Diana West

Take Reid's slander of Mitt Romney as a tax cheat and what you deservedly call Reid's "pathetic rejoinder" on being asked for proof: "I've had a number of people tell me that." You compare that to McCarthy's 1950 list of Communists on the State Department payroll. You write: "One wonders how many names were on Reid's McCarthyite 'tell' list -- were there, as McCarthy used to bluster, 205 names, or perhaps just 57?"

Again, is this an apt historical parallel? Malicious slander against a GOP nominee and allegations about serious security lapses in the State Department? I don't think so. If the implication in your use of the word "bluster" is that McCarthy had no list of names, I'm sorry, but the evidence laid out in "Blacklisted by History" (Chapter 14) tells us otherwise.

Your column continues: "When asked again to document the slur, Reid echoed McCarthy perfectly: 'The burden should be on him. He's the one I've alleged has not paid any taxes.'"

In what instance has "Reid echoed McCarthy perfectly"? Are you implying that McCarthy's investigations into Communists in the federal government were based on evidence of no higher caliber or substance than Reid's wholly unsubstantiated bombast?

Then you ask: "So how does Reid's reckless career continue with the Senate leader avoiding the sort of congressional censure that finally did in McCarthy? Why is there is no progressive muckraker to take on Reid the way that Edward R. Murrow once exposed McCarthy?"

It would be fun to throw a pop quiz at all historians and journalists who write on this issue to see what they really know about the "congressional censure" that "did in" McCarthy. Would they know that out of the original 46 charges against McCarthy, the Senate voted to censure McCarthy on only one single count? And what was that count? McCarthy's alleged stonewalling of the Gillette committee, a fishing expedition into the finances of his family and friends during one of multiple witch-hunt-style investigations the Senate initiated against him.

No doubt it's easier to allude to such events than to explain them. Ditto on how "muckraker" Murrow "exposed" McCarthy. I have a hunch that the punditry's explanation would closely track the synopsis of the completely ahistorical George Clooney movie on Murrow, "Good Night and Good Luck." Instead, I suggest "Blacklisted by History," pages 538 and 539.

Tragically, the recurring and gratuitous slander of the late, great McCarthy prevents Americans from understanding the enormous debt we owe the man for having had the unflagging courage to bring to light the dangerously lax security practices in the federal government that enabled Soviet agents and agents of influence (American traitors) in their extremely successful -- I call it victorious in my book "American Betrayal" -- covert war on this country.

More relevant to our time, so long as we profoundly misunderstand "McCarthyism," I believe we will be unable to protect our Constitution against all enemies, foreign and domestic.

Meanwhile, it is a plain truth that McCarthy correctly identified more than "a few" Communists in the federal government, as other historians such as Harvey Klehr have written. In fact, McCarthy identified scores of them. In articles for Human Events and Breitbart News, M. Stanton Evans recently tallied up no fewer than 50 (when, for brevity's sake, he stopped counting).

You conclude: "Part Tammany Hall-style fixer, part pre-civil rights Democrat, and part demagogic Joe McCarthy, Harry Reid is a throwback to a type of American politics better left forgotten."

I don't think the demagogy here is McCarthy's.

Diana West

Diana West is the author of American Betrayal: The Secret Assault on Our Nation's Character (St. Martin's Press, 2013), and The Death of the Grown-Up: How America's Arrested Development Is Bringing Down Western Civilization (St. Martin's Press, 2007).