Tag Archives: George McGovern

Are Democrats flirting with a 1972 repeat?

(AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

Mark Penn, a Democratic pollster writing an essay for The Hill newspaper, poses a serious question that Democrats need to take seriously.

Are they flirting with a re-run of an electoral disaster by nominating a “democratic socialist” to run for president of the United States?

Penn writes about Sen. Bernie Sanders, the current Democratic frontrunner for the party’s 2020 presidential nomination: Sanders is an avowed democratic socialist whose “free college” mantra has captured the party’s youth vote, despite his having turned 78 years old. For decades he has lectured against the problems of big banks, an economy that works for the few and the need for revolutionary change. It is odd — in a time of such great prosperity, low unemployment and rising wages — that his message would resonate.

Yikes, man!

He seems to suggest in his essay that Democrats could face a blowout similar to what befell them when they nominated Sen. George McGovern in 1972 to run against President Nixon. McGovern lost 49 of 50 states to Nixon. I was a college student at the time. I was dedicated to electing George McGovern to be president. I was deflated quickly after the first polls closed on Election Night 1972; the networks called it almost immediately.

I am not willing to believe Donald Trump is going to blow Sanders out the way Nixon pummeled McGovern. I fear, though, that the president would cruise to re-election, which is an outcome I sincerely do not want to happen.

If Democrats are sincere in their belief that their nominee must be the most electable person they can find, they surely can do better than to elect someone such as Sanders. He isn’t a Democrat; his Senate career has produced next to zero legislative accomplishment; he talks a good game but doesn’t deliver the goods in the form of responsible legislation.

Sure, Sanders is drawing big, boisterous crowds. So did Sen. McGovern. The 1972 crowds cheered themselves hoarse urging McGovern to go after President Nixon. He tried. He failed … badly.

Check out Penn’s essay here.

Then ask yourself, if you are as devoted to Donald Trump’s defeat as I am: Is this the candidate who can actually win this most consequential election?

Waiting for the candidate who can wipe out Trump

Critics of this blog — at least some of them — have made some incorrect presumptions about me. They seem to believe I am some sort of far-left socialist who wants to redistribute wealth. That’s the vibe I get from a few of ’em.

I am a patriotic American, a veteran who went to war for my country, someone who’s been married to one woman for 48 years, has reared two sons watched them become two of the finest men on Earth. I pay my taxes without complaining.  I attend church most Sundays. I revere the principles for which our flag flies and I get choked up at military parades.

Accordingly, I do not want to see some far-left socialist nominated by the Democratic Party to run against Donald J. Trump. I favor a more moderate approach to good government. Who is that candidate? Who should carry the torch forward into political battle against a president who has zero business holding the office to which he was elected? I do not yet know.

I merely want to endorse the candidate who embodies moderation but one who can take the fight directly to Trump and his minions.

I had the distinct pleasure this week of attending a Trump rally in downtown Dallas. I went as an observer. I told a couple from Rockwall I meant about my intent in being there. They got it, even as they wore their Trump gear while waiting to get into the arena.

I met a lot of nice people. I had half-expected to see my share of wild-eyed wackos. I didn’t see them. Instead, I saw thousands of committed Trump supporters whose enthusiasm for their candidate was as fervent as any I have seen since, oh, 1972, when I got involved politically for the first time. My guy at that time was progressive U.S. Sen. George McGovern, a Democrat from South Dakota who campaigned on a pledge to end our involvement in the Vietnam War.

I had just returned from Vietnam and I wanted Sen. McGovern to win in the worst way. Instead, he lost in the worst way, losing 49 states to President Nixon. We were committed, too. Our crowds were huge and enthusiastic, too. We lost big.

My point is this: Fringe candidates do not win national elections. Trump is no extremist. He is, as best I can tell, a complete anomaly. He has no ideological base. He doesn’t stand on principle. He brought zero public service credentials, let alone interest, into the office he won in what I consider to be the Mother of All Political Flukes.

He has disgraced his office. He has embarrassed me as an American patriot. I want him banished from the White House. I want the next president to represent the sensible center of American life.

Whoever that person is, I am waiting for him or her to present themselves to Americans and to make the case in the strongest terms possible that they can — and will — restore dignity to the nation’s highest and most exalted office.

Get ready for the filthiest campaign in history

I am trying like the dickens to wrap my noggin around an impossible prospect.

That is, I am seeking to comprehend the level of filth that will sully the next campaign for the presidency of the United States. We are getting a whiff of the stench that already is filling the air around the 2020 campaign.

Donald J. Trump’s re-election campaign is getting set to run TV ads on the Fox News Channel that seek to tie Joe Biden, a potential 2020 opponent, to phony allegations of corruption involving the former VP and his son, Hunter, in business dealings in Ukraine.

Think about that for a moment. When have we seen an incumbent president seek to influence a primary outcome in the other political party? I am trying to remember. The closest parallel I can find is 1972, when Republicans sought to surreptitiously undermine Democratic frontrunner Edmund Muskie of Maine while greasing the skids for Democrats to nominate George McGovern of South Dakota. The difference between then and now is that President Nixon’s re-election team did it all under the table … not out front and in plain view of the entire world! The strategy worked: Nixon won re-election in a historic landslide, then got into serious trouble with that thing called “Watergate.”

Meanwhile, the current president is facing the real prospect of being impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives over his admission that he is asking for foreign government help in his re-election effort, not to mention help in digging up dirt on Joe and Hunter Biden.

My fellow Americans, welcome to the new age of American politics, where the president of the United States openly violates his oath of office and then seeks to smear a potential campaign opponent with the hope that the opposing party will nominate someone else.

I hope we all have the stomach for what we are about to witness.

Preferring a centrist/moderate to challenge Trump

The older I get the less radical my political thinking becomes.

I once considered myself a radical. In 1972, for instance, I got to cast my first vote for president of the United States. I voted proudly for Sen. George McGovern, who went on to lose 49 of 50 states against President Richard Nixon. It didn’t matter to me that I was backing a doomed candidate. I had just returned home from the Army, served some time in Vietnam, came home from that war wondering what in the world we were doing over there. I wanted the war to end; Sen. McGovern was going to end it.

I have learned over the years, now that I am a whole lot older, that radical politicians usually fare poorly at the ballot box.

To that end, I am leaning heavily toward a centrist/moderate Democrat to win the party’s nomination to run against Donald John Trump in November 2020.

The radical progressives running for POTUS this year tend to annoy me. I refer to the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders, Marianne Williamson, Bill DiBlasio for starters. Of the three I just mentioned, Sanders is the most annoying of all; he sings off a single page in his political hymn book, the one titled “income inequality.”

My tendency is to lean toward someone such as Joe Biden, the former vice president. I get that he has taken a lot of fire from many of his Democratic Party primary foes. Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, DiBlasio, Julian Castro and John Delaney have unloaded on him.

A large number of other Democratic candidates are likely to fade away. I am sorry to project that one of them might be Beto O’Rourke, the Texan who once captured the country’s imagination by giving Ted Cruz a serious scare in the 2018 midterm election for the U.S. Senate.

Is the former VP the man to beat Trump? Time will have to tell on that one. He hasn’t looked like it at these two Democratic joint appearances. However, it is still early, man.

There might be another moderate to emerge. If one does come forth, I intend to give that individual a careful look.

Radicalism doesn’t sell with me. I’m too old for that these days.

Watergate Day has arrived, heralding ‘most stupid scandal’ ever

Happy Watergate Break-in Day, ladies and gentlemen.

It was 47 years ago today that some burglars got caught breaking into the Democratic National Committee headquarters in Washington, D.C. It turned out eventually that the burglars were acting on behalf of the Committee to Re-Elect the President — aka the hilarious acronym “CREEP.”

The scandalous nature of the burglary took time to unfold before the nation. When it did, all hell broke loose. We learned about how President Nixon sought to, um, “obstruct justice” by seeking to stop the FBI investigation. There were those infamous tape recordings. The Senate seated a select committee to get to the bottom of it.

Once it did, then the House Judiciary Committee launched impeachment proceedings. Then it voted to impeach the president, with several Republican members joining their Democratic colleagues.

Nixon then quit the presidency.

Why is this remarkably pertinent today? Because another scandal is growing in Washington that well could result in another presidential impeachment. As stupid as the current troubles surrounding Donald Trump might seem, they fail the Stupid Test standard established by CREEP.

When the burglars broke into the DNC office on June 17, 1972, the Republican president already was headed toward a smashing re-election victory. The Democrats later that summer nominated Sen. George McGovern, who then went on to lose to Nixon in a landslide. Nixon carried 49 states, rolled up 521 electoral votes, trounced McGovern by 23 percent in the balloting.

Yet the CREEP moguls thought it was worth their time to rifle through the DNC files to look for additional dirt on the Democratic Party and on McGovern.

I cannot fathom a more stupidly conceived crime than the one concocted by CREEP and the Republican Party establishment.

There can be no way yet to determine how the Donald Trump drama is going to end up. I want him out of office at the earliest possible opportunity. Whether it’s through impeachment and conviction in a Senate trial or by the next presidential election that is still about 500-some days away, it makes no difference to me.

In the annals of stupid scandals, though, the stupidity standard was set 47 years ago when those bozos broke into the DNC, only to allow Richard Nixon’s penchant for paranoia to doom his presidency.

Big crowds don’t necessarily mean big vote totals

I must offer a word of caution to Beto O’Rourke’s fans who take great pride in the size of the crowds the U.S. senatorial candidate is drawing as he stumps his way across Texas.

The Democratic challenger to Sen. Ted Cruz has my vote. I want him to win in a big way. Cruz hasn’t distinguished himself as a champion for Texas causes and interests; he’s more fixated on his own ambition.

Having said that, Cruz must be considered the favorite to win re-election. Yes, polling indicates a close race. However, Texas is a Republican state. O’Rourke has to to overtake The Cruz Missile quickly and open up a bit of a spread between the two of them.

How does he do that? Well, he is drawing big crowds at rallies in rural Texas. Let me caution O’Rourke’s faithful followers: Big crowds don’t necessarily translate to a winning trajectory.

Example given: the 1972 presidential campaign of Sen. George McGovern.

I was a campus coordinator for Sen. McGovern in my native Oregon. I had returned from the Army in 1970. I was disillusioned about our Vietnam War policy. I spent some time in the war zone and came away confused and somewhat embittered.

I wanted Sen. McGovern to defeat President Nixon. He drew big crowds all across the nation as he campaigned for the presidency. They were vocal, boisterous, optimistic.

My task in college was to register new voters. We got a lot of new voters on the rolls that year. I was proud of my contribution.

On Election Night, it was over … just like that. The president was re-elected in a landslide. 520 electoral votes to 17. He won about 60 percent of the popular vote.

The big crowds, including a huge rally in the final days in downtown Portland, didn’t mean a damn thing!

Will history repeat itself in Texas in 2018? Oh, man, I hope not!

Recalling a great discussion among friends

This video is among my all-time favorite public television news broadcasts. It features a PBS NewsHour discussion with the late U.S. Sens. George McGovern and Barry Goldwater.

A liberal (McGovern) and a conservative (Goldwater) talked political differences between them and sought to put the 1988 presidential campaign into some sort of civil and proper perspective.

The moderator was Jim Lehrer, a fellow whose acquaintance I made while I was working in Beaumont many years ago. More on that perhaps at another time.

What Sens. McGovern and Goldwater sought to do in this discussion is delineate the differences between their respective philosophies. What is so remarkable is how much common ground these two old men had found and how they believed they found it when they served together in the U.S. Senate.

How did they manage such commonality? Well, they didn’t talk about it in their PBS interview, but I have a theory.

Their common respect was forged in their common history and their shared sacrifice during a time of dire peril for the United States.

McGovern and Goldwater served in the U.S. Army Air Corps during World War II. They both served heroically during that conflict. They brought their commonality together when they ended up in the Senate together. McGovern represented South Dakota, Goldwater represented Arizona.

They were far from the only two men of disparate philosophies to forge friendships in the Congress during their time together. I think often of how Sen. Bob Dole developed a unbreakable bond with Sen. Daniel Inouye; Dole is a Kansas conservative, Inouye was a Hawaii liberal. They, too, became brothers in arms in World War II, both suffering grievous battlefield injuries and going through rehab together. Their common suffering became their bond and it overrode whatever political differences they had while serving in the Senate.

Vietnam produced similar friendships that transcended partisan politics. I’ll cite two examples: Sens. John McCain and John Kerry both served with valor and distinction during the Vietnam War. McCain is a Republican; Kerry is a Democrat. They both worked in tandem to allow the United States and Vietnam to establish diplomatic ties long after the end of that terrible and divisive conflict.

These men all knew the meaning of sacrifice for the sake of the country they all loved.

As George McGovern told Barry Goldwater during that 15-minute PBS discussion, they have much more in common now than they did in the old days. Yes, but the common experience they brought with them to their shared public service taught them to respect the other’s point of view, that the “enemy” didn’t sit in the same legislative chamber.

Is this the year to give campaign cash?

I have had an active interest in politics for 50 years.

It probably began the moment I shook U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy’s hand late one night in the parking lot of a trendy Chinese restaurant just before the 1968 Oregon Democratic Party presidential election.

I wasn’t old enough to vote that year. My first vote came four years later when I cast my first presidential ballot for Sen. George McGovern.

In those five decades, though, I’ve never given money to a political candidate. Not for president. Or U.S. Senate. Or House of Reps. Or governor. Or any other state or local office.

My career path precluded that level of political activity. As a journalist in Oregon and then in Texas, I simply could not in good conscience support a candidate with money.

I never took the oath of political abstinence that many in my craft have pursued. I always voted. Many other reporters and editors have vowed never to cast a vote for a candidate in an effort to maintain some level of objectivity when covering these politicians … or commenting on them.

I’ve long understood that voting is a private matter. We cast our ballots in secret. We are not obligated to divulge for whom we’ve voted.

I departed full-time journalism in August 2012, which means I got to vote in another presidential election that year. I did so again in 2016. In between, I voted in the 2014 midterm election and have voted already in the 2018 primary; I intend fully to cast a ballot this year in the fall election.

I am facing a bit of a quandary. There are some political candidates I like — a lot! Whether I prefer them over their opponents enough to give them money remains an open question.

One disclosure I need to make: One 2018 candidate for public office, the U.S. House, is a close personal friend, a man for whom I have the highest regard. If anyone is going to get some of my dough, he is likely to be the one.

About the closest I’ve come to donating to politicians is at tax-filing time; I routinely dedicate a portion of my tax returns to public campaign financing, which I support in the strongest terms possible.

My interest in politics only has grown over the past 50 years. Even though I haven’t yet emptied my wallet. This might be the year.

Watergate: Dumbest scandal in U.S. history

Many of us are going to mark the 45th anniversary of the start of the Watergate scandal in varying ways.

Those of us of a certain age might take time to reflect on what I consider to be the most stupid, unnecessary and ridiculous political scandal of the 20th century.

On June 17, 1972, five idiots broke into the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C.; they rifled through some cabinets, pilfered some papers and then left.

Then came the cover-up. President Nixon sought to call off the investigation being done by the FBI. It all led to the president’s pending impeachment and then his resignation from office.

Why so stupid? So pointless? So needless?

Because the president was en route to a smashing re-election victory later that year. On Nov. 7, 1972, Nixon was re-elected with a 49-state landslide over Sen. George McGovern. He won more than 60 percent of the popular vote: 47 million votes to 29 million votes. That’s an 18-million vote margin!

Every political expert in America knew Nixon would win. They knew he’d win big. Sen. McGovern didn’t have a prayer. I received my political baptism that year working for McGovern in my home state of Oregon, helping register first-time voters among college students in Multnomah County. I, too, was a college student. I also had separated from the Army in August 1970 and had served for a time in Vietnam. I wanted the war to end and I supported McGovern’s candidacy.

But McGovern’s candidacy was doomed. Nixon’s team knew it. So did McGovern’s team.

I am left to wonder 45 years after that ridiculous break-in: What in the hell did the Committee to Re-Elect the President hope to gain from such a stupid stunt?

CREEP blew it, causing their guy — the president — to try to cover it up and it all cost him his job as leader of the free world. And for what purpose?

If they ever create a college curriculum to study “Stupid Political Scandals,” Watergate must serve as the all-time benchmark for stupidity.

Needing help accepting this outcome … fully

o-donald-trump-facebook

A friend of mine has acknowledged a greater-than-normal disappointment in the presidential election result.

He said he’s having trouble accepting that Donald J. Trump is now the president-elect of the United States of America.

I am now going to admit the same thing.

Just as my friend said, I’ve voted for losing presidential candidates many times over the years. I’ve voted in 12 presidential elections, dating back to 1972. My record as of Nov. 8 is now 5-7 … that’s five winners and seven losers.

I know how it feels to be on the losing side.

This one is different than all the rest of them. It’s even different from my first vote, when Sen. George McGovern got smashed to smithereens in a 49-state blowout to President Nixon. I was young, full of piddle and vinegar, just home from service in the Army, newly married and I worked my butt off in my hometown to elect a good and decent man to the presidency.

It’s not that I believe Trump was inferior to his chief opponent, Hillary Rodham Clinton. It’s deeper than that. He’s patently unfit for the office. I will maintain that belief more than likely for the entire time he serves as president.

That could change. Trump could prove me wrong. He could turn out to be a quick study. He could muster some semblance of the decorum needed to serve as head of state and the leader of our government. Trump could actually grasp the concept of limited presidential power and he could accede to the will of another co-equal branch of government, the one on Capitol Hill, aka Congress.

I cannot get past the notion, though, that he’s going to try to run roughshod over the system. That he’s going to do some incredibly stupid things, issue some incompetent — or unlawful — orders.

I want none of that to happen. I want the new president to succeed. In some perverse way, I’m actually pulling for him. I know that sounds like a huge contradiction, given what I’ve written already in this post, along with what I’ve stated in countless previous posts on this blog.

It’s not. I have declared already that I do not subscribe to the hope that he will fail. Presidential failure means failure for the entire country. I will not forsake my citizenship; I won’t move to another nation. I will stay put and speak out whenever I feel like it. I’ll praise the good things Trump does and will criticize the bad.

So help me, I cannot yet come to grips with the notion that this guy — the former reality TV celebrity, the hotel mogul, the guy who admits to cheating on his wives, who acknowledges seeking to impose his sexual will on women, who mocked a physically disabled reporter, denigrated Gold Star parents and flung insults at opponents — is about to become the 45th president of the United States.

It’s not like the previous times I’ve voted for the losing candidate. Yes, I know Trump won the election fair and square. I accept the fact that he won the required number of electoral votes. And yes … he will be my president.

I’m just having trouble moving forward and putting the result behind me.

Do I need an intervention?