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Since Joseph R. McCarthy first used his political power to ruin the careers of hundreds of men, the term McCarthyism has forever been used to denote someone or something that uses their power to launch a groundless and mean spirited attack on a particular minority group.

Joseph R. McCarthy, possibly the greatest demagogue in the history of America, was also the strongest anti-Communist. In the minds of his friends and foes alike, he was an incredible person whose mere presence could be overpowering. He was a master at playing the press and his name was in the headlines frequently. He also perfected the art of playing on people's fears. His portrayal of Communism as the supreme evil allowed his accusations of "disloyalty" to be incredibly effective.

Of course, there were some things about the flamboyant Senator from Wisconsin that limited his effectiveness. During his storied career, he was never once able to prove an accused Red was guilty. He was a heavy drinker and had a soft spot for horse racing and poker games. Despite these shortcomings, he was able to become a national celebrity.

From his expensive election campaign, to his first speech on Communism, to the Army-McCarthy hearings, to his sudden death, Senator McCarthy has been a controversial figure. Even today, Senator McCarthy remains at the heart of a long-lasting argument about morality and politics. Some people feel that he was a counter-productive demagogue who aimlessly attacked innocent people. Others felt that he was bringing to the attention of America the eminent threat of Communism. He was a cold-hearted man who was a disgrace to the United States, whose anti-Communist fervor was not based upon ideology but upon his need for a headline gaining cause.

Joseph Raymond McCarthy was born in 1908 on a family farm in Outagamie County, Wisconsin. His parents were devout Catholics and told their nine children that "you shall live by the sweat of your brow". He went to a country school until grade eight, and at the age of nineteen became the manager of a grocery store in Manawa. He was a popular person and the store was very profitable. Then it was suggested by some friends that he go to high school, and in one year he crammed a full high school education, while being at the top of the class.

He enrolled in Marquette University in Milwaukee, where he graduated as a lawyer. McCarthy then set up a law practice in Waupaca, a nearby town, and it is reported that he took only four cases in nine months. At that time, he went to work in Shawano for Mike Eberlein. They worked together for three years until Joe won the judgeship for the Tenth District of the Wisconsin Circuit Court. Although he was exempt from the draft because of his public position, in 1942 he entered the Marine Corps. In his two years as a first lieutenant, he went on a number of flying missions, broke his leg on a ship during a party (although he later claimed that his leg carried "ten pounds of shrapnel") and gained a lot of good press along the way. In 1944 he unsuccessfully ran against Alexander Wiley for a senatorial seat from Wisconsin, and began planning to defeat Robert La Follette Jr., whose seat was up for re-election in two years. La Follette was a Republican, and so was McCarthy, so the real race would be for the primary.

Joe's campaign used lots of money, along with a dash of luck. He sent letters and postcards to almost everyone in Wisconsin, made half a dozen speeches a day, and attacked La Follette ruthlessly. Luck happened to be on his side when his opponent chose to sit on his laurels, and only campaigned for a few weeks. McCarthy just barely won the GOP nomination. Interestingly enough, he got the labour vote, which was dominated by Communists. He was very fortunate to sneak by, because La Follette was a popular man.

His Democratic foe was to be Professor Howard McMurray. Joe used his ability to put issues simply, among other things, to beat his opponent by nearly a 2 to 1 ratio. The Senatorial career of Joseph R. McCarthy was on its way.

In his first three years as senator, McCarthy was an everyday senator. He was highly influenced by monetary backing from lobbyists. The most interesting of these was a stint with Pepsi. At the time, sugar was strictly rationed.

The Allied Molasses Company, sugar supplier for Pepsi, somehow got a hold of a million and a half gallons of high-grade sugar-cane syrup, which it refined and sold to Pepsi. For unknown reasons, this sugar slipped past the rations, and the Department of Agriculture demanded that the rations for Allied Molasses be cut back. A $20,000 bribe assured to him by Russell Arundel, Pepsi's Washington lobbyist, inspired McCarthy to help end the sugar rationing six months before originally scheduled, thus nullifying the USDA's demands.

Another early issue for Joe was housing. A friend of his named Harnischferger owned a prefabricated-home manufacturing outfit in Milwaukee. He asked him to go against public housing for veterans and to support instead the inexpensive prefabricated home as an alternative. A $10,000 perk from Lustron, another prefabricated operation, provided additional incentive. He joined the newly created Senate Housing Committee, and he took a nationwide road tour to accentuate his point. He continued in this way until the end of 1949, when he determined that he needed a new subject to put his name in the headlines and to use as a base for his reelection in 1952.

He found his next subject one night in early 1950, at the Colony Restaurant in Washington, D. C. Among his dinner guests was Father Edmund A. Walsh. McCarthy talked with his guests for a while, before bringing up the subject of the need for an issue. The group discarded quite a few before choosing Communism, which was suggested by Walsh, who was an ardent anti-Red. "That's it" McCarthy said. "The government is full of Communists. We can hammer away at them.?

His timing was perfect. The Alger Hiss case was in full swing when he began his campaign, and the convictions and executions of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg took place during his witch-hunting career. Joe's first speech against Communism took place before the Republican Women's Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, on February 9th. His speech started as follows: "I have in my hand a list of 205 cases of individuals who appear to be either card-carrying members or certainly loyal to the Communist Party.? This speech sparked one of many controversies over McCarthy, partially because there was no single reliable copy of the speech. The dispute was over the number that he had stated. At his next speech, in Salt Lake City, he claimed that he had said 57. However, there is now substantial proof that he said 205 in Wheeling.

The next number he came up with was 81, on the senate floor, on the 20th of February. He took six hours, from the late afternoon to just before midnight, explaining in detail a number of cases of supposed Communists in the State Department. But, as pointed ...

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