9 – He Was a Friend of Joseph McCarthy
Today, Joseph McCarthy is viewed with disdain as one of America’s most hated senators. But at the height of his power in the 1950s, McCarthy was the most visible public face of anti-communism in the United States. He alleged that communists and Soviet spies had succeeded in infiltrating the American government, film industry, and universities, among other facilities. The term âMcCarthyism’ was given to the process of smearing someone’s name with an accusation of treason without providing evidence.
Like McCarthy and a number of prominent Americans at the time, Kennedy hated Communism and was a fervent supporter of McCarthy. He even persuaded his son Bobby to join McCarthy’s staff in 1953. Kennedy had several things in common with McCarthy beside their shared loathing of communism. Both men were Roosevelt Democrats for example, and Kennedy would invite the Wisconsin Senator for drinks in his Palm Beach house.
McCarthy even dated two of Kennedy’s daughters, Eunice and Patricia, for a brief period and was known to be fond of the bottle. Bobby served McCarthy loyally until he had a personal falling out with Roy Cohn, the chief counsel of the Subcommittee on Investigations, and quit. However, Bobby remained close to McCarthy and defended him in the press. John Kennedy was also a supporter and backed the Communist Control Act, a piece of legislation even more severe than McCarthy had ever suggested.
When John finally ran for president, he claimed to be against McCarthy and his methods and was backed all the way by Joseph. Once the public turned against the Senator, John was in a tough spot because the Democrats voted to censure McCarthy. When one senator tried to get John to sign a statement that condemned McCarthy, Joseph told the man to get lost and to stop trying to âruin’ his son. With his son so close to his ultimate goal, Joseph Kennedy was prepared to do anything.