Senator Joseph McCarthy Lied About His Whole Military Career
Joseph McCarthy is to date the only U.S. senator notorious enough to have an entire "-ism" named after him. He was almost single-handedly responsible for elevating Cold War America's suspicion of left-wing politics to the status of foaming, tinfoil-hat paranoia.
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"Don't like wearing a tinfoil hat? Maybe you prefer ushankas, comrade?!"
But when he was elected in 1947, it was largely on the back of his outstanding war hero record. He campaigned with the nickname "Tail-Gunner Joe" and used the slogan "Congress needs a tail-gunner," referring to his outstanding service in the war as a -- give us a moment to look it up here -- tail-gunner.
He'd been awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and numerous air medals, received a letter of commendation from Admiral Chester Nimitz, and even held the record for most ammunition expended in a single day in the Pacific Theater. If you asked him, he was Rambo 30 years before Rambo was a thing, and America needed him in Congress, although, when you really think about it, there's no reason why being good at shooting should be a requisite for political office.
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Uh, most of the time.
Here's the thing, though -- pretty much none of that even happened. It eventually came out that McCarthy's entire war record was a collection of embellishments and outright bullshit.
Most significantly, Tail-Gunner Joe was, hilariously, never actually a tail-gunner. He did sit in the tail-gunner's seat a few times, but only as a passenger. He even shot the gun! But never in combat. McCarthy was as much a tail-gunner as your 10-year-old nephew is a trucker because he got to sit on your lap once and you let him pull the air horn.
At this point, we're lucky "Tail-Gunner Joe" wasn't just some military sex act.