THE BLOG
03/05/2012 12:06 pm ET | Updated May 05, 2012

Have You Left No Shame, Mr. Limbaugh?

Rush Limbaugh's bullying of the young law student Sandra Fluke recalls the incident that finally knocked Sen. Joe McCarthy off of his pedestal on June 9 1954, after he attacked the integrity of a young Harvard Law grad, Fred Fisher, an associate at Hale and Dorr in Boston.

McCarthy accused Fisher of associating while in law school with the National Lawyers Guild, which FBI director J. Edgar Hoover claimed was a Communist front organization. James Welch, a Hale and Dorr partner at the hearings, attacked McCarthy for naming the young man before a nationwide television audience without prior warning or previous agreement to do so. His words would bring down the previously unassailable McCarthy:

"Until this moment, Senator, I think I have never really gauged your cruelty or your recklessness. Fred Fisher is a young man who went to the Harvard Law School and came into my firm and is starting what looks to be a brilliant career with us. Little did I dream you could be so reckless and so cruel as to do an injury to that lad. It is true that he will continue to be with Hale and Dorr. It is, I regret to say, equally true that I fear he shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you. If it were in my power to forgive you for your reckless cruelty I would do so. I like to think that I am a gentle man but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me."

When McCarthy tried to renew his attack, Welch interrupted him: "Senator, may we not drop this? We know he belonged to the Lawyers Guild. Let us not assassinate this lad further, Senator. You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir? At long last, have you left no sense of decency?"

McCarthy tried to ask Welch another question about Fisher, and Welch cut him off:

"Mr. McCarthy, I will not discuss this further with you. You have sat within six feet of me and could ask -- could have asked me about Fred Fisher. You have seen fit to bring it out. And if there is a God in Heaven it will do neither you nor your cause any good. I will not discuss it further. I will not ask Mr. [Roy] Cohn any more questions. You, Mr. Chairman, may, if you will, call the next witness."

The gallery erupted in applause.