Getting Nasty

How to Spread a Smear The bickering on Capitol Hill takes a vicious turn

"Have you no sense of decency, sir?" That was the question Army counsel Joseph Welch asked Joseph McCarthy 35 years ago when the Senator ruined the lives of those who did not agree with him by impugning their character and patriotism. The same question could be posed to Republican National Committee chairman Lee Atwater, his communications director Mark Goodin and Congressman Newt Gingrich.

Acting directly or through subordinates, this trio last week worked to spread a long-standing unsubstantiated rumor designed to humiliate new House Speaker Thomas Foley. Just as Foley was poised to take the gavel from departing Speaker Jim Wright's...

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