Politics, 1950s style

The current state of politics is abysmal, but it’s still better than the 1950s. Here are a couple of examples:

  • Files about Marilyn Monroes have been released:

Recently obtained by The Associated Press through the Freedom of Information Act, the updated FBI files do show the extent the agency was monitoring Monroe for ties to communism in the years before her death in August 1962.The records reveal that some in Monroe’s inner circle were concerned about her association with Frederick Vanderbilt Field, who was disinherited from his wealthy family over his leftist views.

Monroe’s file begins in 1955 and mostly focuses on her travels and associations, searching for signs of leftist views and possible ties to communism. One entry, which previously had been almost completely redacted, concerned intelligence that Monroe and other entertainers sought visas to visit Russia that year.

And why exactly should the FBI be investigating this? They shouldn’t, but it was common in the 1950s (and through most of Hoover’s time at the FBI).

  • It seems NH politicians played for keeps:

The saga began on June 3, 1953, when Lester Hunt Jr., son of a Democratic senator from Wyoming, was arrested in Washington’s Lafayette Park and accused of soliciting an undercover police officer. At the time, the younger Hunt was president of the student body at Episcopal Theological School in Cambridge. Since it was a first offense, police declined to prosecute.

Soon after the arrest, however, an official in the police Morals Division, Roy Blick, apparently was contacted by Bridges, then the chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, and another GOP senator, Herman Welker of Idaho, who was a close ally of Joseph McCarthy. Bridges and Welker, according to a 1954 column by the influential D.C. journalist Drew Pearson, threatened Blick’s job if he failed to pursue the case. Soon after, there was a trial. Hunt Jr. was found guilty and paid a $100 fine.

The story ran in the conservative Washington Times-Herald, but not in any of 36 papers in Wyoming, where Hunt was a candidate for reelection. “If the opposition brings this up in the Senate race, I shall withdraw,” Hunt is said to have told Drew Pearson. After facing threats that Republicans would do just that, Hunt, a mild-mannered former dentist, agreed to terminate his candidacy. Soon afterward, he shot himself in his Senate office.

The 1950s was a lovely time, wasn’t it?

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