Tuesday, February 16, 2016

what 1968 taught me

Don't get nervous.  Not all of my posts are going to be political.  Give me this one and maybe one more, then I'll go on to another topic.  It's just that it won't be too many more months until I'm starting my eighth decade, and I have all this elderly-statesman wisdom to impart!

Picture it:  April 1968.  I get drafted into the Army at the height of the Vietnam War.  LBJ had just announced that he would not run for re-election so that he could theoretically concentrate on ending the war, a war that he had botched big time and that now most people (including me, of course) were against.  One of the main reasons I even let myself be drafted was because Bobby Kennedy was running for the Democratic nomination on a platform against the war and had an excellent chance of winning the general election in November, so the end of the war seemed to be in sight.

Early June 1968:  While I'm still struggling through Basic Training, Bobby Kennedy is assassinated in Los Angeles, throwing me and millions of other Americans into panic and grief.

June through November 1968:  Eugene McCarthy and, to a lesser extent, George McGovern step in to carry the anti-war banner and challenge the presumed mainstream candidate, Hubert Humphrey, an amazing public servant with experience second to none, who just happened to be in the awkward spot of being LBJ's Vice President at a time when Johnson's approval ratings were in the toilet.  The Party split, there were riots at the Democratic Convention, Humphrey was picketed by the McCarthy people throughout the campaign, and he lost to Richard Nixon by a small margin in November.

Hubert Humphrey, I have no doubt, would have made a great President.  Instead we got Nixon, ironically campaigning on a pledge to end the war, and he and his fellow criminal Henry Kissinger kept the Vietnam War going another six years or so, at the same time ruining Cambodia for at least a generation.

As much as I liked Gene McCarthy, did he and his we're-not-going-to-take-No-for-an-answer followers, by doing much harm to the Democratic nominee, help give the election to Nixon, thereby harming their own cause?  You tell me.


Unknown said...

Howard...it is SO GOOD to have you back!

Howard said...

Thank you, Mary!!