In the spring of 1954, McCarthy picked a fight with the U.S. Army, charging lax security at a top-secret army facility. The army responded that the senator had sought preferential treatment for a recently drafted subcommittee aide. Amidst this controversy, McCarthy temporarily stepped down as chairman for the duration of the three-month nationally televised spectacle known to history as the Army-McCarthy hearings.
The army hired Boston lawyer Joseph Welch to make its case. At a session on June 9, 1954, McCarthy charged that one of Welch’s attorneys had ties to a Communist organization. As an amazed television audience looked on, Welch responded with the immortal lines that ultimately ended McCarthy’s career: “Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness.” When McCarthy tried to continue his attack, Welch angrily interrupted, “Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency?”
Overnight, McCarthy’s immense national popularity evaporated. Censured by his Senate colleagues, ostracized by his party, and ignored by the press, McCarthy died three years later, 48 years old and a broken man.
Back when Joe McCarthy was destroying innocent people, he was brought down by Joseph Welch, a Boston attorney retained by the Army to defend military members who had been attacked by McCarthy.
If you have not read the statement by Ambassador Marie Yavonovich to the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, here it is. Read it. This statement by a dedicated, patriotic, professional public servant of unquestionable integrity just may be today’s McCarthy/Welch moment. But I doubt it. Today’s Republican Party has no shame, no sense of decency.
More State Department people will testify next week.
Secty of State Mike Pompeo has ordered State officials not to obey subpoenas and not to testify. Ambassador Yavonovich ignored Pompeo. Here’s what bothers me most about Pompeo: He graduated first in his class from the US Military Academy (West Point) where the cadet honor code states: “A cadet will not lie, cheat, steal, or tolerate those who do.” Pompeo needs to turn in his West Point class ring.