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Monday, March 08, 2010

March 30, 1950

Sixty years ago this month, President Harry S. Truman gave a news conference in Key West, FL:
Q. Mr. President, do you think Senator McCarthy is getting anywhere in his attempt to win the case against the State Department?

The President. What’s that?

Q. Do you think that Senator McCarthy can show any disloyalty exists in the State Department?

The President. I think the greatest asset that the Kremlin has is Senator McCarthy.

Q. Would you care to elaborate on that?

The President. I don’t think it needs any elaboration—I don’t think it needs any elaboration.

[Pandemonium breaks out as the press scrambles to get this story. We rejoin the press conference a few moments later:]

The President: And then, for political background, the Republicans have been trying vainly to find an issue on which to make a bid for the control of the Congress for next year. They tried “statism.” They tried “welfare state.” They tried “socialism.” And there are a certain number of members of the Republican Party who are trying to dig up that old malodorous dead horse called “isolationism.” And in order to do that, they are perfectly willing to sabotage the bipartisan foreign policy of the United States. And this fiasco which has been going on in the Senate is the very best asset that the Kremlin could have in the operation of the cold war. And that is what I mean when I say that McCarthy’s antics are the best asset that the Kremlin can have. [...]

The President. Anything in the domestic line. I will meet them on any subject they want, but to try to sabotage the foreign policy of the United States, in the face of the situation with which we are faced, is just as bad as trying to cut the Army in time of war.

Q. On that question we were just kidding.

The President. And that gave me a chance to give you an answer. To try to sabotage the foreign policy of the United States is just as bad in this cold war as it would be to shoot our soldiers in the back in a hot war.

I am fed up with what is going on, and I am giving you the facts as I see them.

Q. Mr. President, do you consider the Republican Party as a party?

The President. The policy of the Republican Party has endorsed the antics of Mr. McCarthy.
If the events of the last year give Barack Obama a spine, the Republicans will have done this country a great favor.  You don't defeat this folks by calling them the loyal opposition.  You defeat them by telling the truth, by disclosing the motives of those who bankroll them, and by explaining exactly how Republicans are the greatest weapons of America's enemies.

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