Monday, December 31, 2007

Personal Asides: Message to Lawrence…It’s Been a Very Good Year



My friend, you have all of us who read or correspond on this website at a disadvantage. People who write messages on Reader’s Comments sign their full names. You’re the only one who does not. Yet you say I know you or imagine I do. You seem to know a great deal about me but I haven’t a clue who you are. Therefore I would like to sit down with you so as to get your full bill of particulars so I may respond and share insights with you. You have a point of view and I’d like to hear you speak about it personally. Please leave your full name and where I can contact you on my personal email. Thanks.

2007: A Very Good Year.

The year 2007 was a very good year for conservatives. The reasons: First, the Iraq surge is working: the way you can tell is that its doleful reporting is not taking place on the drive-by media’s front pages or in broadcast news. The Democratic-led House voted 223-201 for massive troop withdrawal from Iraq but six days later the Democratic Senate rejected a similar bill allowing the surge to take place. I am confident George W. Bush will be cherished on a high, very high, plane in the sweep of history—higher than that of Harry Truman whose revision came more from sentimental liberal historians than from the fact when the loss of China, the Korean War caused by failure of Dean Acheson to include it in the perimeter of our defenses and the spectacular corruption in office of so many Truman appointees. The only saving grace was the Marshall Plan and aid to Greece and Turkey..

Second, the field of presidential candidates on the Republican side is insuperably better than on the Democratic. Just to list them with their experience shows the difference—John McCain who seems to have come into his own as the issues center on foreign and military policy. He seemingly alone said the surge would work and it has…Mitt Romney who has a proven skill of administrative leadership (maybe Frank Nofsinger is right that the best ticket would be McCain and Romney)….Rudy Giuliani is a flawed vessel but has the capacity for great leadership in a Republican administration…Duncan Hunter is a natural for secretary of defense. I don’t feel anything about Fred Thompson for or against which I think reflects the tepid response he has received after the huge buildup. About Ron Paul I respect him as a man of conviction but feel he is terribly out of step with the needs of the country. However the benefits of his campaign may well dominate New Hampshire and what follows in ways we don’t foresee now. The challenge is to work his angry, discomfited and sometimes bitterly divisive libertarians into the fiber of the Republican party.

Third, contrary to the death wishes of the media the economy has not tanked.

Fourth, contrary to the death wishes of the liberals, the destructive issue of embryonic stem cells has been resolved as the front page headline of “The New York Times” said: “Scientists bypass need for embryo to get stem cells.” The newspaper that had led the push to wrest stem cells from tiny humans, killing them in the process, led the way to negate the issue. Fifth, the Democratic Congress failed to make George W. Bush irrelevant, failed to defund and thus derail the war which would have been a national disgrace.

Fifth, the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban on partial birth abortion ratified the courage of George W. Bush in naming good people to the Court. Conservatives helped him immeasurably by opposing the nomination of Harriet Miers.

Only partially satisfactory were these items: the commutation of Scooter Libby’s 30-month prison sentence by the president who felt it “excessive.” I feel that Libby’s conviction was merited under a strict construction of the evidence and validated the prosecution by Patrick Fitzgerald. But the constitutional pardoning process was installed by the founders to instill mercy. Thus I feel the president has the right—indeed, I say, the duty—to pardon him totally before Bush leaves office.

Flashback: Hubert, Losing His Nerve, a Scary Thing for a Leader, Tries to Get Johnson to Back Down and Stop the Bombing…Gene Resolves Not to Let Bobby Muscle Him Aside. The Comedy of Trying to Negotiate with Bobby. Bobby Announces. And Gene’s Ron Paul...

[More than 50 years of politics written for my kids and grandchildren].

Hubert Loses His Nerve.

As Gene McCarthy went from Washington National airport to a private meeting with Jerry Eller, Hubert Humphrey was losing his nerve. Feeling sure that Lyndon Johnson wouldn’t run again—but not being told that, exactly—and knowing he would be the nominee, Hubert panicked and tried to resolve the impasse between the peace people and the administration. The peace people had made much over the heavy plastering of North Vietnam by huge, high-flying B-52 bombers. By Spring of 1968 we were dropping up to a million pounds of explosives each day. The heat the Johnson administration was getting was similar to the heat George W. Bush and his administration received before the launch of the surge. Hubert was melting like a snow-cone in July.

Johnson was melting into puddles of uncertainty as well. It had nothing to do with Vietnam—but with his ambitious domestic program he called “The Great Society.” If Vietnam was chaotic, he couldn’t pass the measures he thought his legacy would depend on. What to do? It was to somehow pull his irons out of the fire in Vietnam so he could concentrate on his domestic program.

Trouble was, all the old Kennedy people who had had so much faith in firmness were either gone or uncertain. In hindsight, Johnson’s original view—to stick with his win-the-war objective-- was right and his frantic maneuvering to win peace wrong. The North Vietnamese had spurned his overtures for peace and when he met Ne Win, the neutralist premier of Burma, Win told him in Humphrey’s presence that the wish to strike a deal with the North Vietnamese was wrong. “You are wrong in asking for peace,” he said. “The North Vietnamese interpret that as weakness.” But the old senatorial deal-maker was scared stiff of losing the public and the congress so he came up with a plan to propose a halt in the bombing above the 20th parallel as a gesture which might lead to the beginning of negotiations. Johnson was being pushed by his close friends in the administration like Clark Clifford who had succeeded Robert MacNamara. MacNamara the epitome of the cool, corporate manager had lost his nerve and dwindled into a puddle of guilt for his role in Vietnam—which guilt has stayed with him today in his nineties.

Like Johnson, Clifford was a relativist, a wheeler-dealer, a high stakes poker player and never found anybody in his legal-political career who wasn’t ready to deal. He and Johnson were wrong about the Vietnamese. In retrospect it’s obvious if you were the North Vietnamese as Ne Win had said. Why deal now when the U.S. appears to reeling with indecision? Why not wait for the next offer?

Suggestion for the next offer came from Hubert. Panicking, Hubert came over to the White House living quarters the first Saturday after the New Hampshire primary. Johnson and he conferred in Johnson’s bedroom. What Hubert said and to which Johnson agreed underscored fundamental character weakness in both men, a weakness that may serve as the dividing-point between liberals and conservatives. Up to now with a few bobbles and twists, Hubert was on record as wanting to win in Vietnam. Now he allowed the disintegrating political situation in the United States—impacting on his own fading possibilities of election—to sway him.

Hubert said, “Mr. President” (he never called him Lyndon after the election except once when his son was in the hospital and Johnson was pushing him hard to pass the civil rights bill), “from the political view here at home, that [the pullback to the 20th parallel] is not going to do much good. What you should do is stop it all. You should cease bombing north of the 17th parallel, the border of the demilitarized zone.” That was Humphrey’s mistake. It is clear that he was allowing the domestic political situation to take precedence over the military strategy—not recognizing the truth of what the Burma premier had told them. The same fundamental weakness accrues to Johnson—even worse. Johnson as president had resolved to win the war not weaken. In fact, Johnson had received word that Tet was not the disaster the media had represented. The media were against the war and for that reason, thinking of domestic politics, both Johnson and Hubert vacillated.

To be sure there were good political reasons for their vacillations but no matter how many pragmatic convolutions one must perform to get to the presidency, it is no good if you lose your confidence in what you know is right and wallow in experiments in order to cling to power. And if Johnson had thought about it more clearly, his reputation hung on Vietnam and winning it rather than showing weakness which would torpedo his Great Society anyhow. Winning it: That’s where character comes in. Assuredly there were some mammoth pressures on Johnson---but no more than accrues in many presidencies. Where Hubert and he weakened was that the pressures were all of a domestic political nature, not jeopardizing passage of their favorite liberal domestic programs—for the resolution of which they bargained away the credibility of the nation.

Here were the domestic political pressures and worries.

. First, there was the danger that McCarthy’s good showing in New Hampshire would bring Bobby Kennedy in. Second, Hubert was worried that Martin Luther King, Jr. who was increasingly speaking out against the war, could impact the black vote. Third, Robert McNamara had crumbled under the pressure, had changed his stance from hawk to dove and had counseled the war couldn’t be won—so he resigned. Fourth, McNamara was succeeded by an old Washington wheeler-dealer, Clark Clifford, a wily lobbyist-lawyer of no fixed absolutes whatever who had saved Johnson’s neck several times in the past and was sworn to do all he could to salvage the political situation—and Clifford had concluded that the war couldn’t be won and that General William Westmoreland’s call for more troops shouldn’t be honored. Fifth, the Kerner Commission had turned in its report on civil disorders and had seen a nation split between white spread out in a suburban ring and black penned up in the inner city which pressured the administration to rectify it for political purposes overnight (which couldn’t be done). Sixth, as result of the urban violence, Alabama Governor George Wallace was touring white urban areas getting emotional backing for his campaign for president. Any efforts Johnson would make to help the blacks would be used by Wallace as fodder for the alienated white Democratic votes..

These domestic political problems were just that—domestic and political. But men of character who believe in their mission would adhere to principle—about the war and the fact that things were improving for the black condition. By then Lyndon Johnson had all but decided that he would not run again; all the more reason for him to tough it out as a lame duck. But the pressure was too much for Johnson, the old senatorial wheeler-dealer to stand without capitulating to his critics. And Hubert was the quivering heap of Jello, worried about how he could get elected. Both men who had concluded a thousand domestic political deals, felt the only hope for the Democratic party would be to conclude another one with the North Vietnamese.

As a lame duck, Johnson could have resisted all and resolved to stand tall in his war strategy. He did not have the intestinal fortitude to do it. He could have not worried whatsoever about Hubert nor a victory by Bobby Kennedy: confident that adhering to principle he, Johnson, would be justified. And he would have been justified by history far more than he has been. As for Hubert, knowing he’d be the next nominee, he would look far better in history had he measured up to the consequences of his and Johnson’s policies. As it was, Johnson didn’t run and Hubert lost. How better for Hubert had he lost fighting for principle. But no, the canny, clever old South Dakota pharmacist, writhed in agony for a wary out.

Contrast this with George W. Bush on Iraq. Sure, there were a number of mistakes surrounding our going to Iraq as there are mistakes in every war. One pretext was that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. Whether he got rid of them, shipped them to Syria or not, that conclusion turned out to be unprovable. A pretext was that the actual conquering of Saddam would be a walk in the park. Yes it was—but no one had calculated the nature of the occupation and the hazards. Just as with Vietnam, the defense secretary, Don Rumsfeld, either evidently lost heart or, if he had a winning strategy, couldn’t carry it through (I don’t know which and I mean to ask him when we meet). I know Rumsfeld personally and have not talked with him since before he took the job, but I surmise he lost confidence in our ability to win--this must have been the case. He was always reported to be on the side of holding back more troops and doubting the efficacy of greater commitment (perhaps I am wrong). Rumsfeld was fired and has not been heard from again.

All the pressures devolved upon George W. Bush. The so-called mainstream media have made him the goat and a highly unpopular president. But he didn’t weaken. He fired one top general and found a far better one in David Petraeus. He lost control of the Congress to be sure in 2006 but the excesses of the anti-war Democrats did them in and Bush began to regain his relevance: the past session of the Congress ended in failure and non-accomplishment for the Democrats.

As with 1967-68, an election in 2008 is fast coming. But Bush has held firm, has not budged and those who are determined to win in Iraq dominate the field on the Republican side: McCain, Romney, Giuliani. In the presidency, character is the difference. That was the difference in 1968 with Johnson and Humphrey. I guess the answer is this: when political power means that much to you, that you’re willing to sell out principle on a major thing, you’re in an inherently weak position.

The folly of it is (to me at least) that Johnson and Humphrey, both shrewd negotiators, but now panicky, thought that tossing a few crumbs to the North Vietnamese and the fervid liberal peace people in their party, would do the trick. They may have, like McNamara, been inwardly persuaded that the domino theory had been disproved and so this country should toss in its cards and say the hell with it. But that was not the case.

All the same, the initial pretext of domino was right. Those who said the fall of Vietnam would lead to the fall of Laos and Cambodia were right. Not in assuming the dominos would fall all throughout Southeast Asia and, as LBJ had said once, “at least down to Singapore and to Djakarta”—but right in the context of the global war with communism. No sooner had Vietnam fallen than Cuban troops appeared in Angola to help the Communist faction there and overwhelm pro-Western forces in a civil war and the pattern would be repeated the next few years with Russian advances in Ethiopia, Mozambique, South Yemen and Afghanistan. Certainly in domestic U. S. politics if Johnson had held firm and Hubert had taken the challenge, the result in 1968 would not have seriously changed. The character of these men which wilted under fire was the difference.

Gene Meets with Two Kennedys.

The day after New Hampshire, Gene got to his office, saw that he had a call from Bobby Kennedy again and arranged to meet Bobby on the fourth floor of the Old Senate Office building in Sen. Ted Kennedy’s office. To avoid reporters, Gene ducked into the Senate gym in the building’s basement, went out a back door and climbed up a staircase, doubling back to Ted Kennedy’s office where Bobby was waiting. They met for 20 minutes but nothing was resolved. Neither man liked the other. McCarthy surprisingly threw out one teaser to Bobby. He said that while he didn’t think he would get the nomination over Johnson or Hubert, if he did and got elected he would probably serve only one term, hinting that Bobby would be wise to wait to 1972 for his shot. Kennedy said the hell with that. So it broke up.

McCarthy went back to his office and announced he would enter, in addition to Wisconsin, Indiana and South Dakota primaries. Then he flew off to Wisconsin (with Abigail and Mary, their daughter) to greet his ecstatic troops who were revving up for the election on April 2. But while he was in Wisconsin, Eller and Blair Clark, huddling in Washington, thought of a way to resolve things. Let McCarthy and Kennedy divvy up the primaries so as to register the biggest possible vote against Johnson and the war and have to two, McCarthy and Kennedy, go for a showdown in California on June 4 with the winner to take on Johnson or Humphrey.

McCarthy didn’t like the idea at first but as Eller had reasoned it out, he accepted it. The next thing was to pose the idea to Kennedy. Well the 20-minute meeting with Bobby had gone so badly that Eller thought it might be better to pose the idea to Ted Kennedy. Gene agreed. Eller arranged a meeting with Ted Kennedy that night in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Eller, Blair Clark, Curtis Gans and Ted Kennedy all flew together to Chicago where they were to connect on a commercial flight to Green Bay.

Bad weather interfered and the Kennedy-Clark-Gans group chartered a Lear jet to Green Bay from Chicago using Clark’s personal credit card. By the time the Ted Kennedy party got to Gene’s hotel at 2:30 a.m., Gene had gone to bed. Abigail, Mary and Eller had a tough time getting him to get up out of bed, put on a kimono and meet with Ted Kennedy. Finally he did. Ted had brought along a reconciliation statement from Bobby but never got to take it out of his briefcase. Gene was suspicious of the briefcase; it was a double-latched affair not a valise. Gene later told me that one latch was open which to Gene meant that there was a recording device inside. Gene dismissed the talk summarily thinking he was being recorded. Whether Teddy did or not, Gene was having none of it.

Bobby would declare the next morning, said Ted; McCarthy said so what, it wouldn’t interfere with his plans. Abigail who had from the very start didn’t like the idea of Gene challenging an incumbent Democratic president nevertheless was angered with the high-handed ways of the Kennedys. So were Eller and Mary McCarthy. Here Bobby didn’t have the guts to run himself and now that Gene all but won the New Hampshire primary, there was the Little Big Man, Teddy, saying that Gene can back off now because the first team was about to take over. After all, Mary said, correctly, the problem in Vietnam was caused by John Kennedy hiking the number of U.S. troops from 700 advisers under Ike to 16,000. Now they insinuated they had claims on the presidency. Abigail agreed. “The hell with that,” she said. Bobby, she calculated as many had before and since, was a ruthless son of a bitch. Now if ands or buts about that.

The next morning, Gene got up, shaved, breakfasted with his family and with them went over to the Green Bay television station to watch Bobby announce for president from the Old Senate Caucus Room, the same spot Gene had announced 106 days earlier. Gene followed Kennedy by doing a national remote on the air from Green Bay and for once made a rather statesmanlike pronouncement, saying that he will continue, would run as hard as he could in every primary and that “if I find I can’t win, I will say to my delegates: `You’re free people. Go wherever you want and make the best judgment you can make.’” The reason the statement sounded so good is that Eller suggested it and drafted it after listening to Gene swear about Bobby with such vehemence that the television engineers covered their ears.

Watching him, Abigail decided: well, I was against it at first but we’re in it now and these Kennedys have enough gall and arrogance to assume they have virtual ownership of the presidency to cause anyone to challenge them.

Gene’s Ron Paul-Like Vision of the Presidency.

Today’s Ron Paul people like to compare him to Robert Taft. There is very, very little similarity as I’ve mentioned before. As a lawyer who worked on the staff of Herbert Hoover at Versailles, Taft was a lawyerly constitutionalist not a isolationist or bunker state demagogue. He supported creation of the League of Nations and the UN. As a senator he introduced legislation to provide federal assistance for housing following World War II and a variant of federal aid for education. Taft believed in defeating Communism in the world theatre; as a constitutionalist he had some questions about the legalities: i.e. whether NATO was structured sufficiently so U. S. troops were not led by a European. He supported creation of the UN but had legalistic differences about the construction of the organization’s charter. (See his book “A Foreign Policy for Americans” written in 1951).

He did not support Truman’s intervention in Korea because (a) Truman had not asked for a declaration of war or a resolution and (b) he opposed the concept of our entry into the war because there was no overt or covert attack on us by North Korea. Domestically, it should be remembered that Robert Taft idolized his father who as president prosecuted more trusts than Theodore Roosevelt and carried the role of the federal government as conservator of public lands as strenuously as did Teddy.

It was clear that had he been nominated for president, Taft would have probably invited Gen. Douglas MacArthur to become his vice presidential nominee…notwithstanding that MacArthur’s father (Gen. Arthur MacArthur) and Taft’s father had had an uneasy relationship. There was nothing about MacArthur that was restrained in foreign relations or military policy—or domestic policy as is clear from his policies when he single-handedly governed Japan as its occupier. Ron Paul’s people keep prattling that he is another Taft. Not so. In contrast, Gene McCarthy is a much closer model for Ron Paul. Here is McCarthy’s view of the presidency, expressed as he readied himself to go into the Wisconsin primary.

In his statement following his tantamount victory in New Hampshire, Gene McCarthy said: “A president should not only be able to sense the needs and aspirations of the country and accept the limitations of his power but he also should understand that this country does not so much need leadership, because the potential for leadership in a free country must exist in every man and every woman. He must be prepared to be a kind of channel for those desires and those aspirations, perhaps giving some direction to the movement of the country largely by the way of setting people free.”

That is the essence of modern libertarianism regarding the presidency.

Shortly after his emergence from relative obscurity through his victory in New Hampshire, the real liberals in his coterie rebelled because Bobby Kennedy was on the horizon and they saw themselves more accommodated by him. Author Al Eisele (a classmate of mine) summarizes it this way in his book “Almost to the Presidency”: “McCarthy’s unorthodox view of the presidency as an office that should be used not for exercising power but for sharing it so people could control their own destinies may have run counter to conventional thinking…” Exactly which is why McCarthy is a superb runner-up to Ron Paul.

The Staff Rebellion Against McCarthy.

As Chicago is only a few hours away from Milwaukee and McCarthy’s Wisconsin effort was headquartered there at the old Schroeder hotel, I made the trip two times to see how they were getting along. As soon as Bobby Kennedy got in the race, a leftist coterie around McCarthy rebelled out of dissatisfaction with McCarthy’s libertarian ways. On March 25, 1968 at the start of the final week of the Wisconsin primary campaign, forty young staffers gathered in the Milwaukee hotel room of Curtis Gans and held a discussion about McCarthy’s supposed “lack of concern” about the poor in Milwaukee’s black ghetto. McCarthy’s press secretary Seymour Hersh and his assistant Mary Lou Oates resigned for “personal reasons.” The staff felt McCarthy should speak more forcefully on civil rights and that he should appeal to the black voters in Milwaukee. Gans and Richard Goodwin argued against it saying it would cost McCarthy votes among Milwaukee’s blue-collar population. Other aides insisted it would be necessary to compete with Bobby Kennedy for black votes later on.

When I spoke to McCarthy about this later in Milwaukee he shrugged off Hersh’s resignation saying he didn’t write well enough anyhow. “Press secretaries come and go,” he said. “The most important thing is a campaign is a scheduler and a driver. If my driver got angry I’d cancel everything and sit down with him. Hersh is not important.” At that time, no. But later, Hersh became one of the most celebrated reporters and authors of the day, winning the Pulitzer prize in 1969 when he was with “The New York Times” for the My Lai massacre and scoring big stories ever since. He was born on the South Side to Yiddish-speaking parents who ran a cleaning establishment, went to the University of Chicago and then to the Associated Press before joining McCarthy. He has been one of the more upfront totally leftist, anti-USA journalists of our time.

Friday, December 28, 2007

Personal Aside: Not to Intrude with U. S. Politics but Bhutto’s Death Shows Who’s On Top of Foreign Policy (McCain) and Who’s Not (Huckabee).


Bhutto’s Death.

She was a patrician, rich, educated in tony Western schools—Radcliffe, Harvard and Oxford—who capitalized in a male-dominated Islamic society as the child of the charismatic founder of the Pakistan People’s Party, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, who was hanged by a military dictatorship. She felt she was born to lead and probably even welcomed martyrdom…which she received when she was shot to death yesterday after cycles of exile, jailing, house arrest and huge notoriety. But Benazir Bhutto was a kind of international Jane Byrne (which will signify much to Chicagoans)…a fiery political leader who failed as leader of Pakistan’s government.

Tragic as the assassination was, the U.S. media raced for comments to the presidential candidates. On the Republican side there was one significant comment from someone who proved that he is an adult and has the capacity to react quickly to such events as is called for in the presidency. He was John McCain who gave sober, calm and reassuring assessments all round. One who stumbled badly was Mike Huckabee who suggested that the chaos in Pakistan was time for the U.S. to intervene with troops. Running second to McCain was Mitt Romney with an unexceptionable but not goofed-up statement. Far down the list of acceptable responses was that of Ron Paul who…surprise…thought we ought to cut off any more foreign aid to Pakistan.

Article Published This Week in “The Wanderer” : Why the Church Must Declare DePaul University No Longer Catholic.

First in a series of three articles published in The Wanderer, the oldest national Catholic weekly in the United States. They will be republished here after they are available in Wanderer hard copy. TR.

From the December 20, 2007 issue.

By Thomas F. Roeser

CHICAGO—DePaul University should be stripped of its designation as a “Catholic” university.

And not just for the reason that makes it no different from all other.

Sure, as with many other venerable Catholic schools, it waters down the teachings of the Church into a one-of-many options—an amalgam of views—without singling out any one objective truth. That goes for most of the colleges called “Catholic.” But with DePaul there are decidedly other factors, as this long study engaged by me—a former DePaul graduate student and an adjunct professor there and at a host of other schools, secular and Catholic for more than 30 years—proves.

The rap on DePaul that should deny it the name “Catholic” is this: In theology as in academic practice it is a psychedelic mockery of what a university is meant to be. It has gone berserk with at least two major derelictions.

First, on moral, not theological grounds, it provides seduction of the innocent by serving as an incubator of sexual decadence. It offers an academic minor in Gay Studies (a/k/a gay rights, lesbian, transgender and queer studies). Masquerading as academic studies they are the ultimate in hard-core and sexual explicitness.

Second, it denigrates the very idea of a university. It violates centuries of tradition of the university as a haven of academic freedom. It serves not as a colloquium of the open mind but fosters persecution of students and faculty dissenters and in more than one case has actively punished those who object to anti-Semitism.

As a third article in this series will show, it purveys in its gay course hard-core stuff that could easily be cited by such feminists as Dr. Catherine MacKinnon and Andrea Dworkin. They have criticized pornography as dehumanizing women and men which can be reasonably suspected as possibly causing violence against them. Such “studies” can in my estimation contribute to domination, humiliation and coercion of both genders, reinforcing sexual and cultural attitudes complicit in rape, harassment and objectification of men and women.

Although by current standards of academic decadence—shown by Tom Wolfe’s realistic novel I Am Charlotte Simmons—DePaul ranks with the degradation spurred by so-called Ivy League schools, allowing it to continually use, as it does, the label “Catholic” serves as an insult and degradation of the Church. Under canon law, a university run by a religious order is accountable to the order to which it is affixed, in this case the Vincentians. But the bishop of the diocese in which it is situated has been recognized traditionally as having the right to approve or withdraw the label “Catholic.”

The archbishop in this case is Francis Cardinal George OMI, of Chicago. He has already criticized the university for its celebration and indoctrination of the gay lifestyle and it has responded with a slap in his face, saying it shall be the judge of its own activities. Very well: the next step should be initiation of a process to remove the Catholic label as being unacceptable in this archdiocese—a step that will indubitably cause it harm by interfering with its false marketing as a presumed “Catholic” institution.

This is not to exonerate Catholic parents who out of their own culpable ignorance do not understand the turmoil that has happened to the Church’s universities in the past three decades. But it is to show that if they continue to support the university they will have no one to blame but themselves.

This recommendation—to scrub the Catholic label from DePaul—is made by this writer, one who is a graduate school alum and twice-hired professor there. More than that: I have been an adjunct professor in political science at a number of universities throughout the country and the world for more than 30 years in addition to my full-time work as a vice president of a major Chicago-based corporation, The Quaker Oats Company.

These teaching assignments include two stints, at different times, at DePaul where earlier I had attended graduate school. At all times with the exception of a fellowship at Harvard, I taught at the schools in addition to pursuing my regular corporate duties.

I list these universities here not to preen academically but to show the reader that perhaps I know what I am talking about as I compare DePaul with other Catholic and secular universities.

My teaching experience includes service at:

Northwestern University’s graduate school of management, the Kellogg School (two years); the John F. Kennedy Institute of Politics (fellow) at Harvard (full-time six months in Cambridge, Mass.); the Wharton School of Financ, University of Pennsylvania (once weekly for two years); Loyola University-Chicago (two stints); University of Illinois-Chicago; St. John’s College, Oxford (twice); Philips Exeter academy; a series of special week-long assignments under the sponsorship of the Woodrow Wilson International Fellows program of Princeton, N. J including Reed College, Portland, Ore.(the nation’s most gloriously self-declared anti-establishment school) and the University of South Texas, Georgetown, Texas.

This concluded with an assignment as Distinguished Fellow of the Franklin D. and Anna Eleanor Roosevelt University, Chicago (second year running) with an offer to continue in that capacity.

My relationships and fellowships at all these schools including DePaul—where I co-taught political science with the former chairman of the Democratic National Committee (a friend), David Wilhelm—have been positive.

It proves I’m not unused to teaching in schools whose faculty opinions differ from mine. Most of the schools would be categorized as liberal in politico-socio culture with the exception of Reed (radically left). Most (with the exception of Northwestern’s Kellogg School) pursue a regimen of resolutely liberal, secular, even in some cases, left-wing ideology. Particularly Harvard—although there I was admitted to teach after an extensive interview with none other than Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) who gave me his warmest support, allowing it would be good for the Kennedy Institute of Politics to have diversity for which I thank him.

But let me tell you, of all these schools with the possible exception of Reed (where as adjunct professor I was summoned before a rump student inquisition to defend so-called “exploitation of the poor” by my company, Quaker Oats which indictment I beat by citing that the company sells oatmeal for two-cents per serving, DePaul takes the all-time record for radicality and blockage of academic freedom in my three-decades-long-plus teaching experience.

One anecdote of many: Only at DePaul did a militant student organization for “reproductive choice” stage a raucous demonstration by invading my class to shout down my guest, Cong. Henry Hyde, House Judiciary chairman, all the while the faculty snickered behind cupped hands and closed doors. None of this act of discrimination against free speech happened to Hyde or any of my other guests at any other of the above-mentioned institutions—only at DePaul.

This recommendation that “Catholic” be stripped from DePaul will come in three parts. The next one, the second, deals with an injustice meted out to a banned teacher, Tom Klocek, from the faculty because of his expressed views.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Personal Asides: Thank God for the Permanent Campaign…”Time” Magazine Has Disqualified Itself…Then the Periodical Reading List.


Thank God.

Conventional wisdom holds that the presidential campaign season is much too long—that it no sooner ended in 2004 than it began in earnest for 2008. That’s correct for which I for one thank God. Short campaign seasons in this era of instant communications can be disastrous for this country. Think what could easily have happened had we spent only a few months with candidates campaigning before the 2008 conventions.

First, we’d have started off with an almost dead certainty that Rudy Giuliani would be the Republican nominee. He still might but he’s been losing ground after going months upon months—until late breaking events forced more public attention: (1) the Bernard Kerik indictments, (2) the linkage of the two worst ideas politically ever to be contained in one sentence—(a) presidential candidate and (b) girl friend. The disclosure that Judi Nathan was guarded by New York police while she was being courted by Giuliani caused me to decide that Rudy is nothing more than a national reincarnation of Eddie Vrdolyak. You know—Eddie the charming rogue. You want him to beat the latest rap but newer raps keep coming along all the time, leading you to the conclusion that he is, through his own fault, highly accident prone. So is Giuliani. I admire Giuliani. If, God forbid, we have another terrorist attack on these shores there will undoubtedly be a drive to Giuliani—gaining him the nomination and the election. In that eventuality he might be unbeatable. But we can and should be able to do much better initially than to nominate the man who Jim Thompson says is Big Jim’s kind of Republican. I confess: that did it for me.

Second, the long-long campaign season gave rise to Mike Huckabee and then the continuing strafing of Mike Huckabee. I still say that if someone can convince him to ditch the “Fair Tax” he could be an excellent vice presidential candidate. Why? For pragmatic reasons mostly. Though he is solidly pro-life, he brings to the table a sizable chunk of blue-collar, evangelical and beneficial anti-Wall Street aura that is needed to win the election. And with a number of years with the experience of the vice presidency under his belt, he might very well be a superb presidential candidate and president. The flyspecking criticism raised about him don’t bother me for a moment. A governorship is where a trade of presidentiality should be learned. He was a remarkable governor albeit with some mistakes. And, after all, he’s only 52, far younger than most of the other candidates.

Third, the overlong campaign has given the benefit of a lot of seasoning to Mitt Romney, my choice, testing him with all kinds of problems which might make him a better presidential nominee. Fourth, it may very well be that the super-enlarged season allowed John McCain who is a noble candidate…and one who wisely declared our goal in Iraq should be victory…to re-attain his stature. Because I am a thorough-going Republican, I could easily support McCain although he is not my first choice.

Fourth, the very extended campaign showed us the folly of a media hyped candidate—Fred Thompson—who really doesn’t have much to offer…something we might not have discovered sufficiently if the campaign hadn’t drawn on interminably. Long-long campaigns should be de rigeur in these times when the Internet and cable television play a short-range kaleidoscope effect on our consciousness. Besides, since politics have never bored me, I enjoy it rather than speculating about which team will do best chasing a pellet around a field.

“Time” Magazine.

The choice of Vladimir Putin by “Time” magazine as its man of the year is only slightly less outrageous than its bypassing of Ronald Reagan in 1999 to pick as its man of the decade Mikhail Gorbachev. It showed that the magazine was run by liberal elitists unsympathetic with the facets of history. How anyone could imagine that Gorbachev rather than Reagan contributed more to international affairs is beyond me. Yet all you have to do to understand the liberal mindset is to read the Putin article. No, I’m wrong. There is one more thing you have to do in order to understand the liberal mind-set. You have to read Arthur Schlesinger, Jr.’s postmortem book “Journal” which contains his (supposedly) innermost thoughts from the 1950s through the early beginning of this century. I recommend you get it and read it. You will never again be intimidated by those who Stand Tall in Georgetown.

There is no doubt that if “Time” was an American publication it would have chosen Gen. David Petraeus for the cover honor. That it did not shows that, increasingly, the liberal cause has moved from patriotism to a rooting against America.

Because I realized this when the magazine chose Gorbachev, I have resolved never to read it. Let me tell you what newspapers and journals I do read—and invite you to tell me what you read.

Daily and Weekly Reads.

I start off each morning with the “Sun-Times” ghastly though its National Enquirer burlesque is. I chortle over Jack Higgins, admire Fran Spielman, look for the latest by Abdon Pallasch, devour Dan Miller’s excellently edited business pages. I think Tim Novak richly deserves the Pulitzer.

Then the “Tribune” which on the whole has gotten significantly better in the past two years. I am always touched by Kass…think he is long overdue for a Pulitzer… and am impressed that the editorials have begun to have some bite to them. Then the “Wall Street Journal” which to my mind is the best national newspaper published. Followed by “The New York Times” which is, no matter how I chafe at it, is extraordinarily well edited. I look for David Brooks although he has become ponderous lately; I gush over Maureen Dowd who is about as good as Ann Coulter in her way.

Each week I devour “The Weekly Standard” with which I appear to agree on almost everything. “National Review” has gotten a great deal better since when old Bill ran it winding on and on about his yacht races and how he thrills to rattle off Bach on his harpsichord (advertisements for himself); I like the cut of its jib. I cannot miss “The Economist” especially its book reviews. “Human Events” is a must, especially John Gizzi’s politics. I read “The New Republic” because I think its style of writing is superb. “The New Yorker” which is as snooty as ever but fascinating. “Vanity Fair” for a dash of spice. “First Things” published by Richard John Neuhaus for one thing—Neuhaus’ commentaries in the back of the book. When rarely I find I cannot sleep I delve into an article by Cardinal Dulles…especially when he writes about sex…and go off to slumberland in a minute. It is exceedingly difficult to write boringly about sex but Dulles and the late John Paul the Great found the knack.

In “The Weekly Standard” I like Bill Kristol best of all; Fred Barnes comes second but I think he is sometimes echoing a favorite White House line. For a witty and wise, albeit sardonic, bit of humor I like Joe Epstein.

All in all, for international affairs I read “Commentary.” I am gratified that its new editor will be John Podhoretz. I would like to meet his father Norman since I’ve been reading him for years and generally subscribe to his views—but I find Norman is a bit too-too chauvinistically pro-Israel for me. Not that I am anti but I do not wish to decide my foreign policy on the grounds of what is satisfactory to Israel. I fear Norman does but then he is very scholarly, a crisp writer and very good. John, his son, is more balanced. Also a witty film reviewer.

I read “The Wanderer” of course among Catholic newspapers, not just because they allow me to write for it but because I am grateful that there is a publication with its guts around that is not overly timorous about the bishops. Also “Catholic Answers” and “This Rock.” “Catholic World Report” published by Ignatius is outstanding. I read John Allen online in “The National Catholic Reporter” and find he has a truly mature knowledge of the Vatican and the papacy—not his newspaper necessarily. The publications I conscientiously veer away from are “Time,” “Newsweek” and “U. S. News.” There—I’m sure I have forgotten some…but do tell me what you read.

Flashback: McCarthy-Eller Tease Money by Disparaging New Hampshire; Blair Clark with Close Ties to Cronkite Chairs McCarthy Effort. Nobody Detects that Due to FDR-Truman Era Centrist Delegate Selection Policies, Hope to Unseat Regulars is Doomed.

[More than 50 years of politics written for my kids and grandchildren].

The McCarthy-Eller Tease for Dough. .

On December 2, 1967 at a meeting of a rump, anti-Vietnam group, the national Conference of Concerned Democrats at the Conrad Hilton in Chicago, McCarthy purposely acted the anti-hero—something, perversely, he liked to do. After Allard Lowenstein and Rep. Don Edwards, a liberal Californian who had become the first member of Congress to publicly endorse McCarthy, revved up the crowd to a fever pitch, the senator was introduced and let all the air out of the balloon by speaking abstractly like a university professor. Maddening. The group wanted McCarthy to announce he would enter the New Hampshire primary which would be held March 12, 1968. But following Jerry Eller’s plan to go slow, McCarthy told the group it was time not “for storming the walls but for beginning a long march”—and everybody wondered what those words meant. He seemed to delight in letting them guess, something he had done all his life and which drove Abigail to distraction. But then she was a normal person.

Eller hugely enjoyed Gene in this, which led me to believe Eller was a bit dotty. His answer was he was wary of excitable pronouncements and wanted to dampen expectations, stimulating contributions to “convince” them. So McCarthy with Eller’s help began to tease the Democrats. He wavered and said at first he wouldn’t enter New Hampshire because he didn’t think it important. Enthusiasts responded: oh yes it is, Gene! And the money started to flow. I don’t know, maybe Eller was right after all.

When the Massachusetts Democratic executive committee voted 44-4 to support Johnson’s Vietnam policy, Eller was elated. Why? Because the Kennedys had failed to show strength in their own state and, he said, it would be more advantageous for McCarthy to enter that state’s primary than New Hampshire to prove his was not a stalking horse for Bobby Kennedy. McCarthy entering Massachusetts, the Kennedys’ turf? Incredible. It was But that too was a ruse. As the papers reported that obviously nutty idea and doubted McCarthy would enter New Hampshire, more money flowed tied to appeals to enter New Hampshire. No-no, Eller said to the pundits in his tease: New Hampshire was too hawkish, too Republican and had too many defense industries linked to the war to be a good test. Much more money came in to persuade Gene to enter its primary on March 12, 1968.

While McCarthy was in Chicago, two McCarthy stalwarts came to him and urged him to run in New Hampshire. New Hampshire was the state that could capture national attention they said. They were David Hoeh, a Dartmouth college faculty member and Garry Studds, a teacher at the exclusive St. Paul’s Boys’ School near Concord. (Studds later became a congressman from Massachusetts, was tied to a homosexual affair with a male page in the House, turned his back in defiance on the House after he explained things, refusing to apologize and was steadily reelected despite the scandal until he retired many years later).

Studds and Hoeh showed McCarthy a budget attesting that McCarthy could run in New Hampshire for only $55,000 total: which shows how small campaign expenditures were in 1967 versus the mega millions they have become now. But even so the figure was ridiculously low: $175,000 was actually spent, even so, a fraction of today’s New Hampshire budgets. They said that McCarthy didn’t have to win the primary but anything he got in excess of from 3,000 to 5,000 votes could be trumpeted as a psychological victory because the media were so against Johnson and the Vietnam War. In this they were right. Media can concoct anything they favor as a victory.

Super Liberal Elitist: Blair Clark.

Studds and Hoeh sent their memorandum to Blair Clark, a former CBS News executive who had been a close friend of Jack Kennedy because they had heard Clark was to become national McCarthy for president campaign director. The 50-year-old media executive had sent a modest check to McCarthy; he had once published a newspaper in New Hampshire and was familiar with the state. He also had a long litany of liberal social contacts with the Kennedys that impressed McCarthy.

If ever there was a stereotype of left-wing, over-cultured elitist snob, it was multi-millionaire by inheritance Ledyard Blair Clark, born in East Hampton, N. Y., attended St. Mark’s prep with the future poet Robert Lowell and later Harvard where he served as president of the “Crimson.” He was born to old money and never was dependent on a job for his living. He reported as a multi-millionaire dilettante for a time for the “St. Louis Post-Dispatch,” then served in the army 1941=46. As a dilettante, he joined CBS News in Paris (where else?), anchored its prime time radio program “The World Tonight,” and was made CBS News’s general manager and vice president where he was astounded to learn that he was expected to work very hard.

He did for a time. He was responsible for the hiring of a good many big name correspondents at CBS and worked closely with Ed Murrow and Walter Cronkite. Later when the work grew too mundane and dreary, he took his inheritance and edited a small paper in New Hampshire for a time, then became associate publisher of the then very liberal “New York Post.” Following which he became editor of “The Nation,” the country’s oldest, most venerable left-wing magazine. Clark agreed with the Studds-Hoeh memo that McCarthy should enter New Hampshire and came to see McCarthy and Eller. One thing about Blair Clark: he had good common sense politically and was not eccentric as were McCarthy actually was and Eller pretended to be (but Eller was also a genius which McCarthy was not).

After drinking until the wee hours of the morning with Clark, McCarthy and Eller allowed themselves to be “persuaded” to enter the New Hampshire primary. The campaign’s headquarters opened on January 2, 1968 in a drab former electrical supply store in Concord, with a total bankroll of $250, contributed by an uncle of David Hoeh’s wife. Then while Clark phoned for more campaign contributions, Eller called me. Called me a conservative Republican for help. Why?

Eller called me in Chicago from the headquarters in Concord with an interesting proposition.

“Here’s a chance to see your hideous Repuiblican campaign bucks do double duty,” he said. He argued rightly that for Republicans facing the possibility of winning the presidency in 1968, the battle over the Vietnam war and the McCarthy challenge would be great fun. If I could get some Republican money for McCarthy to allow him to destroy Johnson, the money would be well spent for Republicans would face a shattered Democratic party no matter who won. If Johnson turned back McCarthy he would still be weakened. If McCarthy defeated Johnson the Democratic party would be seriously damaged. Why not pony up some money to participate in the fun—money McCarthy could use. This was doubtless the most cynical overture for money I ever received but knowing Eller as a political realist, it made extraordinarily good sense.

In fact the money I ponied up helped McCarthy split the Democratic party in New Hampshire from which it never recovered for the entirety of 1968 doubtless helped to cause the razor-thin election of Richard Nixon. (Looking back on how bad and mad Nixon was, I wonder if I was right then: but I did worry about hurting Hubert whom I would have preferred on the matter of character only to be president over LBJ, McCarthy and Nixon…and still do. You must remember: this was five years before “Roe v. Wade” and no Democratic or Republican had endorsed abortion, not even Nelson Rockefeller, giving me more choices in voting. In those innocent pre-“Roe v. Wade” years the Democrats were as good as, and in some things better, than the Republicans on social issues. But oh well, that’s history).

The flaccidly weak nature of federal campaign disclosure at the time made getting funds without much accountability very easy. Republicans could easily give money in circuitous fashion without their names being used. Then a dummy account was set up by Eller and I was more successful than I had ever imagined in getting Republican money funneled to it. For a time I was responsible for the biggest pile of contributed funds the McCarthy people had albeit again not remotely big by current mega-million standards. So I was feted by both Eller and Clark (this was Clark’s 50th birthday) one historic (for me) night in Concord.

“Do you know that you top the list of contributors to Gene this week with your Republican reactionaries?” said Eller. I reaffirmed that the money was given in the hope that the Democratic party would be split—an event that actually happened.

I looked wry and Eller added: “Aw, what he really wants is for LBJ to quit and Humphrey to get the nod and win, right Tom?”

No, I lied. I want Nixon.

“So be it,” Clark said. “We can use it to do God’s work now.” He was very hopeful that Gene would make a signal difference even if he didn’t win New Hampshire. After all, the LBJ forces had planned to sponsor a write-in for Johnson and the write-in could conceivably top Gene’s vote. But, as Eller wisely considered, the media would trumpet Gene’s tally as a moral victory. At that dinner Eller broached the idea that in all likelihood if the challenge were at all successful—and they didn’t have to defeat Johnson but do well-=Johnson would butt out of the race leaving the job to Hubert. It made me feel worse than ever thinking that the money I brought would screw Humphrey (as it ultimately did).

“Don’t tell him that!” said Clark. “He’ll take back the damn Republican money!”

Eller, who had a way of seeing the future clearly said—and at the time I was struck with the fact that it might happen—“the worst that can happen to us…all of us—Blair, Roeser and me—is that we win the primary and it gets Bobby to join the fray and beat all of us…McCarthy, Humphrey and Nixon!”

We laughed and drank up. How ridiculous.

“Not crazy,” Clark said darkly as he put down his glass.

Johnson was playing it so coy that he had not registered his candidacy in New Hampshire and would run a write-in. Even so the chances would be that as a write-in, Johnson would beat McCarthy on the ballot. I was incredulous: did they think that a Johnson write-in beating a McCarthy on the ballot would be heralded as a great victory? Clark who knew the liberal media said quietly: of course. We parted ruminating on one bleak thing: that Bobby Kennedy would decide to jump in late and possibly get the nomination. I went to bed, thought about it again, said naw it can’t happen. And went to sleep.

They Thought of Everything—But Delegate Selection.

But smart as they were, it is significant that Eller and Clark had no thorough understanding of the fact—something they learned to their sorrow much later—that no matter how well Gene would do, the delegate selection of the Democratic party was largely controlled by static forces: fairly conservative people, labor leaders, big city mayors, governors and this is what gave the Democrats solidity since the time of FDR…and which had won for it many elections. The FDR-Truman system insulated the party from the cross-currents and emotionalism of movements and hence the Democrats were entirely acceptable as vehicles of governance to independents and to business.

In essence, the challenge by McCarthy was a lost cause anyhow because thanks to FDR and Truman, in state after state, delegates were chosen by a variety of ways—some by favoritism, some by haphazard methods but most controlled by regular Democrats.

Blair Clark as a true liberal media executive, was the media, believed that if McCarthy made a good showing the FDR-Truman old guard Democratic party’s house of cards would fall. He had convinced Eller of this fact as well. Their only fear was, as I have said, that Robert Kennedy could stampede into a few primaries and ultimately the national convention. Hence two very sophisticated strategists believed that if McCarthy scored significant victories in the popular votes in various states, the Democratic convention in Chicago would be up for grabs. That was not even nearly the case.

Proceeding at a leisurely pace, after chatting with Blair Clark about the latest Robert Lowell poem, McCarthy decided on January 2, 1968 when he got around to it, officially that he would enter New Hampshire with his name on the ballot for the election, March 12. He didn’t get around to coming to New Hampshire until January 25, the same day a Gallup poll showed that if the election were held that day he would draw only 12%, which Clark thought was very good (I didn’t). No, said Clark to me, you don’t understand. This is going to be a populist revolution for peace and the media will play a key role in it. He added: “I know. I’m talking to Cronkite all the time!” Oh.

McCarthy asked to testify before the Democratic National Committee’s planning session in Chicago on Jan. 7 as to why he was running but DNC chairman John Bailey said the session would not deal with Vietnam and that Lyndon Johnson was as good as nominated “and that’s that.”

Clark set up a national McCarthy for president headquarters two blocks from the White House and hired a small staff including two later big names in liberal politics: Curtis Gans, 30, who was put in charge of searching for delegates and Seymour Hersh, 30, to handle media (he had broken the story of the My Lai massacre for the AP). As a good soldier, Abigail McCarthy organized a woman’s volunteer mail-answering battalion. And the money started coming in. There was no serious limitation: Martin Peretz, a young Harvard professor who had married the heiress to the Singer Sewing Machine fortune; Arnold Hiatt a Boston shoe manufacturer and Howard Stein, supposedly the “boy wonder of Wall Street,” head of the Dreyfus mutual fund (who had hired Art Michelson on his own tab and allowed him to be McCarthy’s press secretary). McCarthy was receiving $1,000 a day in campaign contributions rising steadily until it crested at $14,000 a day.

The Tet Offensive Decides It.

McCarthy began to make his way through New Hampshire, stumping as he went. He spoke at St. Anselm’s college in Goffstown, a Benedictine place where he became almost poetic, saying that his victory could “lead to an America again which is singing, an America which is full of confidence, which is full of trust and which is full of hope. Not just an example to the world but a genuine help to the world.” In talking to the media he said something prescient: “You fight from a low crouch. You wait for events. You let it come to you.”

The man who talked to Walter Cronkite regularly, Blair Clark was right in a sense. Cronkite seemed to tip the balance for McCarthy when he announced as America’s most trusted oracle that we should pull out of Vietnam. All because of a climatic event Cronkite and others misjudged. Either naturally or willfully.

The event came to be known as the “Tet Offensive”—so called because the battle was timed to begin in the early morning of Jan. 31 on the lunar new year holiday. It continued through Sept. 23. It is remarkable in that history now records that it ended as a decisive U. S. tactical victory but that the assault was labeled as a decided North Vietnamese one, with Cronkite declaring it a disaster. The initial attack surprised our forces but was beaten back with massive casualties inflicted on the National Liberation Front. Thus Tet was the only battle in U. S. history which was won on the ground but lost by the news media which convinced the American public Vietnam was unworthy of further sacrifice.

The psychological blow rained on the voters of New Hampshire as the Vietcong briefly invaded the U. S. embassy compound in Saigon and battles ensued in the capitals of all South Vietnam’s 44 provinces. It was grist for the McCarthy campaign mill. In February as he campaigned he said “hollow claims of programs and victories in Vietnam have no proven accurate. For the fact is that the enemy is bolder than ever, while we must steadily enlarge our own commitment…Only a few months ago we were told that 65% of the population was secure. Now we know that even the American embassy is not secure.”

In the last week of February, “Time” put out a poll of New Hampshire Democrats showing McCarthy far behind with only 11% of the vote. Clark and Eller told me it was far wrong. They were correct. When the balloting was held on March 12, the poll and “Time” were repudiated. The final figures were 27,243 write-ins for Johnson or 49% and 23,380 for McCarthy or 42%. With Republican write-in votes—5,511 for McCarthy and 1,778 for Johnson—taken into account the gap narrowed to less than one percentage point. The media trumpeted this and the man America trusted most, Cronkite hit home the idea that McCarthy’s “student power” which has been cited as a powerful voting factor ever since: more than 10,000 had come to New Hampshire. In fact the mis-reading on Tet by Cronkite and others did.

The McCarthy “Let Down.”

The New Hampshire primary was the first—and most decisive—since it rocked the Johnson presidency to the core. There were 13 other primaries to go but only seven proved of significance: New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Indiana, Nebraska, Oregon, South Dakota and California. But just as enigmatic he was as a man, Gene McCarthy was the same after New Hampshire. The McCarthy senatorial office was moving at a crawl. Allard Lowenstein discovered it had received more than 100,000 letters of support which had gone unanswered. After the victory in New Hampshire, McCarthy was asked to go on “Meet the Press” but he turned it down because he was miffed—he was not the first selection but Bobby was and Bobby had turned it down. Then Blair Clark, when he heard of it, said, “I think we may have a fraud on our hands,” meaning the candidate. Clark was a regular Democrat to this extent: you don’t turn down “Meet the Press” no matter if you’re the fifth guy they’ve asked. But diffidence and an inner bitterness, a cold anger at disapproval, was McCarthy’s way. God help us if he had ever become president. You think Nixon was nuts—whew.

McCarthy’s diffidence worked against him as students and anti-war activists wondered if he had the stamina to go all the way against Johnson. And what was that cavalier way in which he let the air out of balloons? No one has explained it yet to me.

At one fund-raising party I attended, he made a brief circle of handshakes and then left, sipping drinks in the hotel bar and making epigrams. Small wonder then that when his plane from New Hampshire via Boston landed at Washington National airport, Jerry Eller bounded up the steps to the cabin and said, “Bobby wants to see you. He’s going to tell you he’s going!” He gave McCarthy a carbon-copy from a news ticker that quoted Kennedy as “reassessing my position as to whether I’ll run against President Johnson.”

McCarthy’s jaw muscles tightened. Resentment and coldly bitter anger was one emotion he could handle. If he couldn’t get the nomination, he would see it wouldn’t be worth a plugged nickel.

Johnson’s Depression.

Earlier, even before Tet and New Hampshire, although few knew it, Lyndon Johnson had talked with John Connally about not running again; as a matter of fact he even mentioned resigning and turning it over to Humphrey. Why? He was a moody, mercurial and frustrated man who brought up the resignation possibility to encourage Connally to say “no-no, you’re indispensable!” This Connally did. Johnson brought it up to Hubert whose heart skipped a beat but he played down his joy. Then Johnson told Valenti: “I won’t be around in 1968…They would say I was playing politics if I resigned and gave the job to Humphrey. My own party has turned against me and the Republicans are chiming in. We probably need a fresh face. Humphrey would start with a clean slate; he would be fresh. As it is now, I have lost Congress.” Then at his ranch in October, 1967 he dictated a draft resignation letter and sent it to George Christian his press secretary with instructions to show it to Connally. Connally called Johnson and said “burn the damned thing.” Johnson did.

The next primary would be in Wisconsin, April 2. Seven thousand volunteers fanned out across the state to help McCarthy. The media was echoing Cronkite. Hubert had heard rumors of Johnson’s depression. He was exultant at first, then turned thoughtful as he wondered how he could, as the nominee, handle Vietnam so as to get elected. He decided he’d flip-flop again and work to cease the bombing in the hope that this would encourage the North Vietnamese to go to the bargaining table. He had utterly no worry that McCarthy would be his opponent—just Bobby. Knowing that the party leaders controlled delegate selection, Humphrey thought they would like a Hubert-Bobby ticket in 1968. As for McCarthy, he recognized that Gene carried within his psyche the seeds of his own destruction.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Multiple Personal Asides: Zell…Tackett…Tim Novak…Fitzgerald…Kristol…Big Bad Jim…Sinclair Lewis…Judy Baar Topinka.



There’s some hope for the “Tribune” in that Sam Zell has contributed to the presidential campaigns of John McCain and Rudy Giuliani at least. But answer me this: what does his choice of attire mean? No tie, an open-necked shirt, ragged jeans. Pick one of these options or write one yourself in Comments:

1. Even though I am a multi-billionaire I dress like a slob in order to allay suspicion that I am an elitist.

2. In this way I thumb my nose at the world and ridicule its conventions.

3. I am so deep intellectually I give no thought whatever to what I wear as incidental things matter very little to me.

4. Actually my choice of slob clothes is not an accident. I dress this way to show that unlike other CEOs I am eminently approachable.

5. My high-powered public relations counsel advises me to show some distinction between other financiers and mega-bucks investors. It’s rather like Warren Buffett who lives in Omaha, eats with good old Charlie Munger at Al’s Italian Beef but who flies in a chartered jet and thinks he should pay more taxes and supports Obama—suitable for canonization by “The New York Times” magazine any Sunday now.

6. It is the one way a little guy like me with a forgettable persona can get attention. Put me in a suit and I fade into the woodwork.

Actually it’s more pathetic to see the “Tribune” executives aping Zell—all showing up jacket-less, without ties. In this they are not different at all from the executives of my bygone era, where everybody wore button-down shirts, “sincere” ties and had Thom McAn shoes. Before Zell came on the scene they were all literally “suits.” Now they’re Zell clones. God help us.


The nominees for the most pretentious Washington bureau chief now writing who gives off an aura of knowing something about his craft but who is woefully ignorant on both history and politics have been considered…and the winner is Michael Tackett, hands down. The Washington bureau editor of the “Tribune” who has mastered the knack of deconstructionism i.e. writing only things that square with his point of view and ignoring all others.

Tackett captured the award easily and does so almost every Sunday with his column which he turns out so effortlessly…containing barren thoughts which take no effort. Yesterday Tackett wrote gloriously of one Mickey Edwards, a former Republican congressman from Oklahoma…a conservative who is high on Tackett’s list—a founding board member of Heritage, national chairman of the American Conservative Union, chairman of the annual Conservative political Action Committee conferences et al-- who spouted stuff liberal Tackett would like to get across. Like the fact that Edwards has written a book “Reclaiming Conservatism.” Says Tackett joyously: “In it he unsparingly criticizes his party and his president for, as he sees it, turning conservatism inside out.” Then to Tackett’s unutterable satisfaction, Edwards “thinks of conservatism as Barry Goldwater did: as a governing philosophy emphasizing limited government and individual liberty.” Tackett: “The 1964 convention at the Cow Palace in San Francisco where Reagan’s speech launched him to national political prominence had a party platform that Edwards says is antithetical to the one the party produced in 2004.”

Enough. Reagan, of course, did not make that speech at the Cow Palace but in a film weeks prior. And Tackett could tell us Edwards real name—Marvin Henry Yanowsky—which he changed to Mickey Edwards. Not that I dislike the name Yanowsky but he must have to have discarded it for Edwards. Always known as a wild card in the House, he left office after having been defeated for having 386 overdrafts on the House bank and a number of other personal traits that caused him to stand out from the crowd. Edwards finished third in the primary to Ernest Istook. After leaving the House involuntarily (not covered in his self-written autobiography in Wikipedia) he took up with former White House Counsel Lloyd Cutler with whom he served as co-chairman of “Citizens for Independent Courts” which sought to rid us of the tiresome habit of presidents appointing to the federal bench people who share their philosophy (a goo-goo group that raises the standards purportedly so no carry-through of a president’s views can be derived, which in the case of abortion would be a great boon to the Left). Edwards was also chairman of another Bill Clinton goo-goo, Abner Mikva in a drive to limit the use of constitutional amendments as a substitute for the normal legislative process. Sounds good until you remember that the great Mikva saw as an exception to the rule ERA for which he crusaded. Ergo: the wrong constitutional amendment would be one which guarantees the primacy of human life after “Roe v. Wade.”

Yanowsky, er, Edwards also served as co-chairman of goo-goo groups sponsored by Brookings (not known for a conservative bias) and the New York Council on Foreign Relations (ditto) as well as Brooking “Working Group on Campaign Finance Reform.” You don’t have to imagine what campaign finance “reform” it favors: I can tell you. One which about the same as McCain-Feingold except that it would block any independent expenditures of any kind which would have been death for the Swift boats. He has been a regular commentator on NPR’s “All Things Considered.” He is married to…aha…one Elizabeth A. Sherman Ph.D “a well-known Democratic political operative from Massachusetts” his Wikipedia says. None of which Tackett in his adulation of a true conservative informs us of. Call it judicious reportage.

Now to Barry Goldwater who is the idol of true conservatism, the one that Edwards and presumably Tackett himself compares favorably to the Ronald Reagan brand. Right off take his vote against civil rights in 1963—a mild bill. I take it Tackett cheers that one. No? What about Goldwater’s position taken in the August, 1963 issue of “The Saturday Evening Post” by Stewart Alsop. Asked if he opposed the progressive income tax, Goldwater said yes and then was asked this follow-up: “Do you really think it’s fair that a man with five million a year should pay the same rate as a man with five-thousand?” Goldwater: “Yes, yes. I do.” What Goldwater is anticipating is the flat tax explaining that “the poor man would benefit from the rich man’s investments.” It’s a terrible way to describe the flat tax but I take it this finds favor with Edwards and Tackett. However Tackett never reports this.

Goldwater favored selling the TVA. Many others do now although Reagan could not find sufficient support for it. Evidently Edwards and Tackett do. (I think so but that’s not the point; they just haven’t reported all the things Goldwater advocated). Then Goldwater advocated that the NATO supreme commander in Europe “be given authority over the tactical nuclear weapons appropriate to NATO’s defenses.” Which would leave the decision whether or not to go nuclear to the NATO commander rather than the president. I am not sure Edwards or Tackett would support this.

On Jan. 5, 1964 Goldwater told “Meet the Press” that he favored using a threat to break off relations with the Soviet Union as a “bargaining effort…to try to get some things accomplished.” When questioned further he said, “We have to keep in mind, though, this would take an action of the Senate of the United States.” The Senate has no role whatsoever under the Constitution in granting or withdrawing diplomatic recognition. This eluded Goldwater but perhaps Edwards and Tackett think this is the prerogative of the Senate. Or maybe it should be. That would take a constitutional amendment and Edwards, we are told, is against “unnecessary” constitutional amendments.

On the same show when Goldwater was asked if he would renounce the partial test-ban treaty then in effect, Goldwater said: “I would have to cross th at bridge when I got to it. I still think it is of no advantage to the United States and just the other day, Dr. Hans Morganthau, one of the greatest physicists in the world, backed my position up on that by stating what I said on the floor that the treaty had more accrual of good to the Soviets than it did to the United States.” Wrong totally. Dr. Hans Morganthau of the University of Chicago could be expected to believe Goldwater had had a stroke. As he had every right to expect Goldwater to know, Morganthau was an eminent expert on international affairs not a physicist and was no foe of the test ban treaty; in fact Goldwater had actually debated Morganthau on a televised panel in Chicago just three months earlier.

On Jan. 7, 1964 after the “Meet the Press” Goldwater flew to Concord, New Hampshire and, according to Robert Novak, “while not proposing that the U. S. invade Cuba, he called for another exiles’ invasion of Cuba with U. S. air support.” That same day he, according to Novak, “proposed that the [Social Security] system be made voluntary.”

My point here is not to question Goldwater whose views have become, in effect, standard for extremists wanting to overthrow tyranny wherever it exists (i.e. some of whom are neo-conservatives) or those who want to privatize Social Security (i.e. some of whom are libertarians). It is to question whether Tackett or Edwards for that matter really know what the hell Goldwater actually advocated. Edwards has a reputation of being a high-flyer with the truth; Tackett evidently appropriates his stuff without looking at it for a second. Which is why Michael Tackett is about the lousiest Washington bureau head any paper could have.

Where Edwards and Tackett fall in love with Goldwater comes from the Arizonan’s late-in-life criticism of the religious right intruding itself into politics. But this view did not come in his presidential campaign; nor did it come right after “Roe v. Wade.” When I picked up Goldwater at O’Hare in the latter part of the `70s here for a United Republican Fund dinner, he was in support of pro-life and made no distinction. You must remember that Goldwater was not a great thinker in the way that Bob Taft or Eugene Milliken were. He was light as a cork with some generally decent instincts. He was fun to be with. But the nation was spared a great ignominy when he self-destructed. And while this flies in the faith of certain mythology, it is nonetheless true.

The pro-abortion, pro-gay rights change in Goldwater that Hillary Clinton cheers came later. When he grew older, more crotchety and tending to share with a good friend Daniel Patrick Moynihan his close acquaintanceship with (a) Jim Beam and (b) Jack Daniels, Goldwater decided on several occasions not to run for the Senate again. His wife, Peggy Johnson died. While she was indeed an active contributor to Planned Parenthood, Goldwater kept that view to himself and echoed the standard pro-life line. But after she died and he married a much younger woman who wanted to preserve a certain standing in Georgetown—and when he decided to retire—Goldwater came out of the closet so to speak and assailed many traditional concepts of Judeo-Christian morality: anti-abortionism was one; anti-gay rights another…earning for himself and his new wife an eminence in Georgetown that the by then semi-dotty old geezer never really understood. This emergence of a very senior senator not running for reelection has given birth to the concept of the strict libertarian Goldwater lionized by Mickey Edwards and propagated by his faithful servitor the indispensable if ill-educated and hopelessly liberally ideological with hostility to current conservatism, Michael Tackett, Washington bureau chief of the “Chicago Tribune”—once again, God help us. .

In fairness, Edwards is probably duping the naïf Tackett. Writing just enough in his book about the elderly Goldwater to mislead anyone who wasn’t around during his 1964 presidential campaign. Nothing that Goldwater said in domestic policy or international policy could possibly be supported by Mickey Edwards who to his credit is a smart guy—a lawyer and ex-journalist. All Edwards is happens to be a de-constructionist…one who like Garry Wills takes bits and pieces of statements and discards those statements not serviceable to him. That is what Edwards would do in the House.

In fairness, Tackett is not that kind. He’s a dupe. Just an ill-educated guy with a liberal streak who thinks, dumbly, it would make a great column to zing current conservatives by hearkening back to a Goldwater he probably never knew or cared about. Again…there were some things Goldwater talked about in the early days that were prescient, although not researched or thought out well enough to be viable such as the flat tax, such as a plan to partially privatize Social Security, such as to get rid of the TVA. Goldwater had not the faintest idea of how to accomplish this; he had no more a concept of what he was really advocating than he was when he made Hans Morganthau a distinguished physicist. But Tackett doesn’t know this stuff. He’s a routine Washington beltway liberal boob-- the Tackett who hews to the liberal line every Sunday in the “Tribune.” That’s my whole point. Again, your comments welcomed.

Tim Novak.

It’s intriguing how the “Sun-Times” with all its imperfections…run by Michael Cooke, a slavish imitator of the “National Enquirer” who has debased his once-legendary product…still in its weakened condition manages to run circles around the “Tribune” on investigative news. Here’s a bed-sheet-sized newspaper which spends far more than the S-T, double teams them in reportorial staffs, and it still gets blanked on major city news. The “Sun-Times” Tim Novak does certainly deserve a Pulitzer for a series of tremendously well researched stories that have changed the dynamics of this town starting with Hired Trucks. Add to him Jack Higgins the best cartoonist in the Western world, Fran Spielman the best city hall reporter, Dan Miller the most knowledgeable business editor in town with a sophistication that rivals any editor on “The Wall Street Journal,” Abdon Pallasch who is fast becoming one of the best political reporters in this town and you have the ingredients for a first-rate publication which is direly offset by Mr. Cooke and his debased taste. The “Tribune” has excellent taste, has improved vastly in its editorial writing, has excellent columnists John Kass and Dennis Byrne (Op Ed) but is humiliated almost every day by its S-T competition.

Example: “Tribune” writes a purely journeyman’s tale of deputy U.S. Marshall John Ambrose suspected of leaking secrets to the mob. But the “Sun-Times” comes along with an article by Steve Warmbir defending how gently Marshall was questioned by U. S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald because Fitzgerald didn’t want to see Ambrose kill himself. A tremendous coup. Where was the “Tribune”? Sleepy. Your comment?


My usual take is that Bill Kristol, editor of “The Weekly Standard,” is one of the most astute guys covering politics—topped only by Michael Barone who is my all-time favorite. But here was Kristol making a prediction on yesterday’s “Fox News Sunday” that the Republican party at its convention will nominate Dick Cheney for president and will win. I don’t know if I tuned in late or if Kristol was drunk. Or am I missing something? Do any of you think that this is a remote possibility?

Big Bad Jim.

We have adjudged, have we not, that Big Jim Thompson has no shame. That although intellectually gifted he has allowed himself to become one of the more venal lobbyists, shilling for Blagojevich, then Blagojevich’s wife in return for the state paying Winston & Strawn a fortune to serve as…gasp…an ethics coach for the administration. Now after Blago talks to Sam Zell and both mention using the state to cover Zell’s vast indebtedness at the “Tribune” by using the state of Illinois to buy Wrigley Field…here comes Lord Jim, chairman of the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority…saying that the deal is possible. This from the noted watchdog of the treasury at Hollister who never barked when the two crooks were stealing everything but the door knobs…who was so compassionate in defense of his close friend felon George Ryan that he (Thompson) scooped up everybody’s bonuses at his law firm to pay for a $20 million defense of Ryan and then out of the warmness of his heart rode all the way to jail with Ryan in his limousine. Is there no limit to this venality?

Sinclair Lewis.

The words of the late Pulitzer prize-winning and Nobel-prize winning American novelist Sinclair Lewis were used repeatedly by Presidential candidate Ron Paul for the last week. I interviewed Lewis several times in my Minnesota stint, once when he returned to Sauk Centre, the cite of his novel “Main Street” and knew his older brother well, Dr. Claude Lewis of St. Cloud. Paul tossed a zinger at Mike Huckabee by quoting Lewis as saying that when fascism comes to the United States it will come wrapped in a flag and carrying a cross. Which would sound ducky if Lewis were anything else than what he was—a variant between a militant skeptic-agnostic and atheist, a view he shared with me at least three times. It’s rather different when an atheist worries about fascism coming draped in a flag and carrying a cross, isn’t it?

Judy Baar Topinka.

This faded wallflower, Tugboat Annie of a bygone era of mushy moderate Republicanism…winking and nodding to Big Jim, Little Jim and Big George… surfaced not long ago as a part-time film reviewer on “Chicago Tonight.” That’s okay because the nature of the show under the eminently forgettable Phil Ponce…who looks from one guest to another like one watching a tennis match all the while trying to think of something he can say…encourages average people to review films. Unfortunately the film Judy got to review was “The Golden Compass.” Whether it was just an accident or by design no one knows but as earlier described here the film is a much bowdlerized version of a children’s book series that is hideously anti-Catholic written by a fervent…if I can use that descriptive…atheist. The point Catholics who are knowledgeable about it is this: that by praising an otherwise bland and meaningless film, warrant can be made for sales of the very damaging and bigoted book.

Of course the “Sun-Times’” Cathleen Falsani liked it; you’d expect her to and be ignorant of the bigoted nature of the antecedent books because Falsani doesn’t read books—they interfere with her vacuum-packed pre-registered opinions on liberalism. Nor of course would Topinka who is an illiterate on Catholic matters and on things she is literate about has shown her disdain, having broken with her church on abortion and gay rights…and further, not knowing what the truth is. She is the only one I ever met who appeared on my radio show and refused as state Republican chairman to endorse a Republican U. S. senator who had not as of then decided he would not run, Peter Fitzgerald…and then lied that she had made the statement when 100,000 people in my audience heard it. That takes chutzpah and ignorance in equal measure.

You’d have to say that the producers of “Chicago Tonight” were indubitably dumb to give Topinka, hopelessly ignorant on the matter, a shot at reviewing a book that was fabricated for the purpose of hustling antecedent bigotry about her church—but then they don’t read books either. Ponce should have known but Phil is far from the sharpest knife in the drawer. Dan Schmidt could have known but he is too busy overspending his budget and trying to get more dough from the taxpayers to really be concerned. But now you know, don’t you?

Friday, December 21, 2007

Flashback: McCarthy’s Answer to Hubert’s Declamation—in Eller’s Voice…I Attend McCarthy’s Announcement Although He Doesn’t Say He’s Running for President. When Eller’s Not There, However, Gene Gets Demagogic.


[Fifty years of politics written as a memoir for my kids and grandchildren.]

The McCarthy Answer to Hubert—from Eller.

At exactly 10:07 a.m. by my watch on November 30, 1967, Gene McCarthy took a podium in the caucus room of the Old Senate Office Building and announced a decision that (a) would change the makeup of the Democratic party and (b) wrest liberalism from the working class preserve of blue-collars, organized labor, Irish Catholics and the first generation post immigrant crowd. It is clear now that with the McCarthy campaign the Democratic party embraced an affluent, more liberal, decidedly more elitist and intellectual breed that was, and is today, not particularly enthused about U. S. exceptionalism. He began a movement that took the party from my Irish grandfather’s working class roots to the Harvard faculty lounge. But we didn’t realize it then.

I had flown in the night preceding, had dinner with McCarthy and Jerry Eller at our frequent haunt, the Montpelier Room of the Madison hotel. At dinner the night before, Gene ate hurriedly and went home early to work on his statement. He said that Abigail would be at the announcement and would, indeed, help him in the campaign. Both Jerry and I looked relieved when he said that but said nothing to him. After he left, Jerry and I had a few drinks and I quoted, without attribution, Hubert’s remarks to Bill Brophy about McCarthy.

I thought a McCarthy reply would be better coming from Eller than McCarthy. McCarthy was by far the thinnest-skinned politician I had ever met. Eller was the man who largely crafted McCarthy and made him attractive to great numbers of people. He wasn’t understood by the Irishmen in St. Paul who were conservative and interested in minimum wage and things like that. Eller kept their interest by telling them McCarthy was their guy (although they knew he wasn’t). And it was Eller who saw the real McCarthy and caused him to reach out to great untold numbers outside his congressional district. In a sense, Eller was the approximate of Jim Farley. Except Farley took FDR all the way. Eller would have taken McCarthy that far if McCarthy had heeded Eller in the last act of the drama.

I asked Eller to comment on these things.

On the issue of McCarthy always being for himself and not for the DFL party whereas Hubert had built the party self-sacrificingly:

“Oh, that’s a lot of crap. You and I know that politicians—all of them---are like wives, I don’t know about yours but certainly mine.. They say they’ve worked their fingers to the bone for you and you don’t appreciate it. Politicians work their fingers to the bone for our party and no one appreciates this. Hubert worked his fingers to the bone to build the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party in Minnesota to advance his own political destiny . Nothing wrong with that except that he ought to get over that crybaby stuff that he did it for the greater honor and glory of God. He didn’t; he did it for himself which is the way the system always works. He did pick McCarthy to organize St. Paul and Ramsey county because he thought McCarthy would be a superior candidate for Congress which would help him—Hubert—build the party there. McCarthy went out and did what Hubert expected he would do—built the party in the 4th district and got himself endorsed, nominated and elected. There’s no Jesus Christ factor in this, Roeser: I lay down my life for my friends. Hubert didn’t lay down his political life for Gene and Gene didn’t for Hubert.”

On Gene’s petulant attitude of non-forgiveness toward opponents, his failure to shake hands until the very end of the Democratic convention with Eugenie Anderson.

“They’re [politicians] are all thin-skinned. I wish Gene would have a more tolerant attitude but he doesn’t. All the same, Eugenie was running against his religion pretty strongly when he sought the senatorial endorsement. In a sense she was a pioneer in the bigotry that Jack Kennedy later faced. She passed the word that Gene would be an irreconcilable pro-war candidate in the Cold War because he was linked with the Catholic church which she said is in ideological war with “godless Communism.” Well, her assessment was wrong and it was bigoted. She attempted to cash in on the notion that dogged Al Smith, that Catholics aren’t their own people, that they are prone to take orders from the Pope, all the stuff that Jack Kennedy laid to rest.

“Gene was the first to face it and it was tough. Hubert was part and parcel of that effort. Don’t kid me: he had a neutral face but he was for Eugenie and he was behind the anti-Catholic stuff she was putting out. I don’t fault Hubert because he had a perfect right to support a multi-million heiress who staked him with dough to organize the state for his own aggrandizement. I would have done the same thing Hubert had done—would have stuck with Eugenie. We just decided we’d let Eugenie wait around for us to come down to the convention after we won the endorsement, that’s all. We eventually shook hands with her.

“But no, I can’t entirely defend Gene’s rather dark Irish nature of non-forgiveness, no, any more than Larry O’Brien can defend the Kennedys’ non-forgiveness. You know what would happen to you if you ever got on the wrong side of Bobby Kennedy? Or Jack Kennedy? Hubert was on Jack’s wrong side in West Virginia and Jack and Bobby had FDR, jr. alleging Hubert was a draft-dodger. Far worse than Gene McCarthy would ever think of doing.

“But don’t mistake the fact that anti-Catholic bigotry was rife all around that Duluth convention in `58 and it was stirred up by that iron butterfly socialite Eugenie with the conscious aid of Hubert. I’d damn sight have Gene defending the church than Hubert with his country drug store attitude niggering us as Catholics and then turning his sunny face the other way as if surprised.”

On Gene’s laziness.

“[Sarcastically]. Yeah, he’s really lazy all right. A congressman at 30, a senator at 42, a presidential candidate at 51. Not widely different from Hubert, though who was mayor at 34, senator at 37, presidential candidate at 49 and vice president at 53. In addition to his phenomenal drive which is unobserved by most people, Gene’s habits of mind are reflective and so he reads poetry and philosophy and adds a deeper dimension to the craft of politics rather than reading polls. If he can absorb the nature of a hearing without sitting through it for four hours but goes out after two hours, that’s not lazyness; that’s conserving time.”

On Gene’s not being an intellectual at all—just playing one.

“Is Gene one? Yes. What we learned at St. John’s, Tom. One who believes there’s a transcendent moral order, a divine tactic at work in society, who seeks to uphold the principle of social continuity, who believes in the principle of prescription which came from the wisdom of our ancestors, who are guided, like Plato, with the principle of prudence. And yes, one other: chastened by the principle of imperfectability. Is this Hubert? I think not.. For Hubert, the purpose of life is to be somebody. He’s still the Huron, South Dakota pharmacist who’s scooping chocolate chip ice cream cones and trying to get people to like him. Nothing wrong with that. But there is something beyond just personal advancement in this business and if you’re caught questioning it or thinking it through, yes you’re an intellectual.”

On Gene’s lack of loyalty to the party and its president.

“That goes to Hubert’s concept of elephants in a circus. You see the elephants tramping around a ring in a circle, each grasping the tail of the one ahead of it. To Hubert that’s loyalty. You put in your time and you defend the wars your party gets your country into. Let me tell you, that’s old fashioned stuff.

“There’s a higher loyalty. It so happens that in this Cold War the Democrats—and I’m one—asked their party to do a lot of elephant walking. We did in Korea. Harry Truman in order to fight the Joe McCarthy charge that he was weak on communism, ordered troops to Korea and everybody stood up and saluted and grabbed the tail of the elephant ahead of him walking in a circle. That war was not justified and a lot of people—good people—lost their lives. I know pretty much what war is because I was island hopping throughout the war in the South Pacific. That war as bitter as it was for me was justified.

“But had I been involved in Korea or had I lost someone in Korea just simply because Harry Truman wanted to make a show of his bellicosity to Communism, I would be bitter. The same thing here—in Vietnam. You can’t show me that this war is moral or justified. Lyndon can’t and Hubert can’t. And the fact is that Eisenhower held it down in numbers of troops to only 700 advisers which is to his credit and blocked Vice President Nixon when Nixon wanted to escalate.

“Between Kennedy by escalating it to 16,000 and Johnson to a half million and Hubert pronouncing that to be 100% good Americans we’ve got to fight the Red Chinese, I think—and Gene thinks—it’s bellicose rhetoric and unworthy of this country’s mission. There is a new day dawning, a day when Democrats will decide themselves what wars are pertinent. Republicans are more the grasp-the-elephant’s-tail type but we’re not. And what Gene is doing is not to aggrandize himself. I don’t imagine he’ll get the presidency this time around; as a matter of fact he may very well end his career by doing this although if I have any breath left in my body I’ll see he doesn’t. .

“All I can say is if things were reversed, you’d never see Hubert challenging the pretext of the war as a senator.”

Why, because he is too patriotic to do so?

“No. Because Hubert like Johnson and the rest of the Cold War gang believe that communism is monolithic, that there is a domino effect whereby when one country turns communist its neighbor will and soon the entire world will be communist. That theory is wrong and will commit us to unending wars if it continues, in Southeast Asia when Europe is done, in the Middle East when Southeast Asia is done. . Hubert wouldn’t challenge it because he is in lockstep elephant-style with his trunk grasping securely the tail of the elephant ahead of him in line. It takes somebody like Gene to challenge that fallacy. Maybe it takes a Republican—I don’t know…a Republican like Bob Taft. But he’s dead and the Republican party is fixated with the domino style as well as Johnson and Hubert. That’s why this campaign is dramatic and historic. I don’t expect you to understand because you’re a conservative Republican. But at least you can tell your kids you were on hand when this thing got challenged as it will tomorrow.”

The McCarthy Announcement.

McCarthy who had never been to Vietnam said he was going to run in New Hampshire (where he had also never been to). And he never really announced that he was running for president; instead he said he was challenging President Johnson, saying:

“I am hopeful that this challenge I am making, which I hope will be supported by other members of the Senate and other politicians, may alleviate the sense of political helplessness and restore to many people a belief in the processes of American politics and of American government. On college campuses, especially, but among adult thoughtful Americans it may counter the growing sense of alienation from politics which I think is currently reflected in a tendency to withdraw from political action and talk of nonpartisan efforts; to become cynical and make threats of support for third parties or other irregular political movements.”

The moderate nature of the challenge was reminiscent of Taft-thinking. McCarthy refrained from attacking Johnson, stressing it was the issue of Vietnam on which he was concentrating. He stressed that he was a loyal Democrat and eschewed the words “dump Johnson” saying “The words `dump Johnson’ have never been one of my words. I think they are bad words. I think they are inexcusable. I think it is one of the things the press does that tends to interfere with a proper discussion of problems. The first question you get is, `do you want to dump Johnson?’ Well, I don’t want to dump Johnson.”

Gene met with Robert Kennedy often before announcing. He said he didn’t ask him what he was going to do; he wasn’t “worried as to whether I’m a stalking horse for [him]. I left it open to him. He didn’t give me any encouragement or discouragement. He just accepted what I’d said.” Eller who had been in the meeting with Kennedy was not so sanguine, believing that Kennedy was willing to see how McCarthy did before committing himself to superseding McCarthy with a challenge—an observation which proved right.

The condition of the campuses was quickly being radicalized. Eller accompanied McCarthy to one campus where the senator’s aide was assailed by a hippie type who said, “Bullshit! McCarthy’s just a front for Lyndon and he’s just trying to keep the campuses quiet. When McCarthy betrays us in Chicago we’ll burn the place down.”

McCarthy’s Off Base Criticism of Johnson.

Eller was the architect of the original McCarthy strategy—not to announce that he’s running for president as such, to state that he was entering the New Hampshire primary. As such his was far the better argument than the one Gene articulated when Eller wasn’t around. In a meeting with the Knight newspapers’ editorial board where Eller wasn’t present, Gene said: “Truman wouldn’t send up a Korean resolution. Harry said, `to hell with it; it’s my responsibility and I’ll do it.’ Johnson brings Westmoreland back to give a political speech. Truman fired Mac Arthur for giving a political speech. Truman said, `we’ll take over the steel mills.” Johnson calls the steel guys to the White House and says, `Now look, if you fellows want to fix prices, it’s illegal. But it’s all right as long as you do it in my presence.’ It’s like the calling in the barons and saying, `Now look, fellows, we have laws for the people but they don’t apply to you and me.’”

That kind of talk was far more draconian, less analytical and more demagogic not to say more downright inaccurate than Eller’s approach i.e. Johnson never said that to the steel executives but he may have implied it. And Johnson was surely on a sounder constitutional basis vis-à-vis Vietnam by sending up a resolution than Truman in ordering a “police action.” Was Gene saying that Truman’s unilateral declaration of war without Congress’ approval was the better course? Sounds like it. That’s what happened when McCarthy operated without Eller. But McCarthy was on sounder ground when he charged that Johnson misled the Senate on the Gulf of Tonkin resolution. “If the Foreign Relations committee has the nerve to really investigate the resolution, it seems to me the confidence of the public will be severely shaken.”

“Aw, I can’t be with him all the time,” Eller said to me. “My wife’s mad at me enough the way it is.”