Sunday, October 21, 2012

George McGovern 1922-2012

Early this Autumn morning, George McGovern passed away.

"The highest patriotism is not a blind acceptance of official policy, but a love of country deep enough to call her to a higher plain."

-George McGovern

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best, if he wins, knows the thrills of high achievement, and, if he fails, at least fails daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat."

-Theodore Roosevelt

George McGovern failed daring greatly. I was almost tempted to call this piece, "History's Glorious Loser" but thought better of it at the last moment. For the last three days I knew the moment would soon arrive when I would have to write this piece - since Wednesday when it was announced that he had passed gently into an irreversible coma. For my purposes his death could not have come at a more apropos moment. I have spent the last two weeks thinking a lot about George McGovern.   

I had just finished rereading, back-to-back, two books that dealt with McGovern's campaign against Richard Nixon forty years ago: Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 by Hunter S. Thompson, and The Boys on the Bus by Timothy Crouse. Also recently I watched again the documentary I purchased a few years ago called, One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern. This is as good a time as any to unload one's thoughts about George.

Publicly Bobby Kennedy referred to George McGovern as "the most decent man in the senate". Privately he called him "the only decent man in the senate". In my opinion he was the only man who ever sought the White House who was a true "Christian", that is to say he took the words of the Sermon on the Mount quite literally and tried to live by them - both publicly and privately. He was the peace candidate in 1972. His entire candidacy was more-than-likely a lesson in futility. Americans didn't want a pacifist living in the White House in 1972. Forty years later they still don't want one. We do love our wars, don't we. We're a warlike people. That's primarily why we are today a nation in ruins. Deal with it.

By Election Day 1972 it was obvious that the Nixon Gang were traitors to democracy. The Watergate scandal was in the process of unraveling; the trail of illegality from every direction led right to the Oval Office, and yet incredibly - mind bendingly - the American people chose to "stay the course" (whatever the hell that means) with the most corrupt administration in the history of human folly. The ultimate irony is that, given the hideous ethical standards of Reagan and King George Bush the Second, Nixon is starting to look pretty good by comparison. I need a drink. 

Within days of the end of the Democratic convention of 1972, it was apparent to all that McGovern's candidacy was self destructing. His campaign had been inadvertently sabotaged by Thomas Eagleton (his own running mate). During the vetting process, Eagleton never revealed to the McGovern people his history of mental illness and substance abuse. The press revealed it for him. He was replaced on the ticket by Kennedy brother-in-law, Sargent Shriver, but by then the damage was done. In the end he would lose every state in the union with the exceptions of  Massachusetts and the District of the Columbia - to the eternal pride of those two regions, I'm sure. George McGovern was even defeated in his native South Dakota.

Forty years ago, right at this very moment, the legendary Gonzo journalist, Hunter S. Thompson, was covering the Nixon/McGovern race for Rolling Stone Magazine. Earlier in the year during the first primaries, George McGovern was thought to be such a ridiculous long shot for the nomination, no one in the press took him seriously - no one but Thompson that is. He rose so high that summer, only to plunge into the depths in the autumn. McGovern was even betrayed by his own Democratic party. The old-guard pols like Chicago mayor, Dick Daily, knew the direction this visionary statesman wanted to take America and they would have none of it. In the hours leading up to what everyone knew was going be McGovern's defeat, Hunter wrote these frustrated words:  
"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it - that we ar
e really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

Thompson was way off in his assumption. 1972 was not the year we were to come face to face with the sick reality of what the United States has become. Four long decades later we're still in denial apparently. I don't know about you folks but I'm bracing myself for eight years of Mitt Romney. Forget the drink, I could use some heroin right about now. 

"Blessed are the Peacemakers
For they shall be called, "Sons of God"

-Jesus of Nazareth 

Yes, then and for the rest of his long life, George McGovern was a passionate advocate for peace. He also forever altered the face of the Democratic party in 1972 when, during the platform hearings at the convention that summer, he expanded the participation of women and minorities. Just one of the direct legacies of that long ago campaign is the administration of Barack Obama. I wonder if on this beautiful October morning the American people truly appreciate the debt of gratitude they owe George McGovern. Probably not.

George who? 

Forty years ago the people of this country were handed - on a silver platter - one of the most decent and thoughtful men ever to seek the highest office in the world - and we blew it. We just tossed him aside for the likes of Dick Nixon - a president so completely mired in corruption he would resign from office in disgrace less than two years later.  Eight years after the '72 campaign, George was defeated for reelection, politically drowning in the tide that sent a feeble-minded, failed "B" movie actor to the White House. 

In 1984 he once again sought the Democratic nomination for the presidency. During this period he even had a go at hosting Saturday Night Live for an evening! By this time America was in a self-induced coma, a side effect of the so-called "Reagan Revolution". George McGovern's brand of liberalism seemed to most Americans a quaint relic of a past they did not wish to return to. The nomination went to the more centrist Walter Mondale.

In the ensuing years he would serve honorably as the distinguished, elder statesman of American liberalism, always off on the peripherals of America's political dialogue with those insightful nuggets of sage wisdom, the occasional book,  and advice for anyone with the good sense to seek it. George McGovern was one of the very few politicians I can honestly say that I loved. He's gone now, and he's not coming back.

 Tom Degan
Goshen, NY  


One Bright Shining Moment: 
The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern
narrated by Amy Goodman

This excellent documentary came out a few years ago. If you don't now completely understand what was lost when this doomed country rejected George McGovern forty years ago, you will after viewing it. Here's a link to order it off of

First my Uncle Jerry; now George McGovern. This really has been a particularly nasty week at casa de Degan.


At 9:20 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

With the lowering of the legal voting age from 21 to 18, the presidential election of 1972 was my first. It was also the last time the Democratic Party's candidate was a true liberal, and consequently, the last time I was able to vote for one. The rush toward conservative lunacy was just beginning to take a foothold.

Mr. McGovern promised to end the Vietnam War within 90 days. I'm sure that went over well with the war hawks and Military-Industrial Complex (which it didn't), and that horrible war dragged on for another three years with the reelection of the criminal Richard Nixon. The true "powers that be" took firm control, and the hatching of neo-conservatism survived its incubation. We live with its wrath and indignities to this day.

Rest in Peace, Senator McGovern. You truly were the last of a decent breed.

At 10:05 AM, Blogger Pappyz said...

Just home from the quagmire that was Vietnam, Senator McGovern opened my eyes to the quagmire we call politics. I have been depressed since then and more so with his passing.


At 10:46 AM, Blogger Grettalulu said...

It hurts and you express the hurt so beautifully. It hasn't stopped hurting since 1972. Thanks, Tom. RIP, Senator.

At 2:41 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just Left of Center said:

George was the first candidate that I worked for. While his defeat at the hands of Nixon crushed me, nothing disappointed me more than his positions and statements he made once he left office. He turned his back on the working poor and their family's.

In August of 2008, he wrote a fretful op-ed in the Wall Street Journal in which he cautioned "fellow" Democrats against supporting the Employee Free Choice Act, a bill that would make it easier for workers to form unions.
In October of 2008 during the 2008 Presidential debates an ad featuring George McGovern aired in which he "condemns his own party" for supporting legislation that makes it easier for workers to join unions. McGovern's ad was a part of a $120 million campaign by business groups and wealthy special interests who are trying to confuse & divide pro-worker leaders who support the Employee Free Choice Act.

McGovern was opposed to taxing their fair share the lucky few who owned their own business, business that they did not make on their own. In the WSJ he wrote: "But my business associates and I also lived with federal, state and local rules that were all passed with the objective of helping employees, protecting the environment, raising tax dollars for schools, protecting our customers from fire hazards, etc. While I never have doubted the worthiness of any of these goals, the concept that most often eludes legislators is: “Can we make consumers pay the higher prices for the increased operating costs that accompany public regulation and government reporting requirements with reams of red tape.” It is a simple concern that is nonetheless often ignored by legislators….

In short, “one-size-fits-all” rules for business ignore the reality of the marketplace. And setting thresholds for regulatory guidelines at artificial levels — e.g., 50 employees or more, $500,000 in sales — takes no account of other realities, such as profit margins, labor intensive vs. capital intensive businesses, and local market economics."

I am grateful for his service to our country in WWII, I am grateful to his opposition to the Vietnam war, but I still am confused why he continued to vote to fund it.

RIP Senator McGovern, I'm sure you meant well.

At 2:45 PM, Blogger Steve said...

It's easy (and depressing) to see history prove McGovern was right, just as history has proven Mondale was right.
My fellow Americans have made their choices over the decades, which only shows me they cannot judge the decency of a man, or a political leader.

At 6:48 AM, Blogger Mack Lyons said...

We do love our wars, don't we. We're a warlike people. That's primarily why we are today a nation in ruins. Deal with it.

And we will continue loving our wars until they barge through our living rooms. Until we have our own Coventry, our own Dresden, our own Tokyo firebombing, we'll cling to our wars like an infant clinging to a tit.

9/11 didn't cut it. If anything, it made us long for war even more.

At 10:36 AM, Anonymous JFG said...

"This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it - that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable."

It sounds like Hunter was a time traveling prophet. Alter the population to 300+ million and the quote rings true today.

At 3:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Uninstalling Obama......... █████████████▒▒▒ 90% complete.

At 8:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

George would not approve of this.

Early Friday morning, thug supporters of President Obama beat up the son of Wisconsin State Senator Neal Kedzie, outside of his apartment in Whitewater. Kedzie caught the two men removing a Romney sign outside of his apartment around two o’clock in the morning. After telling them to put the signs back, one of the thugs attacked Kedzie and then put him in a choke hold and continued to beat his head.

Mark Belling spoke to the Senator’s son Sean on the radio earlier today. Sean Kedzie told Belling, he was rushed to the hospital by ambulance with possible skull and eye socket fractures.

At 9:20 AM, Blogger MEsule said...

So sorry to hear about your uncle Jerry, Tom.

But ... you may have hit on something. "I need a drink." The Religious Right, and most religious conservatives, and Mormons are teetotalers. Maybe what this nation needs is a drink. See you at the neighborhood pub.


At 9:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Leftists routinely cry foul and attempt to demonize conservatives as violent extremists whenever online rhetoric gets heated, and yet when their own engage in even worse conduct, their behavior is absolved and the media is disinterested.

Despite the fact that the media reported extensively on threats made against Obama prior to the 2008 election, their silence on the threats made against Romney has been deafening. Indeed, the act of a few old guys hanging up empty chairs in reference to Clint Eastwood’s RNC speech garnered substantially more coverage and concern from the press compared to hundreds if not thousands of tweets threatening violence against Mitt Romney.

Americans who simply display political signs expressing opposition to Obama’s policies have been treated as potential violent threats by authorities in the past, and yet not a single Twitter user has faced retribution for making direct and sometimes graphic death threats against Romney.

Well liberals, what say you? Or is your silence the voice of your approval?

At 9:50 AM, Blogger Tom Degan said...

Thank you, Victoria - and you may very well onto something there. First round's on me!

Did you see the debate last night? Well, my goodness, thank heavens that's over with. Yesterday morning at this time I was bracing myself for four years (EIGHT YEARS???) of the nightmare of a Romney/Ryan administration. Not so much today. Obama clearly won last night. You might not hear that on FOX Noise but, as Walter Cronkite liked to say back in his day, that's the way it is.

My prayer is that the American people won't be stupid enough to go back down the Republican road again. Maybe they've FINALLY learned the lesson they should have learned over a century ago: Right wing form of governance DOES NOT WORK - PERIOD. It's such a no-brainer, I can't believe it's taken them this long.

The only way the GOP will be able to take this thing will be by stealing it. They're working on that.

Tom Degan

At 6:20 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey Tom,

It really doesn't look good for Obama.

Lets be honest, our first African-American President just hasn't delivered on all his promises from the 2008 campaign. The man is a dud! Why should we believe any of his 2012 campaign promises?

PS - RIP George and Uncle Jerry

At 9:33 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The only way the GOP will be able to take this thing will be by stealing it."

That's not true. There is always the option of defeating an incumbent who shouldn't have been elected in the first place and has shown the whole way he wasn't fit for the job.

But I realize it is time for the left to begin setting up that pretextual reasoning for his impending defeat. Right on cue.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "But I realize it is time for the left to begin setting up that pretextual reasoning for his impending defeat."

Nope! He's in. It has already been predetermined. They'll get everything they need from their selection, in the next four years, so there's no reason to change horses in midstream.

Ryan will get his turn in 2016 -- assuming there's anything left worth pillaging and plundering.

At 12:12 PM, Anonymous sewa mobil jakarta said...

God always be with him.


At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Libs are on fire for Obama!

LEESBURG, Va. (WTOP) – It’s not unusual for campaign signs to be stolen or even destroyed during the course of a political campaign. But an incident early Monday morning, involving a sign burning, is now being called arson.

Libby Stevens put up her 4-foot-by-8-foot blue and white Mitt Romney sign when the candidate himself came to Leesburg last week. It was on her front lawn, inside her white picket fence. About 2 a.m. Monday someone set the plastic sign on fire.

Stevens says it was scary to look out the window to see flames leaping into the night.

“To come into someone’s gated fenced front yard and set something on fire? Something could have happened,” she says.

The Loudoun County Fire Department has classified the sign burning as arson, which in this case would be a misdemeanor. If a suspect is convicted he or she could face a year in jail and a big fine.

At 4:42 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Th Detroit News endorses Romney for President.

Key statements in their endorsement:

"President Barack Obama came into office in 2009 riding a wave of hope and change. Unfortunately, he has not delivered on the nation's yearning for change nor on the specific promises he made to fix what is broken. The president is asking the country to be patient, but his plan isn't producing results that would merit more patience, and the president hasn't spelled out what he would do differently in a second term.

The Keynesian approach has not worked. Despite an $830 billion stimulus and increased annual spending, the economic recovery is the weakest in post-World War II history. Investors remain on the sidelines, afraid to put their money into job creating projects because of the uncertainty about future tax and regulatory policy."

Liberalism fails again.

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "The Keynesian approach has not worked."

Not true. It has worked, by keeping the Bush-created near-collapse from turning into another great depression. Gee, you must have hit your head so hard when Bush drove the economy into the ditch, that now you're suffering from Romnesia.

Just think: If McCain had been selected, the unemployment rate would be at least triple what it is now. If Romney wins, it will be by next summer -- if not worse.

Conservatism -- always for the elite, at the expense of everyone else.

At 9:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Keynesian approach has not worked." The Detroit News in their endorsement for Romney.

"Not true. It has worked, by keeping the Bush-created near-collapse from turning into another great depression." JG in his liberal Keynesian alternative world.

JG, share with us the name of your source that supports your claim as quoted above. Dionne Warwick or one of her friends?

At 3:55 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "JG in his liberal Keynesian alternative world."

Correction: It's your "alternative world" that lacks credibility and substance. Show me a country on this planet, devoid of regulation and operating from a purely laissez-faire economic model, that's successful and thriving. Just name one, that's all I ask.

You can't. There aren't any.

Who's living in an "alternative world"? Not me...

At 8:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The source JG the source.

At 1:00 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "The source JG the source."

Alright, I concede, I exaggerated a bit. But probably not by much. Nevertheless, unemployment would have been worse had McCain won (despite his presidency also resorting to "the dreaded" Keynesian economic stimulus).

If the flip-floppin' Bishop Romney gets crowned, you better start stockpiling food, water, and ammo, 'cause the worst has yet to be. It's truly ironic, given the LDS's proclivity for storing such things in anticipation of the end of the world. Oh...the irony of ironies! It can never be said that "the powers that be" don't have a twisted sense of humor! Hollywood couldn't write a better script.

At 2:49 PM, Blogger Harley A. said...

JG -

My deal is I don't thing either Bush or Obama had much say. The Fed runs things. When they want money printed (er, QE) we do it. Presidents do their bidding, not the other way around - at least IMO.

At 3:10 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Harley A.: "Presidents do their bidding, not the other way around..."

I'm sorry you interpreted my term, "the powers that be", to mean the president of the United States.

It isn't.

At 4:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Nevertheless, unemployment would have been worse had McCain won (despite his presidency also resorting to "the dreaded" Keynesian economic stimulus)."

How do you know that JG? Palm reading, physic friends, crystal ball? You don't know that and it really is not the issue. The issue that you are dodging is, Obama and his Keynesian economic policy's have failed.
JG, you are simply trying to say that it would have or could have been worse of brand x had won the 2008 election. Or that it is someone else's fault. That's deflection at its best and a lie at it's worse. What we know for a fact is after 4 years in office, and billions of tax dollars being spent, Obama's Keynesian policy has failed.
Those of us in the private sector are not better off than we were 4 years ago.

At 6:27 PM, Blogger Modusoperandi said...

Yeah, JG, Obama's policies have failed! The only path forward now is tax cuts, blind deregulation and massive increases in Defense spending.
Romney's calling it the "Deja vu Doctrine".

At 8:30 PM, Anonymous John said...

>>tax cuts, blind deregulation and massive increases in Defense spending...

Hasn't that been Obama's economic policy? Oh yea, with the exception of 50 million additional health insurance customers. Why should the military industrialists get all the money, we have pharmaceutical, insurance and medical industry to support. Argo-business continues to do quite well under the current regime with many new gmo's being fast-tracked. There is essentially no oversight on this genetic experiment where the primary goal appears to be to enable these huge corporations to expand their monopoly on the world's food supply. Not only that, so call free trade agreements, there huge legal might and other government policy protect them from responsibility.

The policies that the anonymous types support have plenty of regulation - it just gets applied to the customer - not to industry. Good luck to your children, it may be getting applied right to their DNA...

You might be right about the deja-vu thing too, as the GMO experiment may be similar to the nuclear industry's experiments. I don't think that had a positive outcome on the mental and physical health of society.

At 8:34 PM, Anonymous atomic johnic said...

...typos all over the place. I was born in the age of nuclear testing. I rest my case.

At 11:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Modusoperandi and John
You do realize that real working middle class people work in health insurance industry, military mfg industry, pharmaceutical industry and Argo-business, don't you? And these real working middle class people may organize into unions if they want, they pay income taxes on their wages, they buy or build homes which are built by other middle class working people, and they pay taxes on the cars they buy, the gas they use, the tires they wear out.
So what is your problem? Sounds a lot better than dependence on the on handouts from the govt for your well being. And by the way, who competes the Govt Monopoly?

At 9:02 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "The issue that you are dodging is, Obama and his Keynesian economic policy's have failed. JG, you are simply trying to say that it would have or could have been worse of brand x had won the 2008 election."

You asked me to cite my source [that the economy would have been worse under McCain] and I provided you with the Harvard Business Review which substantiates my claim.

As I mentioned earlier, you obviously hit your head so hard when Bush drove the economy into the ditch, that now you're suffering from a clear sign of Romnesia. (Ya' know, when you're handed a shit sandwich, it takes awhile to turn it into filet mignon. Sometimes it never changes. We have Bush to thank for that.)

At 10:31 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"you obviously hit your head so hard"

Please provide proof and sources for this claim.

At 11:38 AM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "Please provide proof and sources [that I hit my head during the Bush crash into the ditch]."

You are the proof. Your inability to recall the calamity and economic destruction served up by George Bush, which climaxed in a near-total collapse of the economy (which we still haven't recovered from yet) just as he handed the baton to Obama, is clear proof that your short-term memory has been compromised. I only assume it was from the crash.

Perhaps your Romnesia is due to disease, or even psychological trauma. Perhaps when most major provisions of the PPACA are phased in by 2014, you'll be able to find treatment and care for your malady.

Good luck!

At 3:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No Proof, no truth JG.
Try next time.

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Jefferson's Guardian said...

Anonymous: "No Proof, no truth JG."

Then how would you characterize your total lack of memory concerning the events that came to a head in September 2008?

You do remember that month and year, don't you?

Or do you...?

At 5:56 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

JG, your total same lack of memory when it comes to remembering the promises broke by Obama?

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