Max Cleland

Above and Beyond

Sean Wilentz wonders if bin Laden’s death will bring a close to the era of paranoid politics in America.

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Democratic hero Max Cleland is disinvited from an Obama event because he's now a lobbyist. This will be jarring to many Obama supporters. But it's a taste of what's to come if he's elected. I can hear one of my good friends, who is a lobbyist, letting out a rueful chuckle and saying this is what happens when all lobbyists get tarred and demonized. Whether  or not you buy that, I suspect there will be many similar instances if/when Obama tries to staff up his administration after the election.

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At Long Last

At first, McCarthyism was a partisan affair. Wisconsin’s junior senator rocketed to political stardom in February 1950, when he told the Republican Women’s Club in Wheeling, West Virginia, that Harry Truman’s State Department was infested with Communists. As that year’s midterm campaign progressed, Joe McCarthy’s staff helped doctor a photo of Maryland Democrat Millard Tydings, making him appear to be huddled with former U.S. Communist Party chief Earl Browder.

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It disappeared so quickly that it is easy to forget the bipartisan patriotism and common purpose that existed in Washington immediately after September 11, 2001. Perhaps the most memorable event from that period was the gathering of members of Congress from both parties on the steps of the Capitol to sing "God Bless America." Another such episode--little-noticed, but actually more remarkable--occurred the following month.

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