Eisenhower and the American Crusades

By Herbert S. Parmet | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 30
The Crises of 1954

T HE NIXON-ROGERS MEETING with Senator McCarthy at Key Biscayne was of such limited value that the differences between the Administration and the Senator from Wisconsin moved toward the inevitable open clash. His continuing prestige among influential Republicans, along with an ability to draw financial support from affluent contributors, certainly encouraged his activities. Of great advantage, of course, were the conditions created by popular fears of communism that gave virtually any anti-Red crusader significant advantages. Political death was feared by any public figure accused of "softness" toward the enemies of "free world" values. A race had already begun for credit as author of legislation to outlaw the Communist party, with liberals like Hubert H. Humphrey seeking to place themselves on the "right" side of the issue while secure anti-Reds, most prominently J. Edgar Hoover and Attorney General Brownell, pointed out the dangers of driving the party underground. In the House, Harley O. Staggers of West Virginia submitted a bill urging the establishment of a commission to study the question of making such membership illegal.1 When McCarthy's subcommittee applied for new appropriations in January, it received the support of every Senator except J. William Fulbright of Arkansas.

While people like C. D. Jackson and Masterson and Rumbough were urging the President to take the offensive against McCarthy, the President moved, on December 3, to initiate an investigation of allegations made about the country's most respected nuclear physicist, J. Robert Oppenheimer. The man who had only recently appeared before the President at a National Security Council meeting to state his position on

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