If McCarthyism means the vicious and unfair smearing of somebody in public life, especially via toxic labels, then the most common refuge of a real McCarthyite is to throw around allegations of McCarthyism. With MSNBC's Chris Matthews and Missouri's Democratic U.S. Senator-by-Luck Claire McCaskill both acting the part of Joe McCarthy against freshman Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, conservative leaders are stepping up to the plate to defend the brilliant and principled rising star. Reported CNS: "'Rather than whispering condemnation off the record to reporters, GOP senators should follow his lead,' said ForAmerica Chairman Brent Bozell." And, from Frank Cannon of the American Principles Project: "We are pleased he is shaking up Washington and doing exactly what the people of Texas elected him to do.”
National Review Online's editors also chimed in, directly attacking Matthew's vile charges of "McCarthyism":
Senator Cruz has ably and aggressively executed his duty as a United States senator to advise on and consent to a nominee to the momentous post of civilian head of the United States military. He has not, as Senator McCarthy was reputed to have done, slandered an honorable man by cavalierly associating him with an odious and politically radioactive “ism.” But we can think of some Senate Democrats and cable-TV hosts who have.
To which all of us ought to offer a hearty "Amen." Sen. Cruz, as a good litigator would, actually did his homework and subjected Defense Secretary nominee to a tough, thorough, well-thought-out series of questions. In no way did he impugn Hagel's motives or patriotism, although he rightly raised questions -- amply backed by his evidence -- about Hagel's judgment. Other Republican senators who carped about Cruz should instead learn from his tough but fair approach. All too often, senators who are supposed to be questioning witnesses bloviate on and on, failing either to get to their own point or to elicit useful answers from the witnesses. Cruz, on the other hand, was incisive and effective. Good for him. And good for conservative leaders outside the Senate for standing up for Cruz when few of Cruz' own colleagues didn't have the good sense to do so.