Eric Alterman: Altercation: It cannot possibly be a coincidence that William Kristol has chosen to defend President Bush and his slacker war against terrorism by impugning Richard Gephardt with the same phraseology that his father used half a century ago to defend Joe McCarthy. In this morning’s Washington Post, Kristol writes:
But the American people, whatever their doubts about aspects of Bush’s foreign policy, know that Bush is serious about fighting terrorists and terrorist states that mean America harm. About Bush’s Democratic critics, they know no such thing.
In the journal Commentary in 1952, during the McCarthy era, Irving Kristol wrote,
For there is one thing that the American people know about Senator McCarthy; he, like them, is unequivocally anti-Communist. About the spokesman for American liberalism, they feel they know no such thing. This is truly amazing. It explicitly links the Neocons’ exploitation of the threat of terrorism to that no-good drunken bum, Joe McCarthy, and his use of the charge of “Commie” to ruin lives on a whim through a deliberately stoked mass hysteria. I think there is a great deal of this going on right now, but even I would have been reluctant to go so far. But there it is. The charge worked for McCarthy — at least for a while — and Kristol now seems certain it will work for his team as well. Just one question: Have they no shame? At long last, have they no sense of decency left?