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Just watched a pretty amazing documentary with some great commentary by the likes of Dick Gregory, Gloria Steinem, Gary Hart and McGovern himself. Narrated by Amy Goodman (also features an excellent interview with her.)

I encourage everyone to check this out: "One Bright Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George McGovern" by First Run Features.

He really picked up RFK's mantle and I would say perhaps even outdid him. I don't think people realize that his landslide loss to Nixon only came after some pretty sinister and ridiculous events. He was very close to surging to political victory during the summer of 72. He said the things that this nation needed to hear and I hope brother Obama knows this story! Tragic to see how right McGovern was and wrong everyone else was, particularly those who voted for Nixon. Hopefully our history will start to reflect this someday.......

Originally posted to drummerman1972 on Thu Jun 05, 2008 at 08:53 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Another Irony about McGovern (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lipstick Liberal, corvo, TomFromNJ that he flew dozens of missions over the Third Reich on a B-24 Liberator heavy bomber (I think he was a copilot), but never mentioned it during the campaign, and Nixon, who hadn't served, managed to paint him as effeminate and weak (with an assist from the media of course).

    He'd have been a great president.

  •  I'd Like To See It (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, blueness, Norm DePlume

    I don't recall what the polls showed during the summer, but there was definitely a feeling that it was a real race until the Eagleton thing happened.  McGovern was also very underrated as a speaker.  I always remember one of his antiwar speeches in the Senate, the line was something like "This chamber is soaked in blood."  The film must be pretty depressing.  I will never forget that election night, after spending the day running around polling places in South Philadelphia and witnessing a McGovern poll watcher getting beat up by some thugs working for Frank Rizzo, coming back to headquarters, and all I hear on TV is Cronkite saying "a landslide of historic proportions".  I made it a point to stay up to hear the results from the Oregon Senate race, only to find out that my hero Wayne Morse also went down to defeat.  Unfortunately, the timing of this isn't good, as I don't think anyone wants to suggest any connection between McGovern and Obama.

  •  interesting take (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Woody, Prince Nekhlyudov

    in the May 26 New Yorker:

    Sam Tanenhaus summed up the 2008 race with a simple formula: Goldwater was to Reagan as McGovern is to Obama. From the ruins of Goldwater’s landslide defeat in 1964, conservatives began the march that brought them fully to power sixteen years later. If Obama wins in November, it will have taken liberals thirty-six years. Tanenhaus pointed out how much of Obama’s rhetoric about a "new politics" is reminiscent of McGovern’s campaign, which was also directed against a bloated, corrupt establishment . . . .

    Obama, of course, is an entirely different personality in a different time, but the interminable primary campaign has shown his coalition to look very much like McGovern’s: educated, upper-income liberal voters; blacks; and the young. Nixon beat McGovern among the latter even after the Twenty-sixth Amendment lowered the voting age to eighteen; but times have changed so drastically that, according to Pew Research Center surveys, almost sixty per cent of voters under thirty now identify more strongly with the Democrats, doubling the Party’s advantage among the young over Republicans since 2004. And the demographic work of John Judis and Ruy Teixeira in their 2002 book, The Emerging Democratic Majority, showed that the McGovern share of the electorate—minorities and educated professionals working in post-industrial jobs—is expanding far faster than the white working class. This was the original vision of a McGovern adviser named Fred Dutton, whose 1971 book, Changing Sources of Power: American Politics in the 1970s, cited by Perlstein, foresaw a rising "coalition of conscience and decency" among baby boomers. The new politics was an electoral disaster in 1972, but it may finally triumph in 2008.

  •  The real lesson of 1972 (3+ / 0-)

    was that a Party nomenklatura can and will destroy its own candidate if it feels sufficiently motivated to do so and has the power to do so.

    Whether we learned anything from that lesson will be measured by the genuineness of the support for Obama from the DLC wing of the Party.

    •  Goldwater (0+ / 0-)

      Another parallel between McGovern and Goldwater.  Conservatives would argue that Rockefeller Republicans did the same thing to Goldwater in '64.

      •  Goldwater was more liberal than the 'liberal' (0+ / 0-)

        Republicans on some issues like women's rights and individual rights - more a western libertarian with a conservative/hawkish foreign policy.....

        However give Goldwater credit - he HAD an ethical and moral center.

        Goldwater was the one walking into the WH to say 'ENOUGH!' to Nixon.

        Has ANY Republican - or Democrat - said the same to Bush?

    •  Whose fault ... (0+ / 0-)

      Usually Presidents are not denied a second term.  G.H.W. Bush was, but some would say that his was really Reagan's third term, and so Reagan was denied a fourth term. Jimmy Carter was denied a third term, and well, that's a long story. So defeating Nixon in 1972 was never going to be easy.

      Some terrible things happened to the McGovern campaign. and certainly much of the D.C. establishment opposed his candidacy. But I don't count that as one of the terrible and deciding factors in his defeat.

      The Democratic Convention got into such a fight over the Platform, with little willingness to compromise on either side of the Vietnam War issue -- or any other issue -- that the nominee's acceptance speech was broadcast live well after midnight Eastern Time. So the biggest and best chance to introduce the party's nominee to the national audience was thrown into the toilet.

      After a start like that, what could come next?

      McGovern named a popular Senator from Missouri, a bellwether swing state that could decide a close election, to be his Veep. His team had asked Senator Eagleton if there were any skeletons in his closet that could cause a problem in the campaign, and he assumed them there was nothing. He must have forgot about his hospitalization for depression and the electroshock therapy he underwent. When that news came out, some people (like, about 200 million of us Americans) questioned his fitness to sit a heartbeat away from the Presidence. McGovern waited for Senator Eagleton to do the honorable thing and step down as the Veep nominee. He forgot to do that too. After letting the issue dominate the news coverage for over a week, McGovern finally told Eagleton he had to go. But McGovern paid a heavy price for being so nice: He looked like a wimp and  a fool.

      It would have been a tough campaign in any event. Nixon had been rolling out the Southern Strategy that served the Repubs so well for the next decades: The Repubs sent signals, winks and dog whistles, and some blunt statements to let voters in the former Confederacy know that the Repubs were sympathetic to the whites in Dixie and would not push so hard to let blacks get ahead as the Democrats promised to do. There might have been better ways to fight the racist Repub message, but McGovern, from the lily-white state of South Dakota, was particularly unprepared for this sort of campaign.

      So in the end, McGovern lost the once-Democratic Solid South and everything else in a landslide loss. But he was a decent man who would have made a good President.

  •  McGovern was an absolute... (0+ / 0-)

    disaster for us. Remember it well!

    •  Really? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      American culture has changed a lot.  I remember Pat Buchanan's "3 A's" that summed up Nixon's attack on McGovern: Acid, Abortion, and Amnesty.  Abortion is now legal and most Americans want to keep it that way.  Carter granted amnesty to war resisters and it was viewed favorably by most Americans.  And I don't think that the Republicans are going to win any votes by touting the great "successes" of the war on drugs.

  •  I remember going along with my parents to (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    drop literature for McGovern in our apartment building. He didn't run a great campaign, but he would have been a fine President who we could have been proud of.

  •  I worked for the Sen. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    in "72 between high school and college. I have a lot of respect for him.

  •  Respect McGovern and Dukakis too (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    I was a delegate to the Dem Convention in Atlanta in 1988. Dukakis was about to be crowned nominee on Wednesday. At 3pm EST, well before prime time, George and Eleanor McGovern were introduced from the visitors section near the rafters.They smiled and waved to the applause of the few delegates present. Then the program quickly moved on to other matters.The Dukakis campaign folks were determined not hurt their candidate by association with McGovern. Dukakis, who ran a bad campaign and was slimed by George Bush the First with the Willy Horton attack ad, has been treated the same as he had treated McGovern at each subsequent convention.
    Dems treat nominees who lose like disgraced ex convicts. The GOP, on the other hand, always gave the loser Goldwater respect. Even Alf Landon got respect. At this convention I hope Obama changes things and acknowledges all our living nominees; not just Carter, the Clintons and the Nobel Prize and Oscar winner Al Gore,but McGovern, Dukakis,Mondale and Kerry.Let's have pride in our past nominees whether they won or not.

    •  Respect? I must be old too (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I remember when traditionally the Democratic nominee made the rounds, to visit FDR's living children, to Liberty, Missouri to call on Truman's widow and daughter, down to Texas to pay respects to Lady Bird Johnson. To me that is still the right and proper thing to do, and good politics too.

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