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1968 Presidential Upstart McCarthy Dies.
AP ^ | By FREDERIC J. FROMMER

Posted on 12/11/2005 12:22:08 AM PST by Goldwater-Reagan Republican

WASHINGTON - Former Minnesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy, whose insurgent campaign toppled a sitting president in 1968 and forced the Democratic Party to take seriously his message against the Vietnam War, died Saturday. He was 89.

McCarthy died in his sleep at assisted living home in the Georgetown neighborhood where he had lived for the past few years, said his son, Michael.

Eugene McCarthy challenged President Lyndon B. Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination during growing debate over the Vietnam War. The challenge led to Johnson's withdrawal from the race.

The former college professor, who ran for president five times in all, was in some ways an atypical politician, a man with a witty, erudite speaking style who wrote poetry in his spare time and was the author of several books.

"He was thoughtful and he was principled and he was compassionate and he had a good sense of humor," his son said.

When Eugene McCarthy ran for president in 1992, he explained his decision to leave the seclusion of his home in rural Woodville, Va., for the campaign trail by quoting Plutarch, the ancient Greek historian: "They are wrong who think that politics is like an ocean voyage or military campaign, something to be done with some particular end in view."

McCarthy got less than 1 percent of the vote in 1992 in New Hampshire, the state where he helped change history 24 years earlier.

Helped by his legion of idealistic young volunteers known as "clean-for-Gene kids," McCarthy got 42 percent of the vote in the state's 1968 Democratic primary. That showing embarrassed Johnson into withdrawing from the race and throwing his support to his vice president, Hubert H. Humphrey.

Sen. Robert Kennedy of New York also decided to seek the nomination, but was assassinated in June 1968. McCarthy and his followers went to the party convention in Chicago, where fellow Minnesotan Humphrey won the nomination amid bitter strife both on the convention floor and in the streets.

Humphrey went on to narrowly lose the general election to Richard Nixon. The racial, social and political tensions within the Democratic Party in 1968 have continued to affect presidential politics ever since.

"It was a tragic year for the Democratic Party and for responsible politics, in a way," McCarthy said in a 1988 interview.

"There were already forces at work that might have torn the party apart anyway — the growing women's movement, the growing demands for greater racial equality, an inability to incorporate all the demands of a new generation.

"But in 1968, the party became a kind of unrelated bloc of factions... each refusing accommodation with another, each wanting control at the expense of all the others."

Although he supported the Korean War, McCarthy said he opposed the Vietnam War because "as it went on, you could tell the people running it didn't know what was going on."

"I admired Gene enormously for his courage in challenging a war America never should have fought," Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (news, bio, voting record), D-Mass., said Saturday.

Drawing a parallel to the current debate over the Iraq war, Kennedy said, "His life speaks volumes to us today, as we face a similar critical time for our country."

Former Sen. George McGovern, D-S.D., said McCarthy's presidential run in 1968 dramatically changed the antiwar movement.

"It was no longer a movement of concerned citizens, but became a national political movement," McGovern said Saturday. "He was an inspiration to me in all of my life in politics." McGovern won the 1972 Democratic presidential nomination, when McCarthy ran a second time.

Former Sen. John Edwards, D-N.C., who ran for vice president in 2004, said McCarthy "was a remarkable American, a man who spoke his conscience, and he was a great leader for my party."

In recent years, McCarthy was critical of campaign finance reform, winning him an unlikely award from the Conservative Political Action Conference in 2000.

In an interview when he got the award, McCarthy said money helped him in the 1968 race. "We had a few big contributors," he said. "And that's true of any liberal movement. In the American Revolution, they didn't get matching funds from George III."

After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, McCarthy said the United States was partly to blame for ignoring the plight of Palestinians.

"You let a thing like that fester for 45 years, you have to expect something like this to happen," he said in an interview at the time. "No one at the White House has shown any concern for the Palestinians."

In a 2004 biography, "Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism," British historian Dominic Sandbrook painted an unflattering portrait of McCarthy, calling him lazy and jealous, among other things. McCarthy, Sandbrook wrote, "willfully courted the reputation of frivolous maverick."

In McCarthy's 1998 book, "No-Fault Politics," editor Keith C. Burris described McCarthy in the introduction as "a Catholic committed to social justice but a skeptic about reform, about do-gooders, about the power of the state and the competence of government, and about the liberal reliance upon material cures for social problems."

McCarthy was born March 29, 1916, in Watkins, a central Minnesota town of about 750. He earned degrees from St. John's University in Collegeville, Minn., and the University of Minnesota.

He was a teacher, a civilian War Department employee and college economics and sociology instructor before turning to politics. He once spent a year in a monastery.

He was elected to the House in 1948. Ten years later he was elected to the Senate and re-elected in 1964. McCarthy left the Senate in 1970 and devoted much of his time to writing poetry, essays and books.

With a sardonic sense of humor, McCarthy needled whatever establishment was in power. In 1980 he endorsed Republican Ronald Reagan with the argument that anyone was better than incumbent Jimmy Carter, a Democrat.

On his 85th birthday in 2001, McCarthy told the Star Tribune of Minneapolis that President Bush was an amateur and said he could not even bear to watch his inauguration.

In an interview a month before the 2003 invasion of Iraq, McCarthy compared the Bush administration with the characters in the William Golding novel "Lord of the Flies," in which a group of boys stranded on an island turn to savagery.

"The bullies are running it," McCarthy said. "Bush is bullying everything."

McCarthy was an advocate for a third-party movement, arguing there was no real difference between Republicans and Democrats.

In 2000, he wrote a political satire called "An American Bestiary," illustrated by Chris Millis, in which high-level advisers are portrayed as park pigeons — "they strut and waddle" — and reporters are compared with black birds who flock together.

He blamed the media for deciding who is and is not a serious candidate and suggested he should have kept his 1992 candidacy a secret, since announcing it publicly did no good.

McCarthy also ran for president in 1972, 1976 and 1988.

For McCarthy, the 1950s and 1960s were the Democratic Party's high points because it pushed the Civil Rights Act through Congress and championed national health insurance programs such as Medicare and Medicaid.

"I think he probably would consider his work in civil rights legislation in the 1960s to be his greatest contribution," his son said Saturday.

The bad times, Eugene McCarthy said, began with America's increased involvement in the Vietnam War and the simultaneous failure of some of Johnson's Great Society social programs.

Instead of giving people a chance to earn a living, McCarthy said, the Great Society "became affirmative action and more welfare. It was an admission the New Deal had failed or fallen."

In recent years McCarthy had lived at Georgetown Retirement Residence, an assisted living center in Washington. He and his wife, Abigail, separated after the 1968 election. She died in 2001.

Survivors include daughters Ellen and Margaret and six grandchildren, Michael McCarthy said.

A private burial is planned for next week and a memorial service in Washington will be scheduled, Michael McCarthy said.


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Government; Miscellaneous; News/Current Events; Politics/Elections; US: District of Columbia; US: Minnesota; US: Virginia
KEYWORDS: 1968; 60s; bush; civilrightsact; conservativedemocrat; democrat; eugenejmccarthy; eugenemccarthy; goodriddance; history; leftist; liberal; lyndonbjohnson; mccarthy; mcgovern; newleft; obituary; poetry; reagan; republican; rpesident; usa; vietnam; vietnamwar; war
In 1980 he endorsed Republican Ronald Reagan with the argument that anyone was better than incumbent Jimmy Carter, a Democrat.

At least, was right on this... may he rest in Peace.

1 posted on 12/11/2005 12:22:10 AM PST by Goldwater-Reagan Republican
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To: Goldwater-Reagan Republican

To his credit, he forced LBJ out of office.


2 posted on 12/11/2005 12:34:17 AM PST by RTINSC (Being Offended is the Natural Consequence of Leaving Your Home...)
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To: All

3 posted on 12/11/2005 12:47:07 AM PST by Goldwater-Reagan Republican
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To: Goldwater-Reagan Republican

The media will only talk about Richard Pryor


4 posted on 12/11/2005 1:35:32 AM PST by Seven Minute Maniac
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To: Goldwater-Reagan Republican
After the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, McCarthy said the United States was partly to blame for ignoring the plight of Palestinians.

"You let a thing like that fester for 45 years, you have to expect something like this to happen," he said in an interview at the time. "No one at the White House has shown any concern for the Palestinians."

What a scumbag. It looks like Mohammed Atta has found a new roommate.

5 posted on 12/11/2005 1:59:12 AM PST by LdSentinal
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To: RTINSC
To his credit? Just think what would happen if he won --- you'd probably want LBJ back.

You line of reasoning has dangerous consequences and has been followed before: Germans sighed with relief when "Hitler -- to his credit, whatever his weaknesses are --- at least forced the previous government out of office."

6 posted on 12/11/2005 2:11:42 AM PST by TopQuark
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To: Seven Minute Maniac

I had the same reaction. Drudge headlines the demise of Pryor whose contribution to the country was to ratchet up vulgarity. It reminds me of the deaths of Princess Diana and Mother Teresa, the latter almost overlooked at the time in the hysteria over Diana.


7 posted on 12/11/2005 2:12:42 AM PST by Malesherbes
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To: TopQuark

I appreciate your concern about my dangerous line of reasoning. McCarthy didn't have a remote chance at winning the presidency. If McCarthy had been elected President, your comment would make sense. Comparing this statement to praises of relief that Hitler forced out the previous government, is a reach.


8 posted on 12/11/2005 2:56:05 AM PST by RTINSC (Being Offended is the Natural Consequence of Leaving Your Home...)
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To: Goldwater-Reagan Republican
"... he opposed the Vietnam War because "as it went on, you could tell the people running it didn't know what was going on.""

If he would have specifically said "Johnson and McNamera didn't know what was going on" I could agree with him.

9 posted on 12/11/2005 3:20:40 AM PST by LZ_Bayonet
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To: RTINSC
If McCarthy had . been elected President, your comment would make sense. Comparing this statement to praises of relief that Hitler forced out the previous government, is a reach.

Please, let me assure you, there was no offense intended on my part. To make a point, it helps to present it in the clearest, hence often extreme, form We may disagree on that, but I assure you that no offense was intended, so please don't take any.

10 posted on 12/11/2005 3:29:39 AM PST by TopQuark
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To: Goldwater-Reagan Republican

McCarthy would have been a terrible President. He was extremely egotistical and his policy prescriptions were often bizarre.

That being said, I have a lot of nostalgia for McCarthy's 1968 campaign. He bumped off singlehandedly an incumbent President from his own party; that takes guts and energy no matter how you view him.

I guess I'm glad America produces politicians like McCarthy -- real individualists who often make a difference, no matter that they'd be terrible Presidents if they ever got elected.


11 posted on 12/11/2005 4:43:36 AM PST by Poundstone
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To: Goldwater-Reagan Republican
Instead of giving people a chance to earn a living, McCarthy said, the Great Society "became affirmative action and more welfare. It was an admission the New Deal had failed or fallen."

That was an amazing comment.

12 posted on 12/11/2005 4:48:09 AM PST by Dr. Scarpetta
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To: LZ_Bayonet
"If he would have specifically said "Johnson and McNamera didn't know what was going on" I could agree with him."

The problem is that the lying, weasels DID know what was going on. McNamara confessed to this finally in a self serving book he wrote several years ago.

LBJ/McNamara/Clifford and all the rest deliberately prevented us from winning in order to have enough money for their (failed) Great Society Program. By the way that is where your Social Security money went too. Johnson and the DemocRATS dumped the Social Security trust fund into the "general revenues" of the Budget.Spent every damn dime of it too.

13 posted on 12/11/2005 5:30:28 AM PST by Jimmy Valentine (DemocRATS - when they speak, they lie; when they are silent, they are stealing the American Dream)
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To: LdSentinal
"No one at the White House has shown any concern for the Palestinians."

Not true, but if it were true the problem with this would be ...?

I have no concern for a terrorist state bent on destroying Israel and other "infidels".

If it were up to me, the Muslims would truly live as a "religion of peace" like the rest of us ... or die.

Fortunately for the world President Bush shows a lot more diplomacy than I would.

14 posted on 12/11/2005 5:51:57 AM PST by manwiththehands ("Have a RamaHanuKwanzMas" - Glenn Beck (And Merry Christmas!))
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To: Poundstone

>I guess I'm glad America produces politicians like McCarthy -- real individualists who often make a difference, no matter that they'd be terrible Presidents if they ever got elected.<

Substitute the name, "Perot" for "McCarthy" in the above sentence.


15 posted on 12/11/2005 6:08:59 AM PST by Darnright (Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.)
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To: Darnright
Actually Perot inflicted more damage to conservatism, than all the liberal Presidents in the second half of the 19th century. If Bush I had won, many things wouldn't have happened (terrorism in America) and our Supreme Court would have already turned to reason.
16 posted on 12/11/2005 7:18:44 AM PST by Goldwater-Reagan Republican
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To: Goldwater-Reagan Republican

It's interesting to speculate what would have happened had Perot kept out of the race. Would we just have put Clinton and the damage he did off 4 years? Knowing what we do now, Clinton is nothing if not one of the most ambitious individuals to hit American politics in modern times.


17 posted on 12/11/2005 8:13:54 AM PST by Darnright (Remember that a lone amateur built the Ark. A large group of professionals built the Titanic.)
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To: Darnright

That's a good point. The thought of Clinton possibly winning in 1996 for the first time is scary: he very well might have won re-election in 2000 and we would've had him in charge on 9/11. Not quite as scary as Al Gore being in the White House on 9/11 but still not a pleasant thought.


18 posted on 12/11/2005 9:43:27 AM PST by sassbox (Weis, Weis, Baby!)
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To: Goldwater-Reagan Republican
"Actually Perot inflicted more damage to conservatism, than all the liberal Presidents in the second half of the 19th century. If Bush I had won, many things wouldn't have happened (terrorism in America) and our Supreme Court would have already turned to reason."

If Bush I had shown some guts in dealing with the Middle Eastern extremists as well as Saddam, he would have been reelected. I voted for Perot in 1992 because a) Bush didn't deserve reelection; b) Clinton was a weaselly idiot; and c) my state, Maryland, was going to go Democratic anyway, so I didn't waste my vote. (Electoral votes, remember?)

Bush I suffered the bad habits of the moderate GOPers.
19 posted on 12/11/2005 10:11:09 AM PST by GAB-1955 (being dragged, kicking and screaming, into the Kingdom of Heaven....)
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To: Jimmy Valentine
"The problem is that the lying, weasels DID know what was going on. McNamara confessed to this finally in a self serving book he wrote several years ago."

I wouldn't buy his book but did search through it at a bookstore when it came out. The only thing I was interested in was what he had to say about why we didn't launch ground assaults, by land or sea, into North Vietnam in order to force them to leave troops behind to protect their territory. The only thing I found was a statement to the effect that that tactic was never a serious option. Of course without using that option we were fighting the war on their terms. Johnson and McNamera, limiting and micro-managing the war, what a team. Notice the MSM never pushed the invasion option either.

20 posted on 12/11/2005 2:19:08 PM PST by LZ_Bayonet
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To: Seven Minute Maniac

Pryor had less poison in him.


21 posted on 12/11/2005 2:30:19 PM PST by 185JHP ( "The thing thou purposest shall come to pass: And over all thy ways the light shall shine.")
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