Texas Sen. Ted Cruz had an interesting answer to a question from Dallas Morning News writer Todd Gillman last week:
Q. Is [former Sen. Joseph] McCarthy someone you admire?
A. I’m not going to engage in the back and forth and the attacks. Several Democrats have demonstrated a willingness to attack me by name. I’m not going to engage in that argument. I’m going to stay focused on what I think Texans want me to stay focused on, which is the substance of the job.
He couldn’t just say “no”?
As Gillman notes in the interview, numerous observers — including fellow senators — have been comparing Sen. Cruz to McCarthy, whose reckless smears and Red-baiting in the 1950s are infamous.
In recent years far-right activists have been defending McCarthy. In fact, former Texas State Board of Education chairman Don McLeroy claimed in 2009 that McCarthy “was basically vindicated.” And sure enough, the state board’s far-right members succeeded in revising the state’s public school curriculum standards for social studies to suggest just that. In fact, a report from the conservative Thomas B. Fordham Institute, which slammed the state’s new standards as a “politicized distortion of history” with “misrepresentations at every turn,” had this to say about the standards’ treatment of McCarthyism:
“It is disingenuously suggested that the House Un-American Activities Committee—and, by extension, McCarthyism—have been vindicated by the Venona decrypts of Soviet espionage activities (which had, in reality, no link to McCarthy’s targets).”
And now Sen. Cruz seems reluctant simply to say that he doesn’t admire the disgraced Joseph McCarthy. Interesting, to say the least.