Where’s Joe McCarthy, When You Need Him?

Thomas Fleming


March 13, 2018

This piece, on the perfidy of the GOP,  was published in November of 2004.  While no one cares much about George W. Bush and the neoconservative traitors who owned his foreign policy, it may serve as a useful reminder.

For one reason or another, many Americans, disappointed with the Bush administration, are tempted to vote for John Kerry.  Some Democrats who spent the past 80 years waiting for the Revolution to blow over may think theirs is still the party of “Rum, Romanism, and Rebellion,” as it was dubbed in 1884 by a meeting of the Religious Bureau of the Republican National Committee. By the 1960’s, however, the Democrats had become the party not of the three R’s but of the three S’s: Sex, Socialism, and Sedition, the enemies of every decent thing this country had ever done or stood for.  How did the party of William Jennings Bryan and Al Smith turn into the party of Bill Clinton and Barney Frank?

Democrats did not get out in front on the sex issue until fairly late.  In fact, Southern Democrats were, if anything, more conservative than Midwestern Republicans on questions of divorce, pornography, and abortion.  But beginning with the Playboy President John Kennedy, Democrats have embraced sexual liberation, in every form and combination, with a passion.  Of course their speeches still resound with the fine old Democratic rhetoric of Free Speech, Civil Rights, and the 10th Amendment, but these days Free Speech means the rights of pornographers to abuse children; the only important civil right is a mother’s right to have her living baby hacked to death as it is being born, and the rights of the state are reduced to providing fake marriage certificates for homosexuals who want to shack up for three days or more.

Socialism, as every American knows, was embraced by the Democratic Party in 1932, and despite a few dissident voices in the South, the Party has not looked back since FDR won reelection in 1936.  With the partial exception of Bill Clinton, each Democratic administration has advanced the revolutionary banner, and although neoconservatives would like us to look back nostalgically at Harry Truman, FDR’s Vice President was nothing better than a coarse-mannered machine politician, who defended Alger Hiss.

But the Democratic Party’s protection of treason and sedition did not begin with the employment of Alger Hiss, Harry Dexter White, and other known Communists and subversives.  Throughout World War II, the President had been protecting communists in America as part of his constructive engagement with Stalin.  But before Stalin, there was Churchill, and, partly as a result of FDR’s special relationship with Churchill, British agents were able to do as they pleased in the United States.  Under British influence, Hollywood began cranking out films celebrating gallant England’s heroic defense; some British agents assassinated their German counterparts; others kept tabs on influential American political figures who opposed American entrance into the war.  Senator Arthur Vandenburg, among the most prominent isolationists, was set up with a girlfriend and then blackmailed by the British.

Far from blaming perfidious Albion for these activities, I salute the bravery and resourcefulness of patriotic Englishmen who helped to drag a reluctant America into the war.  But both interventionists and isolationists should acknowledge that it was a mistake bordering on treason to allow foreign agents to ply their trade within the United States.

After the war, Democrats gave up their bellicosity and began slowly evolving into the party of appeasement.  In some cases, the reason was simple: an affection for socialism in all its forms and a blind refusal to regard the USSR as a real enemy.  In other cases, it was a naïve pacifism, fueled in part by the unnecessary bellicosity of liberal imperialists such as Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, and their whiz-kid advisors who thought they could reprogram the world.  By 1972 the imperialists had ceded control of the party to the appeasers, and ever since the American people have quite correctly regarded the Democratic Party as incapable of defending the interests or security of the American people.  On the one occasion in over thirty years that Democrats have gone to war—Mad Albright’s illegal bombing of the civilian population of Yugoslavia—they picked the wrong side.  American money was spent and American lives risked to put Islamic Albanian terrorists—the allies of Osama bin Laden—into power in Kosovo.

Small wonder that many patriotic Americans, who think that the Bush administration has simultaneously botched the “War on Terrorism” and the economy, are refusing to support the party of John Kerry.  What is Kerry, if not a study in deceit: a "Catholic" who supports infanticide and keeps mum on the subject of homosexual “marriage,” a soldier who returned from Vietnam and denounced his comrades-in-arms for political gain; a senator who voted for the Iraq War and yet reserves the right to attack the war without every changing his position.  So far from voting for such a representative of such a party, I would not let him enter my house.

Then why not swallow hard and vote to give President Bush four more years?  He is no conservative, but the Republican Party has never been the conservative party that some of its members have wanted to believe in.  Of its presidential candidates since the election of 1940, only two would qualify as to any extent conservative by a reasonable definition: Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan.  Wilkie and Dewey were clones of FDR; Eisenhower had no discernible political ideology.  Russell Kirk’s famous response to the Birchers—Ike’s not a Communist, he’s a golfer—comes close to defining the prince of managers, whether as general or as statesman.  Nixon never claimed to be a conservative, and said, when a small group of us had dinner with him, that the only reason conservatives ever supported him was his prosecution of Alger Hiss.

Despite their lack of  principle and incoherence, Republican presidential candidates have typically represented the lesser of two evils.  On economic matters, Republicans have been uniformly better than their rivals.  Where the Democrats have always been good at spending money, Republicans have usually spent their lives making money, which is a far more difficult business.  Even when Republicans engage in deficit-spending, it is not out of a desire to extend the socialist state.  Republican presidents are typically driven to extravagance by a Democratic Congress, by political necessity, or by a mistaken belief that “deficits don’t matter.”  Yes, it is true that the Republican Party’s free trade ideology is destroying our manufacturing base, but the Democratic Party is in the grips of exactly the same ideology—if somewhat different lobbyists.  The same might be said of the two parties’ actual positions on immigration, as well as on most social and cultural issues.  There is hardly George Wallace’s dime’s worth of difference between them, and a dime does not buy what it did 35 years ago.  It was not, after all, a Democratic NEH chairman who wrote a pornographic lesbian novel: it was Lyn Cheney, the wife of the current vice president.  Mrs. Cheney, who sold herself to the neoconservatives in her first year at the NEH, is just smart enough to block the republication of Sisters, but not smart enough not to have written it.

And yet for all the cowardice, vice, corruption, and lack of principle among Republican leaders, the Republican Party continues to represent the more nearly normal elements of American society, and, despite the trade policies that are throwing Americans out of work and the Iraq War that was apparently engaged without sufficient cause and continues to be fought without conspicuous success, I would be tempted to vote for George W. Bush:  Kerry and Bush are both spoiled Yalies, but Bush’s bubba persona, whether real or feigned, is less hard to take than a stuck-up prig who talks through his nose down to ordinary Americans.

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming

Thomas Fleming is president of the Fleming Foundation. He is the author of six books, including The Morality of Everyday Life and The Politics of Human Nature, as well as many articles and columns for newspapers, magazines,and learned journals. He holds a Ph.D. in Classics from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. in Greek from the College of Charleston. He served as editor of Chronicles: a Magazine of American Culture from 1984 to 2015 and president of The Rockford Institute from 1997-2014. In a previous life he taught classics at several colleges and served as a school headmaster in South Carolina