McCarthys still exist on the airwaves
April, 1 2006
TIM RUTTEN'S review of Tom Wicker's new biography of Sen. Joe McCarthy ["McCarthy's Very American Career," March 29] was excellent until the overly optimistic last sentence: "We're less likely to share [the paranoid political style] today, as we've all learned a great deal more about the paranoids' continuing capacity to make all of us suffer for their delusions."
McCarthy's paranoid style lives on today in Bill O'Reilly, Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Michael Savage and the other heroes of talk radio, especially in their ceaseless invention of horrible threats to their listeners' values (like O'Reilly's trumped-up "war on Christmas") and their insistence that anyone who disagrees with them is not merely wrong but must be pushing some sinister hidden agenda. And the fact that they are able to use the word "liberal" as a damning epithet for anyone they don't like, the way McCarthy used the word "Communist," just shows how successful they and the people who bankroll their shows and the conservative movement as a whole have been in moving America's discourse seemingly permanently to the right.
Somewhere there's a circle of the inferno in which Joe McCarthy is laughing his head off and savoring his sweet revenge against the liberals and true conservatives who disgraced him.
MARK GABRISH CONLAN
Mark, I couldn't agree more. And I just wish I could be down there in that inferno and see O'Reilly's face when he gets there (the sooner, the better). Or Hannity's. Or Rush's. Maybe they'll videotape it for future generations of angels to enjoy.
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