Monday, August 20, 2018


At first glance, it seems odd that the president tweeted this yesterday:

Trump's early mentor Roy Cohn was McCarthy's chief counsel. Trump's ex-advisor Steve Bannon has defended McCarthy, as has another advisor, Ann Coulter, who praises him highly. And as Politico's Michael Kruse notes, Trump has quite a bit in common with McCarthy:
McCarthy, after all, was “an essentially destructive force,” according to biographer Richard H. Rovere. He was “a chronic opportunist.” He was “a political speculator.” He was “a Republican who had started as a Democrat.” He was “a fertile innovator, a first-rate organizer and galvanizer of mobs, a skilled manipulator of public opinion, and something like a genius at that essential American strategy: publicity.” He was “a vulgarian.” He was “a man with an almost aesthetic preference for untruth.” He “faked it all and could not understand anyone who didn’t.” He “made sages of screwballs and accused wise men of being fools.” He was “the first American ever to be actively hated and feared by foreigners in large numbers.” He “favored the third person.”
But how much of this do you believe Trump knows? Do you think he could pass even a basic quiz on McCarthy? Do you think he could name McCarthy's state, or his party, or even the approximate years McCarthy served in the Senate? Do you think he could describe what McCarthy did, whom he accused, or who ultimately challenged him?

To Trump, McCarthy is a brand. He's the gold standard if you want to drop the name of a political persecutor. Trump doesn't know any more about Joe McCarthy than he does about George Patton and Douglas MacArthur, generals whose names he also likes to drop. Trump just knows that they're the ultimate generals. If they were jewelry stores, they'd be Tiffany. If they were cars, they'd be Rolls-Royce. If they were d├ęcor accents, they'd be large amounts of gold.

So don't read too much into the McCarthy tweet. Trump has only the most primitive idea of what he's saying.

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