National Affairs: THE VOYAGE OF PRIVATEER JOE

ON Feb. 9, 1950, an obscure U.S. Senator told a Wheeling (W. Va.) audience that he had a list of 205 Communists employed by the State Department. With that, Joe McCarthy launched one of the most spectacular political voyages in U.S. history. He charged often, proved seldom, never named his 205; in fact, he insisted he had said 57. But, because he had a sensitive issue, he became a big man. His bitterest foes were his best friends; Truman & Co. inflated his sails by exaggerating his importance.

Along his stormy course, Joe McCarthy, a born privateer, converted defeats into victories. When...

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