Depending on Maine

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s explanation on Monday about why his side is so traumatized about not getting what they want, was punctuated by a quote from Senator Margaret Chase Smith that the Maine Republican gave on the Senate floor on June 1, 1950. His selective parsing of her speech, however, left out the most important issue that the late senator was trying to make.

Smith said she was speaking “as a Republican … as a woman … as a United States senator … as an American.” She went on to castigate her fellow Republicans for their moral cowardliness in not taking a stand on a man whom she felt was morally reprehensible, Joe McCarthy.

Here is her direct quote: “I do not want to see the Republican Party ride to political victory on the Four Horseman of Calumny — fear, ignorance, bigotry, and smear. Surely we Republicans are not so desperate for a victory.”

Being the only woman in the Senate she continued, “Surely it would ultimately be suicide for the Republican Party and the two-party system that has protected our American liberties from the dictatorship of a one-party system … As an American, I want to see our nation recapture the strength and unity it once had when we fought our enemies instead of ourselves.”

Thank you, Senator McConnell, for reminding us that your party once had a soul and a conscience. Just as the only woman in the Senate, led her party in disassociating themselves from the moral bankruptcy that was taking place then, let’s hope that today her outstanding example is followed by the current woman from Maine and her colleagues.

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