By 1954, Republican Sen. Joseph McCarthy, as Chair of the Committee on Government Operations and its subcommittee on investigations, had destroyed the lives and reputations of numerous innocent citizens and government officials. He succeeded in his endeavor by bullying, lying, intimidating and even claiming that the State Department had been infiltrated by communists.

While Republican support had begun to question McCarthy's claims and tactics, on June 9, 1954, as broadcast live on TV, Joseph N. Welch, special attorney for the Army, made the following statement: “Until this moment, senator, I think I never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Let us not assassinate this lad further, senator. You have done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last have you no sense of decency?”

Six months later, on December 2, 1954, the U.S. Senate voted 65 to 22 to condemn Sen. McCarthy for conduct unbecoming of a senator, a condemnation equivalent to censure. McCarthy referred to the proceedings as a “lynch party.” Sound familiar?

McCarthy may be long gone, but the negative attributes he acted upon are all too reminiscent today: cruelty, intimidation, bullying, belittling, lying, exaggerating, recklessness and rabble-rousing. Where is our present day Joseph Welch to speak out against the lack of decency and conduct unbecoming of the president of the United States?

Barbara Kligerman