Jonah, one understands Richard Cohen’s need to be “evenhanded”, but on the matter of McCarthyite lessons I think Irving Berlin drew attention to a more pertinent one. For a dinner honoring Eisenhower in 1954, Berlin wrote and sang the following (to the tune of “Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army” from White Christmas):
Gee, I Wish I Was Back In The Army
In spite of all the Joe McCarthy noise
I’ll help him shout
To kick the Commies out
Including all the Fifth Amendment boys
But when Joe gets to smearing the army
I think of Nineteen Forty-Two and -Three
If on that vital date
He’d cried “Investigate!”
The Normandy invasion – and the army came too late!
Oh, Gee, I Wish Back In The Army…
To some of us, there’s something just plain nuts about holding Congressional hearings in which you haul up commanders to announce to the world (including the enemy) that they’ll be pulling out this number of troops next spring and that number of troops next fall and redeploying these guys in Baghdad over to Anbar province, and you huff and puff and demand to know why they’re not pulling the Baghdad guys out entirely and why the fall troops can’t leave in spring, etc, etc. Granted the general sclerotic bureaucratization of government, I still think it would strike previous great powers as bizarre that one is obliged to file a flight plan months in advance and then stick to it.