National Affairs: Hoping Against Hope

Although the great McCarthy spy hunt had produced more headlines than facts, the headlines were big enough and black enough to give the Democratic Party the jitters. For one thing, there was always the awful prospect that McCarthy might turn up one case that he could make stick. If that one turned out to be anything like the case of Alger Hiss, one was all it would take.

In public, the Democrats tried to look only outraged. In private, they also looked worried, and many a politico said gloomily that even if McCarthy found no culprit, he had still hurt the...