Hoey’s premonition of McCarthyism


“During the early 1950s [the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations  of the Committee on Government Operations] had been chaired by Senator Clyde Hoey, a mild-mannered Democrat from North Carolina. Under Hoey’s leadership the subcommittee had investigated such bland subjects as… the reorganization of the Bureau of Customs. [Joe] McCarthy, the ranking Republican, had attended fewer than 20 percent of the public hearings.

“Only once did McCarthy get into the flow of action. During a hearing on the sale of government-owned tankers, he pummeled a witness for supposedly having engaged in trade with Red China. ‘You are either… the greatest dope or dupe of all time… or you are making a vast amount of money soaked in American blood.’    The witness was understandably upset. ‘Why don’t you ask questions the way Senator Hoey does? Be a gentleman,’ he pleaded.’

“[After the new Congress was sworn in in 1953] Hoey quickly resigned from the subcommittee. Having worked with Joe in the past, he did ‘not wish to be responsible for what might develop.’ ”

— From “A Conspiracy So Immense: The World of Joe McCarthy” (2005) by David M. Oshinsky

Pictured:  Pinback button from Hoey’s successful campaign for governor in 1936.

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