• Share
  • Read Later

(See Cover) By the evening of Thursday, Feb. 25, 1954, Senator Joe McCarthy, after a fortnight of mounting frenzy, had built the smallest of molehills into one of the most devastating political volcanoes that ever poured the lava of conflict and the ash of dismay over Washington. Joe, the stoker, was still disorganized but quick-witted, charging in and out of his Senate office, snatching up telephones, rushing to the Senate floor to answer quorum calls, dictating statements to reporters. As he dashed about, his office staff lost track, believed a rumor that he had emplaned for New York. Then Joe stomped in from the corridor, stuffed a briefcase, said "Come on" to a waiting reporter and hurried out. Behind them came a job seeker from Wisconsin, carrying the briefcase.

Home from the Hill. The three got into the Senator's air-conditioned Cadillac (a wedding gift from Texas admirers) and started for Joe's new home (bought by his mother-in-law ) a few blocks away. The Senator had not yet figured out the best way to drive to his house, and he had to circle a block before he found the alley to the back door. He stumbled up the four brick steps, found a key, entered, groped for a light switch. In the dark, the Wisconsin job seeker banged into the door.

The kitchen was bright with the newest gadgets, and brighter still for a load of groceries that Jean McCarthy, his adoring wife, had ordered by long distance from her hospital bed in New York. Joe and the reporter walked through a dining room stacked high with boxes, perhaps 200 of them−wedding presents that the busy McCarthys (married last September have not got around to opening.

In a green living room, still only half-furnished, the Senator sank tiredly into a big red chair, but the time to relax was not yet. He waved toward a television set facing him. As Joe gave directions, the reporter flipped from channel to channel until he found a newscast. Again Joe heard the statement put out a few hours before at the White House by his latest victim. Secretary of the Army Robert Stevens, with the "100% approval" of the President of the U.S. The Senator heard his own brash characterization of the Stevens statement as "completely false." He waved the TV off.

Meanwhile, the job seeker from Wisconsin knew what to do. Digging into the groceries, he started to get dinner. He found some frozen pork chops, which he broiled (he is not looking for a cook's job), a fine Maryland ham, a Wisconsin cheese, some bourbon, some seltzer.

The phone began to ring. Between 7 p.m. and 11 it rang 100 times. The Senator took perhaps one call in ten, some times listening for a moment and then saying. "The Senator is not here." The doorbell began to ring. During the evening, some 20 or 30 people trooped in and out. They did not have appointments: most seemed to have no specific business. They came, as it were, out of the woodwork, as they always come to hover around a man of power. Some got the Senator in a corner and talked earnestly to him. Some wandered into the kitchen and sampled the bourbon. Some just stood around. Between conversations and phone calls, the Senator ate dinner in the kitchen. The broiler of pork chops, having eaten his fill, made a serious pitch for a job, but the Senator promised nothing.

  1. Previous Page
  2. 1
  3. 2
  4. 3
  5. 4
  6. 5
  7. 6
  8. 7
  9. 8
  10. 9