Army-McCarthy and Impeachment
Ben Stein
by
Joe McCarthy and Roy Cohn (Wikimedia Commons)

Saturday

This has been a great week for me. Last Thursday, The American Spectator presented me with the Baron Von Kannon Service to the Cause Award. It was at a dinner at the Trump Hotel, and there were about 400 men and women applauding and cheering me on with three standing ovations. It was paradise. I was introduced by Wlady, and Bob was standing there beaming. God, I love the Spectator!

Always loyal. Always open to the best ideas. The Spectator is heaven to me, and I hope and pray that TAS will be there in the afterlife.

But now I am back in LA, and I awakened on Wednesday with a shock. The “impeachment hearings” have begun, and they cast me back about 65 years, when I was a fourth grader at Parkside Elementary School in Silver Spring, Maryland. It was a prewar structure on a hillside overlooking Sligo Creek Park, a truly beautiful park on Sligo Creek with maples and sycamores and beech trees. Mostly maples.

My parents had just built a perfect midcentury modern on Harvey Road a short walk away from Parkside, with a smashing view of the park and beyond it, the creek, which got swollen in the fall and spring. Our house was hedged in the back by a dense stand of oaks, poplars, and maples. The stand of trees was so thick that I could not see through them to see which was our house as I walked home from Parkside. But in the year 1954, I could always tell which was 9342 Harvey Road, our house, because my mother was watching CBS News coverage of the Army–McCarthy hearings and I could hear Joe McCarthy’s booming voice like a homing beacon.

“Point of order,” he would say over and over. Or “point of personal privilege.” The Chair of the Committee would always recognize him. (Unlike that creep who presides over the witch hunt now going on, “Shifty Schiff,” who refuses to let GOP congresswomen ask questions. Some idea of hearings, right? By the way, what’s with Schiff’s eyes? He looks like he’s being strangled all the time. Maybe his underwear is too tight.)

Anyway, what are the hearings about? They prove nothing. That whimpering baby who was U.S. ambassador to Ukraine has very little to say about any possible wrongdoing by Trump. Why is she even there? Why is anyone there except to soil Trump’s good name over nothing?

Anyway, that’s not my point, which is this: The Army–McCarthy hearings were spearheaded by super-smart cunning counselor Joseph Welch. The GOP has no one like him. He was a Democrat anyway. Luckily for us, the Dems don’t either. Our side was “led,” so to speak, by Roy Cohn, a super-smart guy, but one who could not hold a candle to Welch.

But Sen. McCarthy’s hearings were about something substantial. Was McCarthy trying to bludgeon the Army to provide special treatment for Cohn’s close friend, G. David Schine? Was McCarthy a wild bull in a china shop? Was McCarthy a menace to freedom? Maybe yes. Maybe no. But certainly something was going on.

Now we have hearings about essentially gossip. And the local ABC news led the 11 p.m. news with an amateur video of a dog being thrown across the room at a veterinarian’s shop. That shows much we have deteriorated in the last 65 years.

The Richard Nixon Watergate hearings were about whether RN had obstructed justice in some way. It had always seemed peculiar to me because whatever RN did or did not do, it was small change compared with his accomplishments. Why impeach Churchill over a broken shoelace? That was how it seemed to me. And the Clinton hearings were also strange. Here was a guy who clearly did not belong in the Oval Office being cheered to the rafters for having a college girl give him oral sex in the same spot where Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation.

(I want to add that Bill Clinton in many other respects was a fine president. He gave us the best fiscal policy we have had since Dwight Eisenhower. And by the way, can you even imagine Eisenhower doing any of the things that Clinton was accused of doing with Monica? Can you even imagine it?)

Time passes at an almost unbelievable pace. I can recall my mother listening to the Army–McCarthy hearings like it was yesterday. But it wasn’t yesterday. It was 65 years ago. I was a small child then. Now I am on Medicare and very glad to have it. Time is precious. Treat it as such. Respect time. Respect your memories of your father and mother. And your sister, who also well recalls our beloved mother gardening while listening to McCarthy and Welch duking it out a few miles away at the Capitol.

Those days will never come again. Pay attention to them. Pay homage to your dear parents. And your dear sister and your dear wife and child. The “impeachment” hearings are a nightmare. But they are also a clock. Listen to it ticking and pay attention. Time’s a-wasting, and while Schiff is a joke, time isn’t.

Ben Stein
Ben Stein
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Ben Stein is a writer, actor, economist, and lawyer living in Beverly Hills and Malibu. He writes “Ben Stein’s Diary” for every issue of The American Spectator.
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