Or perhaps more to the point, when going into a battle of wits, make sure you’re armed. Former Hillary Clinton spokesperson and current MSNBC analyst Karen Finney didn’t prepare herself to be challenged when comparing Ted Cruz to Joe McCarthy on last night’s Hugh Hewitt show, revealing that she doesn’t know much about either. Hugh started grilling Finney about Communist infiltration in the 1930s and 1940s in response to her non-sequitur about McCarthy just to see if she had any understanding at all about the issue — and Finney hung up rather than continue flailing or concede her ignorance:
Hewitt welcomed Finney with a clip of her on MSNBC comparing Ted Cruz‘s “paranoia” and “fear-stoking” to Joe McCarthy. Hewitt immediately asked Finney about actual communist infiltration of the government. She dismissed the “hysteria” of the time, but Hewitt didn’t let her off easy there. He said, “It’s an easy question! Do you think Alger Hiss was a communist?”
Finney insisted it had nothing to do with her point, telling Hewitt she didn’t want to “go down a rabbit hole” with him. She said, “Hugh, I’m not doing this game with you!”
They got into some heated crosstalk, at which point Finney hangs up on Hewitt. As soon as Hewitt realized what she’s done, he immediately burst into laughter and mocked her for not being able to “handle a little tiny question.”
Glenn Thrush at Politico has a longer part of the transcript. Basically, Hugh exposed Finney as an intellectual poseur, an “analyst” who tosses around accusations about which she knows next to nothing. The Left has used “McCarthyism” as an epithet for so long that some just use it to sound smarter than they are. Hint to Finney: McCarthyism has nothing to do with opposition to domestic health-care policies or to budget fights.
John Fund notes that Finney should have paid some attention to her MSNBC colleague Chris Matthews on the futility of this particular argument:
Back in 1996, the Hiss case forced President Clinton to withdraw his candidate to become the country’s top spymaster at the CIA. Tony Lake, who then directed the National Security Council, told NBC News that the evidence against Alger Hiss was “inconclusive.” His office then refused to make any other comment on the issue.
After a firestorm of protest in which such liberal notables as Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan said it was clear Hiss had been guilty, Lake’s nomination for CIA director was withdrawn. Even a liberal observer such as Chris Matthews (now with MSNBC) said it was astonishing that anyone would take the view that Hiss, who was convicted on two counts of perjury because the statute of limitation on espionage had expired, could be viewed as anything less than guilty. Matthews points out that John F. Kennedy, then a young congressman, was convinced of Hiss’s guilt. “This is not a case of liberal vs. conservative,” Matthews concluded. “It is a matter of clearing up Tony Lake’s sense of history.”
Apparently, we still have to clear up the historical perspective that some of today’s liberals have about the Cold War and the seeming inability some of them have to acknowledge that there were Communists in government back then — and that that fact is distinct from Joe McCarthy’s endlessly cited excesses.
Exactly. Perhaps they could also learn to be a little more careful with their demagoguery, too. Because tossing around charges of McCarthyism in the manner Finney did about Cruz looks a lot more like the kind of thing McCarthy did than anything Cruz has done since arriving in Washington.