JOSEPH WELCH'S FAMOUS REPRIMAND OF SEN. JOSEPH McCARTHY WAS "JUST EVERYDAY TALK" FOR THE BOSTON ATTORNEY
WASHINGTON - The confrontation between seasoned attorney Joseph Welch, who represented the United States Army, and Senatory Joseph McCarthy on June 9, 1954 during the "Army-McCarthy" hearings marked the beginning of the end for McCarthy's anti-communist crusade. The jousting began when McCarthy accused a young attorney in Welch's law firm of formerly belonging to a group that aided communism. Before a nationwide television audience, Welch famously reprimanded McCarthy for the accusation, helping to turn the tide of public opinion against the Wisconsin senator.
While Welch's rebuke seemed dramatic, according to a new biography it was just everyday talk for the Boston attorney, who rebuked practically everyone he met with precisely the same language he directed at McCarthy, even for trivial or imagined slights and regardless of whether it was appropriate to the situation.
When a waiter accidentally spilled water on Welch's pants and tried to wipe it up, Welch sharply rebuked him: "You've done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"
When Welch's bus driver accidentally stopped twenty feet beyond Welch's stop, Welch rebuked him: "Until this moment, sir, I think I never really gauged your cruelty, or your recklessness. If it were within my power to forgive your reckless cruelty, I would do so but your forgiveness will have to come from someone other than me."
When a barber accidentally nicked Welch's son's neck, Welch rebuked him: "It is, I regret to say, true that this boy shall always bear a scar needlessly inflicted by you."
After Welch's famous encounter with Senator McCarthy, he went on to play a judge in Otto Preminger's Anatomy of a Murder. Footage showing Welch rebuking Preminger for the latter's decision to reduce Welch's role ended up on the cutting room floor.