In 1949, when Margaret Chase Smith tried to put an end to propagandist communist-hunting with her “Declaration of Conscience” statement before Joe McCarthy’s committee, she committed political suicide. Before the speech, she was rumored to be a serious possibility for the 1952 Republican vice presidential ticket. Afterward, the popular senator from Maine lost her spot on the powerful Senate Expenditures Committee to California junior senator Richard M. Nixon. Unlike McCarthy, whose practices were perceived as a winning election issue, Smith “led a charge that no one followed.” She breached party loyalty and paid a painfully prescient lesson. Or so says Patricia L. Schmidt in her biography, Margaret Chase Smith: Beyond Convention, which exposes a would-be political heroine of the Cold War to our now lukewarm climate. Schmidt reads at 7 p.m. at Politics & Prose, 5015 Connecticut Ave. NW. FREE. (202) 364-1919. (Ginger Eckert)