McCarthyism Returns to American Politics

McCarthyism Returns to American Politics

© David Burton 2018


     Early in September this year, Democrats alerted the FBI to an allegation of decades-old sexual-misconduct against President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

     “Two officials briefed on the letter’s contents told the New York Times the allegations relate to possible sexual misconduct between Kavanaugh and an unidentified woman when they were both in high school.” (Ref. 1) In other words, this supposed event took place more than 30 years ago, when both Kavanaugh and his accuser were high school teen agers. Kavanaugh’s accuser has since identified herself as Christine Blasey Ford, now 51 and a clinical psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California.

     Kavanaugh, now 53 and a federal appeals judge in Washington, emphatically denied the allegation.

     Kavanaugh has stated, “I categorically and unequivocally deny this allegation. I did not do this back in high school or at any time,” (Ref. 2) So here we have another “she said – he said” situation. But, does the truth of what actually happened 3 plus decades ago have any real significance in today determining whether or not Kavanaugh is qualified to be appointed a justice on the Supreme Court? Even if the allegation is true, it is totally irrelevant! The alleged behavior of Kavanaugh as a possibly inebriated teenager tells us absolutely nothing about his character today!

     The Kavanaugh hearings should be addressing only one set of issues: Is Brett Kavanaugh qualified to be a Justice on the United States Supreme Court? Does his judicial record show that he makes good judicial decisions? Does he make his decisions based upon the Constitution of the United States? Does he make decisions based upon the laws enacted by Congress and allowed under our Constitution, rather than making judicial law on his own? Do his decisions adhere to past legal precedents? “He said – she said” accusations of alleged behavior that took place more than 3 decades previous, when kavanaugh was a teenager, are irrelevant, unless supported by evidence of similar ongoing misconduct throughout the years.

     In the case of Clarence Thomas and his accuser, Anita Hill, Thomas’s purported misbehavior occurred when Thomas was well along in his legal career and not in pre-college school days. The charges of sexual misconduct on Thomas’s part were eventually ignored and he serves today on the Supreme Court. Ah, but today, Kavanaugh is the nominee of a Republican president and that president is Donald Trump – to many that should constitute automatic disqualification. And to justify Kavanaugh’s disqualification, any charge, no matter how old or how irrelevant, will do.

     In another example of mob rule, the real issues are being ignored, in large part, as a result of the “#MeToo” movement against sexual harassment. In today’s environment, “the #MeToo movement has promoted recklessness, where to accuse is to convict – without due process, without corroborating evidence, and with an utter lack of context. It would be beyond ironic if that lynch mob approach, in this nation of laws, were to derail a nomination to our highest court.” (Ref. 3)

     Even if Kavanaugh actually is guilty of the nearly 4-decades old charge against him, what relevance does it have to his current confirmation hearing? Let’s be honest: How many of us committed improprieties, technically broke the law, and were involved in misdeeds when we were teenagers and younger? Are there any among us who can honestly answer that they never did anything wrong in their youth? Anyone who claims to never have committed a misdeed in his life should immediately be elevated to sainthood! Do childhood misdeeds mean continual punishment for the rest of one’s life? Let’s be honest – many teenagers do get drunk and do stupid things. “They drink, they find a quiet spot, and they engage in the amateur fumblings of young lust. {Often} lines get crossed. People make mistakes.” (Ref. 4) This doesn’t qualify them as bad people for the rest of their lives. Do we really want to judge people by their worst moments as teenagers? If so, how many of us would later qualify for library cards, mortgages, jobs, security clearances, public offices, etc.?

     On a personal basis, let me confess to committing the following evil deeds. When I was about 6 or 7, I, and a few of my boyhood friends, each stole a candy bar in a local convenience store. Later, in the first car that I could afford to buy – an English sports car – I broke the law by testing out my new set of wheels at speeds exceeding 100 miles per hour on the Massachusetts Turnpike. A bit later, during a squash match with a fellow female worker, I actually patted her on her behind with my squash racquet after she had made a great shot against me. Mea culpa! I did all of these and I’m sure even more that I don’t recall at the moment. Should these missteps have disqualified me from all future achievements? Should my security clearances been immediately revoked? Should I have been fired from whatever job I was holding when my “crimes” were disclosed? Should my wife have divorced me and should my children have disowned me? More recently, my granddaughter, when she was about 4 or 5 years old, bit a boy at her child care. Will this event come back to haunt her later in life when she runs for president or seeks appointment to the Supreme Court? Will some unnamed boy come forth in another 4 or 5 decades to accuse her of violently assaulting him? To my knowledge, in the intervening 6 or 7 years since her “unprovoked” attack, she has not been accused of biting anyone else. She has apparently been rehabilitated and has become a model citizen.

     The attacks on Kavanaugh have largely been off the mark and lack relevance in failing to stick to the objectives of determining qualification and competence. Such improper action harks back to a dark period in American history, the period of McCarthyism.

     McCarthyism is the practice of making accusations without proper regard for evidence.[5] The term refers to U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy and has its origins in the period in the United States known as the Second Red Scare, lasting from the late 1940s through the 1950s. It was characterized by heightened political repression as well as an alleged campaign spreading fear of Communist influence on American institutions and of espionage by Soviet agents.
     What would become known as the McCarthy era began before McCarthy's term in 1953. In a speech in May 1951, McCarthy presented a list of members of the Communist Party working in the State Department, which attracted the press' attention. The term “McCarthyism” has taken on a broader meaning, describing the excesses of similar efforts. The term is also now used more generally to describe reckless, unsubstantiated accusations, as well as demagogic attacks on the character or patriotism of political adversaries. With the vicious attacks and irrelevant accusation being hurled at Brett Kavanaugh, one sees a recurrence of the excesses of the supposedly dead “McCarthyism”.
     During the McCarthy era, hundreds of Americans were accused of being communists or communist sympathizers. Suspicions were often given credence despite inconclusive or questionable evidence, and the level of threat posed by a person's real or supposed leftist associations or beliefs was often exaggerated, primarily for political gain. Many people suffered loss of employment or destruction of their careers; some even suffered imprisonment. Most of these punishments came about through trial verdicts that were later overturned, laws that were later declared unconstitutional, dismissals for reasons later declared illegal or actionable, or extra-legal procedures that came into general disrepute.

     Extremely late in the game, the Democrats have called for a full FBI investigation of the sexual misconduct allegation against Brett Kavanaugh before the Senate Judiciary Committee votes on Kavanaugh's nomination. Excuse me, but when does the FBI investigate decades old charge of possible sexual misconduct? That's the job of local law enforcement! On top of that, the statute of limitations has expired. If Kavanaugh were to be found to have done what he is accused of, the FBI could not take him to court. After nearly 40 years, what accurate evidence could the FBI gather? Could a propsective witness remember what happend 36 years ago, on a given date at a given time? Could you or I remember where we where and what we on 21 September 1972 at 11:00 o'clock at night? Simply put, this is not a role for the FBI. They have other more important work to do. Regarding the allegations against Kavanaugh, The FBI had already stated that, "the allegation does not involve any potential federal crime." "The FBI does not make any judgment about the credibility or significance of any allegation," "The purpose of a background investigation is to determine whether the nominee could pose a risk to the national security of the United States. The allegation does not involve any potential federal crime. The FBI's role in such matters is to provide information for the use of the decision makers." (Ref. 6) But, that's not enough for Kavanaigh's Democratic critics - they want blood! And, let's not forget, the Senate Judiciary Committee has its own investigation resources and subpoena powers, and they could look into the veracity of the charges on their own.

     In truth, the real objective of the Democrats is to delay the nomination process until after the mid-term elections. They hope to regain control of Congress, scuttle the Kavanaugh nomination, and then get their own liberal nominee appointed to the Supreme Court in place of Kavanaugh. The tactics employed by Democrats in fighting the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court smack of resurrected McCarthyism. Unfounded accusations, irrelevant issues, attempts to elicit implications of guilt, etc. have been part and parcel of the actions of the Democrats attempting to derail Kavanaugh’s appointment. The actions of these Democratic demagogues bring back the bitter memories of Joseph McCarthy badgering the victims of his witch hunt some six-plus decades ago.


  1. Brett Kavanaugh reportedly accused of sexual misconduct in letter flagged to the FBI by Democrats,
    Chris Sommerfeldt, Daily News, 13 September 2018.
  2. Woman Accusing Kavanaugh Of Sexual Misconduct Comes Forward, 5NEWS WEB STAFF,,
    16 September 2018/.
  3. Hearing Monday on Kavanaugh Claims, Jaclyn Cashman, Boston Herald, Page 4, 19 September 2018.
  4. No statute of limitations on stupidity?, Michael Graham, Boston Herald, Page 17, 19 September 2018.
  5. McCarthyism,, Accessed 17 September 2018.
  6. Democrats Want FBI To Investigate Kavanaugh Allegations. It Likely Won't, Tamara Keith,
    National Public Radio, Inc. [US], 18 September 2018.

  21 September 2018 {Article 335; Politics_39}    
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