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Former Senator Eugene McCarthy dead at 89
December 10, 2005 2:37 PM   Subscribe

Former Senator Eugene McCarthy dead at 89
posted by nathan_teske (47 comments total)

 
.!
posted by lometogo at 2:50 PM on December 10, 2005


Clooney finished him off!?
posted by muckster at 3:00 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by brundlefly at 3:00 PM on December 10, 2005


Wong McCarthy!

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posted by muckster at 3:01 PM on December 10, 2005


Not McCarthyism-McCarthy, even.
posted by Gator at 3:01 PM on December 10, 2005


Well. Now it's just waiting on #3.
posted by kjh at 3:10 PM on December 10, 2005


(Joe McCarthy died of acute hepatitis due to alcoholism...which also couldn't have been helped by his reported morphine addiction...in 1957. He was 48. He was a Republican Senator from Wisconsin and was, easily, very different than Eugene McCarthy. But they both served in the Senate from 1949 through 1957.)
posted by jeanmari at 3:23 PM on December 10, 2005


Great, great man.
posted by my sock puppet account at 3:30 PM on December 10, 2005


A bad day for losing big-hearted men.

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posted by melissa may at 3:36 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by jlkr at 3:38 PM on December 10, 2005


A sad day. We've just lost the last true Democrat.
posted by unreason at 3:42 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by tozturk at 3:56 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by 3.2.3 at 3:58 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by amberglow at 3:59 PM on December 10, 2005


. unreason nailled it.
posted by Smart Dalek at 4:01 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by archaic at 4:01 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by elquien at 4:31 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by Ber at 4:35 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by nevercalm at 4:37 PM on December 10, 2005


The Hump's been Dumped?

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posted by orthogonality at 4:39 PM on December 10, 2005


Tomorrow, I will shave to be Clean For Gene.
posted by jonmc at 4:40 PM on December 10, 2005


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both great men. wish we were as familiar with McCarthy as we were with Pryor though
posted by squirrely at 5:00 PM on December 10, 2005


I saved a Gene McCarthy daisy bumpersticker from my teen peacenik envelope-licking days...and a couple of years ago said what the hell, put it on my truck...where I hope it gave a few ex-antiwar geezers a deja vu moment before I tore off the remaining remnants last week and tried to remove the remaining daisy impression with various solvents...damn.
posted by kozad at 5:08 PM on December 10, 2005


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A wise, honest man who spoke the truth. We need more people like that in government.

There are still a few like Dean and Kucinich who have some of the right stuff left.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:16 PM on December 10, 2005


89 is a good run.
posted by StickyCarpet at 5:21 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by fixedgear at 6:14 PM on December 10, 2005


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Please don't put Dean and a real man like Kucinich in the same sentence.
posted by xmutex at 6:15 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by briank at 6:24 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by moonbird at 6:32 PM on December 10, 2005




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posted by matteo at 6:35 PM on December 10, 2005


Respectfully, it's neither the time nor the place xmutex.

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posted by Space Kitty at 7:03 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by Skygazer at 7:50 PM on December 10, 2005


I was eleven years old in 1968, old enough to realize that the VietNam war had divided our country, but not old enough to understand why. I learned later how Senator McCarthy's Quixotic candidacy galvanized an entire generation who still believed that our country could be healed by working within the political process. Humphrey won the Democratic primary, and Nixon won the election on his 'Peace with honor' platform, and things went from bad to much worse with the escalation of the war into Cambodia, the Kent State killings, and the deaths of thousands more American soldiers.

Senator McCarthy was a great man who had the courage to campaign on a platform of 'bring them home now.' And he was vilified by the right wing for that position. That war divided and polarized our country in a devastating way - and it's painful to watch the process repeating itself. When are we going to learn that war is not the answer?
posted by wadefranklin at 8:42 PM on December 10, 2005


RIP.
posted by russilwvong at 9:33 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by trip and a half at 10:05 PM on December 10, 2005


*
posted by pruner at 10:09 PM on December 10, 2005


There are few truly great living men in American politics. Now there is one less.
posted by psmealey at 10:59 PM on December 10, 2005


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posted by ScotchLynx at 11:13 PM on December 10, 2005


Sad...but I had to spend all day explaining to family and friends exactly who he was and wasn't ("Wrong McCarthy!" indeed).
posted by UseyurBrain at 11:41 PM on December 10, 2005


I was Clean for Gene in '68: short hair, ironed shirt, the whole bit. Manned the phone lines, talked to people all over California. That was the high point of my involvement in electoral politics; in '72 I knew my man didn't have a hope in hell (though I could never figure out why the press ignored Watergate when it happened—I thought it was a big story the minute I saw the news about the break-in), and by '76 I was an anarchist. Gene will always be a hero to me (and Bobby Kennedy a villain), despite later developments and more mature understanding; I think that's why I keep forgetting he supported Reagan in '80 (I was shocked all over again when I saw it in the obit). We won't see his like again.
posted by languagehat at 6:24 AM on December 11, 2005


Well said unreason.
posted by bjgeiger at 6:37 AM on December 11, 2005


I was Clean for Gene in '68:

hey! you can't possibly write only two lines about that: we want paragraphs, man! as somebody who was born post-1968 I'm totally interested in oral history.
as for me -- and I freely admit my pro-Kennedy bias -- I've always considered McCarthy as

a) the kind of Adlai Stevenson oh-so-smart and more than a littlem self-obsessed candidate who, not that mysteriously, will never win a national election, evar

b) part of the two men team (the other guy was Sirhan Sirhan) who accomplishe the miracle of sending a political pariah like that "You won't have Nixon to kick around anymore" guy to the White House
posted by matteo at 8:25 AM on December 11, 2005


Well, anyone who hated the Kennedys can't be all bad.
/gently meant
posted by Smedleyman at 8:39 AM on December 11, 2005


Well. Now it's just waiting on #3.

I wonder how George McGovern's doing lately? I momentarily confused him with McCarthy.
posted by alumshubby at 9:38 AM on December 11, 2005


> b) part of the two men team (the other guy was Sirhan Sirhan) who accomplishe
> the miracle of sending a political pariah like that "You won't have Nixon to kick
> around anymore" guy to the White House

Brit historian Dominic Sandbrook (Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism) sees McC pretty much as you do. Louis Menend summarizes his take in his (Menand's) New Yorker review:

He finds McCarthy sour, aloof, unfeeling, and inconstant, and he comes very close to blaming him personally for the election of Richard Nixon and the rise of the Republican right. He concludes his discussion of the 1968 election by remarking, “Had it not been for McCarthy’s campaign, it is possible that Johnson or Humphrey might have been elected. . . . Voters did not in fact treat the election in November as a referendum on Vietnam, and given that they chose Nixon as their next president, it can easily be argued that McCarthy ultimately failed.” And he concludes his book with the comment “There is not always honor in failure.”

Menand himself disagrees:

Whatever McCarthy’s shortcomings—and even in the period of his lionization a streak of contrariness was evident in his nature—he did not lose the White House for the Democrats. Johnson and Humphrey lost the White House, and they did it because they stubbornly pursued a bad policy, and they prevaricated about it.

One notices something, uh, familiar about those last two comma clauses. But if the current President were going to encounter a modern McCarthy or RFK, the Dems would have to have produced him in 2004. Instead they produced a modern Humphrey. Though my own choices (Nader, believe it or not--tree-hugging trumps everything--and, faut de Ralph [he didn't make the ballot in my state] the Libertarian Michael "letters of marque and repraisal" Badnarik) obviously weren't very successful in the white-knight department.
posted by jfuller at 10:10 AM on December 11, 2005


I met him once at the Eugene V. Debs memorial kazoo night at Tiger Stadium in Detroit. No joke.
posted by mert at 10:13 AM on December 11, 2005


jfuller:

from what I've read -- as I've said I have no personal recollection, being born after the facts -- McCarthy is really striking for a certain kind of aloofness, of "well, I'm above this day-to-day campaign shit" (the devotion of the "Clean for Gene" crowd notwithstanding) that never ever helped a serious candidate in US national elections.

Bobby, for all his stubborness and thuggishness, was

a) a much warmer candidate -- the tousled hair, the toothy grin, the rolled-up sleeves, the walks on the beach with his dog are not just a Kennedy cliché, back then Bobby was writing the media playbook politicians are still using nowadays (except when, as in the case of Kerry's windsurfing, their handlers fall asleep at the campaign's wheel)

b) one who seemed to care more about winning (even with all his post-Dallas crushing sorrow, he never really seemed to completely lose the mean streak that he needed as his brother's enforcer in the Fifties). and if you wanted to stop the war, you needed a candidate who was capable of winning.

instead, even after Bobby's murder, McCarthy's ability in losing momentum and his inability to regain it remains almost unparalleled (please correct me if I'm wrong) in modern US campaign history (Dukakis blew a monster lead, but people never really liked him the way they liked McCarthy). and I'm not an historian, but I seem to remember that McCarthy didn't really help poor HHH that much. maybe he had already turned all Reagan-loving by fall '68, poor Gene.
posted by matteo at 10:48 AM on December 11, 2005


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