Victor Davis Hanson Private Papers

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Harry Reid: A McCarthy for Our Time

The senator is a throwback to a type of American Politics better left forgotten.

by Victor Davis Hanson // National Review Online

We should ask Senate majority leader Harry Reid (D., Nev.) the same question once posed to Senator Joseph McCarthy by U.S. Army

Senate Democrats via Flickr

Senate Democrats via Flickr

head-counsel Robert N. Welch: “Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?”

Reid is back in the news for denigrating the peaceful supporters of Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy, a popular critic of the Bureau of Land Management policy, as “domestic terrorists.”

McCarthy in the 1950s became infamous for smearing his opponents with lurid allegations that he could not prove, while questioning their patriotism. Reid has brought back to the Senate that exact same McCarthy style of six decades ago — and trumped it.

During the 2012 presidential campaign, Reid slandered candidate Mitt Romney with the unsubstantiated and later-refuted charge that Romney was a tax cheat. “The word’s out that he [Romney] hasn’t paid any taxes for ten years,” Reid said.

Later, when asked for proof, Reid offered a pathetic rejoinder: “I have had a number of people tell me that.” One wonders how many names were on Reid’s McCarthyite “tell” list — were there, as McCarthy used to bluster, 205 names, or perhaps just 57?

When asked again to document the slur, Reid echoed McCarthy perfectly: “The burden should be on him. He’s the one I’ve alleged has not paid any taxes.”

When the Koch brothers donated money that was used for political ads — just as liberal political donors George Soros and the Steyer brothers have done — Reid rushed to the Senate floor to question their patriotism: “These two brothers . . . are about as un-American as anyone that I can imagine.” The charge of being “un-American” is also vintage McCarthyite slander. Read more →

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