Charles Bednar: Tail-gunner Tom takes to McCarthy tactics
Speaking in support of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act on Dec. 19, Tom McClintock borrowed a page from Republican Sen. Joe McCarthy’s 1950s’ playbook, labeling anyone who disagrees with him a “Marxist”.
Joseph McCarthy was a U.S. senator from 1947 to 1957. In 1950, riding a wave of anti-communist hysteria, McCarthy made repeated but unproven claims that the U.S. government was riddled with Communist sympathizers. His crusade culminated with a series of Senate hearings, at which McCarthy became increasingly bombastic. His belligerent and erratic behavior eventually led the Senate to censure him in 1954.
Following World War II, McCarthy had made claims about his military service that later proved to be false, including his assertion that he had flown 32 missions as a tail-gunner, and had been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross. When he began a political career, he adopted the nickname “Tail-gunner Joe.” McCarthy’s strident personal smears against anyone who opposed him quickly became known as “McCarthyism,” defined as a synonym for demagoguery, baseless defamation, and mudslinging.
Which brings us back to McClintock.
The GOP tax plan passed the House 227-205 (with 13 GOP voting against it), and passed the Senate 51-49 (with one GOP vote against). Independent experts agree the plan will provide windfalls to billionaires like Trump and many in his cabinet, but will provide little relief to the middle class.
A staunch supporter of the billionaire class, McClintock predictably defends the bill. Not surprising, considering the thousands of dollars he has taken from the Koch brothers.
After inventing a couple of hypothetical families who will prosper thanks to the new tax code, and introducing us to a small business that moved production to Ireland to avoid U.S. taxes, McClintock declares that Marxists will claim the new tax code is just trickle-down economics — which, according to McClintock, has always worked.
Marxists? I’m a Democrat, not a Marxist. I’m also a Vietnam-era veteran, and served when the threat of Marxism was very real. And unlike McCarthy, my medals were earned, not invented. I find no evidence that McClintock served, and deeply resent being labeled a Marxist by a privileged rich guy who never spent a day in uniform.
Some pretty smart folks disagree with McClintock about trickle-down economics, including U.C. Berkeley Professor Robert Reich and Nobel Prize Laureate Paul Krugman. Does that make them Marxists?
By channeling Tail-gunner Joe, Tom McClintock has reached a new low.
Charles Bednar lives in Oakhurst.
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