Title: McCarthy and His Enemies
Author: William F. Buckley, Jr,
Buckley, William F. Jr. (1954) and L. Brent Bozell. McCarthy and His Enemies: The Record and its Meaning. Chicago: Regnery
Date Posted: June 17, 2013
This review, “What the McCarthy Method Seeks to Establish,” by William S. Whites is from the New York Times. I have made some editorial changes to update a 60-year-old review.
This is the most extraordinary book yet to come forth [in 1954] in the harsh bibliography, pro and con, of “McCarthyism.” Measured as a literary and polemical effort it is the most striking.
The authors are William F. Buckley Jr.—who achieved a certain prominence with his only other book, God and Man at Yale—and his brother-in-law, L. Brent Bozell, who is a lawyer and has never written a book before. One assumes that Mr. Buckley led this team. They have written their book not as reporters who have followed the blow-by-blow contests, but rather as “historians” who have studied the “historical” documents. One may legitimately doubt their objective approach, however; the authors have consulted with Senator McCarthy, but it is not known that they have consulted with General Marshall or any of the other “enemies” of the title.
Here, at any rate, is proof that it is the young who are infinitely more deadly—in purpose at least—of the species. Essentially what they have attempted is a defense both of Senator McCarthy and “McCarthyism” and an argument, well written in the English language as it is, that will rather stagger those to whom that language has long expressed certain concepts of fair play which Messrs. Buckley and Bozell seem to think either out of date or not viable in a world of great peril. They wish to make that kind of “security” that would astonish and worry traditional Conservatives.
For the kind of “security” here proposed would, in the end, and by its own definition, result in enormous insecurity for every sort of person whose notions might run counter to the youthful Buckley-Bozell political dogmas. The authentic old New Hampshire Republican, Gen. Conrad Snow, and the late isolationist, far right-wing Republican, Seth W. Richardson, who in their times headed, respectively, the State Department and the all-Federal loyalty boards—neither of these, for example, could longer be accepted for public service.
For this sort of man, though of course in no way charged with disloyalty, had in the Buckley-Bozell view an intolerable capacity to make mistakes. Mistakes, in this book, are not tolerable when made by non-McCarthyites. When made by McCarthyites, however, and especially by Mr. McCarthy himself, they call only for a gentle chiding. We are, of course, none of us perfect; and after all, we must forget the end in view—this sort of thing.
The book is divided into three parts. Part One is an attempt to describe how the State Department handled its security between 1945 and 1950. The authors claim that before McCarthy entered the investigative picture, few security risks were weeded out; that after his Wheeling, W. Va., speech, security improved.
Accepting the major premise on which they are writing—that is, for a so-called hard security program—security did indeed improve after those speeches. The difficulty in evaluating the results of this course, however, is one of the fundamental difficulties raised by the whole spirit of the book—namely what price this sort of “hard” security?
Part Two of the book goes over the cases that were involved in the Tydings Investigation.
The inquiry into these cases is not uncritical, but is based on the assumption that not all of these cases needed to be valid to justify the alarms raised by Senator McCarthy. The point urged, in short, was that these alarms were good in themselves and that Mr. McCarthy became a national figure by raising them.
Part Three of the book attempts to prove that “while damage to a reputation may result from McCarthy’s practice of this method, the result would not appear to be part of the method.”
Again the point urged is that the method is not of primary importance so long as it requires, as the authors have found that McCarthy’s first attack on the State Department required, a new and “stern” look by the loyalty-security people themselves.
In each instance what is urged is not only that the end justifies the means, but that a moral end justifies immoral means. “The will to morality,” Nietzsche said, “is absolute immorality.” Weed out—even if the good are weeded out with the evil! Sound the alarm—even if the innocent are intimidated with the corrupt! Use any methods—so long as the security people are forced into a “harder” attitude. That is what it amounts to, and it is not an exaggeration to say that these authors are proposing the acceptance of a standard by which anti-communism would be defined at last by the degree of willingness to proceed in an authoritarian manner.
They find all Federal security program to date far too soft. We must “do away with the formal hearing” for the accused bureaucrat. We must cease making “distinctions” between employees who are undesirable for security or loyalty reasons and employees undesirable for other reasons. “The State Department ought to dismiss the security risk and the ‘policy misfit’ the same way it dismisses an employee who is habitually late for work. And for public consumption the department ought to have a stock phrase covering all separations … The risk should be thrown into a common channel with all other employees about to leave the department for sundry reasons.”
Why? Well, “Conscientious security personnel are more likely to execute a hard security program if everything has been done to lighten the consequences for the separated employee. They feel less tempted to indulge the ‘presumption of innocence’ if they are no longer forced to adjudicate ‘guilt’; and if the public has no longer a reason to regard separation from a sensitive agency as evidence of such an adjudication. On the other hand, the plight of the separated employee is indeed mitigated.”
How many men, being “habitually late to work,” would feel that the position had been “mitigated” by being put into this “common channel” under “a stock phrase covering all separations”? And what about the conscientious security men who no longer have to indulge in a “presumption of innocence” along with no longer having to indulge in the presumption that a man is innocent until he is judged guilty?
Messrs. Buckley and Bozell find applaud the fact that Mr. McCarthy and his followers are seeking to impose what they call a certain “conformity” of thought that, for the time is only directed against “Communist ideas.” (They mention “England’s conformity to parliamentarianism,” by the way, to suggest that enforced conformity is not necessarily a bad thing. There is no suggestion that this equation is intended to be ironic, though parliamentarianism arose precisely in protest to a conformity of thought that gave altogether too much power to a British Royal House.)
At all events, they say that “it is still only Communist ideas that are beyond the pale,” then add: “Some day the patience of America may at last be exhausted and we will strike out against Liberals.” The Liberals, the authors say, are not treacherous like Communists. But they have to be reduced to political impotence because they make mistakes. Senator McCarthy makes mistakes—the authors say so. In the detailed section on the original “cases” before the old Tydings Committee, they criticize Senator McCarthy in some of these cases. Indeed, they find that “some of his specific charges were exaggerated; a few had no apparent foundation whatever.” This judgment does not, however, tend to impeach Mr. McCarthy. The conclusion is that “the nation’s living shame” lies n the fact that the Tydings committee found his accusations “a fraud and a hoax.” For, say Messrs., Buckley and Bozell, the McCarthy campaign forced the State Department to “take a new hard look” at some of the McCarthy “cases” and the upshot was the “separation” of 29 per cent of them through “loyalty or security channels,” because earlier evaluations had not been “stern enough.”
That is, the book’s verdict here is that it is permissible, and even singularly useful, to make attacks against the foreign office of a great anti-Communist power that are “exaggerated” or in some cases actually false if the end result is to cause the dismissal of slightly more than a quarter of those accused.
Thinking along these lines, the authors take up General Marshall. They concede he is no treacherous Communist, and so they give this handsome vindication to the General of the Army and a winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, the recent presentation of which was made disorderly by Communist hoodlums in Oslo:
“Marshall’s loyalty is not doubted in any reasonable quarter. On the other hand, Marshall no longer rides as high as he once did in the esteem of his countrymen … To the extent that McCarthy, through his careful analysis of Marshall’s record, has contributed to cutting Marshall down to size he has performed a valuable service … As regards his imputation of treasonable motives to Marshall, McCarthy deserves to be criticized even if Marshall’s general reputation for loyalty did not suffer. McCarthy’s judgment here was bad.”
General Marshall has been assailed by men with a larger audience than that of Messrs. Buckley and Bozell. One hazard, however, is that not before this has he been patronized from such quarters as these.
So, in sum, what have we here? We have a bald, dedicated apologia for “McCarthyism” made far more adroitly than Senator McCarthy himself could make it, that may well serve to clarify this issue. For the authors, enemies of the enemies of Mr. McCarthy, may have, ironically, done the Senator a disservice. McCarthyism is now on the record for all to see. They have “frozen” McCarthyism on their pages, which is an event that the instinctively fast-moving Senator may one day regret.
 The review appeard April 4, 1954. Mr. White reported on Senator McCarthy and his committee as a member of The Times Washington bureau. He is the author of the book, The Taft Story.