There are signs that Senator McCarthy is slipping. One holds one’s breath, for he has stormed back into the headlines to win new triumphs before. But whether he stays or goes it is important to define the social and political roots of “McCarthyism” to see how closely the “ism” is linked to the man. By now, one would expect to find many authoritative interpretations of the political tendency he personifies. Yet such are the passions McCarthy arouses that most discussions of him amount to little more than manifestos of denunciation or documented exposes. The number of serious political analyses of the man, his mass support and the national mood he expresses, remains surprisingly small.
The very terms in which McCarthy is castigated imply certain “theories” about him. Those who view him primarily in the perspective of the American political tradition assimilate his career to that of other specimens of demagogus Americanus
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