In many ways an excellent article, although strangely arrogant and snarky in others.
I wonder if Guttenplan finds Victor Navasky and John Lowenthal (of whom he claims to have been a friend) among those elderly and "vaguely comical" obsessives so taken with the Hiss case. I wonder what exactly is so comical about the Hiss case and if he finds his own"obsession" with I.F. Stone equally humorous.
He also appears to take the claims of Nathaniel Weyl at face value. Weyl appeared in 1952 to claim that he too had been a communist and had been a member of the Ware group alongside Hiss. Yet no one else known to have been in the Ware group has ever mentioned the man, including Whittaker Chambers. So what does Weyl have to do with Hiss, aside from a belated and unsubstantiated claim?
As to his last question: What if McCarthy was right? (If indeed that is the question...) Right about what? McCarthy was not in the business of chiding about "idealistic young radicals." (The word "radical" is also problematic. It takes very little to be considered "radical" here. Civil rights, single-payer healthcare, labor unions--support for any one of the three has once or will now get one labeled a radical. And was the New Deal radical or reformist?) McCarthy claimed that the government was riddled with sworn members of the CP busy betraying the nation, and that he, Joe, had the goods on them. He also claimed that Trumen and Eisenhower were Communist dupes, as was Gen. George Marshall, and that the US Army was also involved in a red conspiracy. No one I am aware of has ever denied that there were socialists and communists working for FDR's administration in various departments. What they do say is that by time McCarthy came along, they'd all been gone for some time. I don't see anyone "pretending" they were never there.