a kind of hired Republican, was finally elected. The Republicans’ long, arid period out of office, accentuated by Truman’s 1948 defeat of Dewey, had permitted the out-party in its desperation to accuse the leaders of the governing party of treason. . . . Long after McCarthy himself was gone, the fear of being accused of being soft on Communism lingered among the Democratic leaders. . . . The fear generated in those days lasted a long time.” – David Halberstam, The Best and the Brightest

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