Monday, October 29, 2007

Personal Asides: Congratulations to Henry Hyde…The 3 Elements of a Recession Come into Focus…New Presidential Candidate’s Phenomenal Recruitment of Volunteers.



Congratulations to Henry Hyde who yesterday became the recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom…an award richly earned for his legendary support of the unborn.

3 Elements.

The three elements that seem like a forthcoming recession to me, at least, are here: constantly falling housing prices…constantly rising oil prices…borrowers and lenders increasingly cautious. The hope is that Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke’s interest rate cuts will help keep the recession as mild as 1990-91 (which still lost the election for George H. W. Bush) and 2001.

New Presidential Candidate.

The new presidential candidate has eclipsed even the rapidly mobilized Barack Obama army via the internet. A 16-year-old high school student in Montgomery, Alabama, Raj Vachhani watched Stephen Colbert (pronounced as all the hip world knows as “col-bare”. He announced formation of “1 Million Strong for Stephen T. Colbert.” The drive has grown to more than a million members in just over a week, making it the most popular political group on Facebook thus far. Obama’s 1 Million Strong variant took more than 8 months to get 750,000 members. As of when I write this, the Colbert army has expanded to 1.3 million.

Flashback: The Bay of Pigs Debacle Leads to Worsening Relations Between Hubert and Gene: Their Bitter Words Never Healed with Gene. The Chasm Widens as Gene Moves Close to the Oil Depletion Allowance Boys from Texas.

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

The Bay of Pigs.

Hubert Humphrey’s assumption of the majority whip post in the Senate meant for this loyalist that he was on board with the Kennedy administration and was morally bound to defend it against its enemies—no matter what he thought privately. That’s the usual burden of political leadership and Humphrey desperately wanted to be recognized as an administration insider.

This came to a crucial test on the morning of April 15, 1961 when three flights of B-026B Invader light bomber aircraft displaying Cuban markings bombed and strafed Cuban airfields of San Antonio de Los Banos, Antonio Maceo International airport and the field at Ciudad Libertad. It was the first strike laying the ground for an invasion at Bahia de Cochinos—known as the Bay of Pigs. Earlier, on March 17, 1960 the Eisenhower administration agreed with the CIA that it should equip and drill Cuban exiles for an attack against the government of Fidel Castro. The CIA was confident…even cocky…that it could overthrow Castro since it had had good results earlier, in Iran of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953 and President Jacobo Guzman of Guatemala in 1954. There is no need to go over the details of the abortive invasion except to say that for its success it depended on a resolute White House. That resoluteness failed and a second air attack was canceled by Kennedy. Adlai Stevenson, the UN ambassador, had been lied to by the White House when Stevenson asked if it had been involved—and so Stevenson went out and misinformed the world.

The loss of nerve by Kennedy spelled the doom of the effort. Kennedy’s apologists later said he cancelled the second strike because of his opposition to overt action—but it is clear this was a blurring of the facts. It is supposed that Kennedy didn’t know—but those in the White House knew so he must have. Privately, Hubert felt Kennedy shouldn’t have scrubbed the second strike: he was much more of a hawk than the JFK advisers were. When the fighting ended, on April 21, sixty-eight exiles were dead and 1,209 put on trial. A few were executed but most were sentenced to imprisonment for 30 years. After 20 months of negotiation with the U. S., Cuba released the exiles in exchange for $53 million in food and medicine. As result of the failure, CIA director Allen Dulles and deputy directors Charles Cabell and Richard Bissell were all forced to resign.

Gene McCarthy was angered because Stevenson had been lied to. Hubert unwisely took up the cudgel of defending the administration’s motives for lying (to protect lives). McCarthy thought that answer was a pro-administration sop. “Well, that’s the difference between us,” said Hubert curtly. “You don’t see any obligation to defend anybody beyond yourself, Eugene—and it shows.” To which McCarthy said: “You feel an obligation to defend liars and it also shows.” In the Senate, McCarthy introduced a bill to set up a watchdog committee over the CIA. Hubert stifled the bill although public opinion seemed to agree with McCarthy.

McCarthy kept his seat on Finance but had to give up Public Works in order to join Agriculture—taking Humphrey’s place. The fact that McCarthy was the only Democrat from the Great Lakes states would seem to be important—but not to McCarthy. He pro-forma supported high price supports and the programs sponsored by JFK’s agriculture secretary Orville Freeman but the committee’s work was not high on Gene’s priority list. Once when Secretary Freeman went to see the Agriculture chairman, Allen Ellender of Louisiana, asking that Ellender support the administration, Ellender responded: “Mr. Secretary, I’ll support it and I’ll see that senators supporting this measure get there—but you see that McCarthy gets there.” That should have been easy since Freeman was a former Minnesota governor and Gene was the Minnesota senator on Ag—but it wasn’t. “I went to McCarthy many times and asked him to cooperate with us—at least show up. He said he would but he failed to do so. Let’s say he was totally unresponsive.”

One of the mysteries of the contemporary Senate was why McCarthy, a liberal, lined up sometimes overtly and sometimes covertly with the big oil barons such as Oklahoma’s Bob Kerr and supporters of the oil barons such as Virginia’s Harry Byrd. At first glance there was nothing similar about them in interest or in habits—McCarthy an abstemious intellectual and Kerr a big, hearty, bluff hand-shaker and self made multi-millionaire, the founder of Kerr-McGee and the Senate’s chief watchdog over oil and natural gas interests. But McCarthy knew that in order to move ahead in politics he would have to be on the side of powerful economic interests. So in picking and choosing, he decided he would favor oil and natural gas. But he played it carefully. He arranged an understanding with Kerr and Byrd that there would be some formalistic votes where he could register opposition to their interests to keep the record straight and protect him from attacks.

McCarthy’s basic point was that he would be absent often when a vote to repeal the oil depletion allowance would come up. The battle was a longstanding one by liberals to abolish the 27-1/2% depletion allowance that exempts oil and gas companies from paying any taxes on that percentage of their total oil income. McCarthy made a point to vote to “reduce” the depletion allowance in committee but would fail to vote when it would come up on the floor. Illinois’ Paul Douglas, a strong adherent of ending or (in compromise) to reduce the depletion allowance admitted that he was gulled when McCarthy joined the Finance committee, saying that in retrospect it was clear that McCarthy was placed there as a shill for the oil companies by Lyndon Johnson. Carefully and cautiously the big oil people saw to it that McCarthy was well funded—though their contributions were brilliantly shielded in opaque giving. He knew where the money was coming from and at St. John’s Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB did, too. Once McCarthy took the Benedictine theologian to Brainerd, Minnesota where old Bob Kerr had a secret estate, in cool northern Minnesota where he escaped the hot sun of Oklahoma. Godfrey who loved to sniff the “inside” was entranced to see a billionaire with his sleeves rolled up chomping a cigar, drinking scotch and playing poker with his staff.

If he carefully hid his votes on oil depletion—either to vote to reduce it when it wasn’t going to pass or not show up in order to show his solidarity with Kerr and Byrd—McCarthy was fore-square for Minnesota industry. He was a champion of Minnesota’s iron ore processors and for the big Minnesota-based mutual fund, Investors Diversified Services, Inc. (IDS). Once he sat by idly thinking to himself while Albert Gore, Sr. (father of the former vice president) lectured an executive of 3M that its highway billboards were cluttering up the nation’s roadsides.

“Most of the billboards I’ve seen advertise no products,” said Gore. “It just seems that they try to popularize a name—3M, 3M, 3M. What does 3M stand for anyhow?”

McCarthy murmured: “It stands for a lot in Minnesota.”

The committee roared with laughter.

The Humphrey-McCarthy alliance grew tattered, although their voting records compared side by side didn’t show it. They had almost identical voting records, differing only twice on major issues…McCarthy, of course, voting against reducing the oil depletion allowance and when McCarthy voted to take away research powers from the new Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Humphrey sponsored. But their differing styles chafed both. While they agreed on issues involving Minnesota, McCarthy felt Hubert’s style with machine-gun rapidity of press releases was not his. For Hubert’s side, he often called McCarthy’s office “Sleepy Hollow.” There were times when Gene’s office didn’t know where he was, which was inconceivable with Hubert’s whirlwind ever-present energy. “A couple of years after Gene came, we kind of gave up on his office for any kind of help,”Hubert explained later. “Hell, our office was running things pretty much anyhow—but it would have been better if Gene was a little more of a dynamo.”

Gene hated roll-calls and didn’t like it when he was criticized for missing some. He had a point. A Republican senator from Iowa named Jack Miller was a CPA and grammarian. He would amend language in bills to add semi-colons and take out commas. Each time a Miller amendment would come up, to add a semicolon and remove a comma, elderly Margaret Chase Smith of Maine who wanted a 100% record, had to hustle through the corridors to vote on these semicolons. She finally said the hell with it—because of Jack Miller. Hip surgery required her to stop her perfect voting record at 2,941. “Damn Jack Miller,” said McCarthy. “I told Margaret it was no good at all to break her neck voting for semicolons.”

Personal Asides: Chicago Media Watch Today in the Daily Observer…Do You Get the Idea Much of the Halloween Front Yard Decorations Evokes Adult Immaturity? You’re Right.


Media Watch II.

Chicago Media Watch II is up front and center this morning in The Chicago Daily Observer—

Halloween Adult Immaturity, the Peter Pan Syndrome.

Affluent societies abound in immaturity—as does ours. The reason is as old as the human species. When poverty erodes and ease and comfort abound, the psyche is not tested severely. It goes flabby and decadent. Nor is this a puritanical view. It is as old as the human race. All you have to do is to drive through upper economic strata neighborhoods to see it. Garish ghouls and hangmen’s nooses along with plastic make-believe tombstones are done not for the kids but mostly by adults who haven’t grown up yet and want to play kid.

To anyone with a long memory as mine which runs over seventy years of kid Halloween semi-misbehavior, the distinction between the Peter Pan syndrome afflicting many adults today and the semi-disapproving grouches that were old-fashioned adults of, say, the 1930s and `40s is like a chasm. In the 1930s the Depression was still upon us. Men worked for the most part six days a week (occasionally five and a half—mornings on Saturdays). Worries and strains of losing their jobs or their homes were ever-present. Men and women grew up serious. At the age of 40 they were fulltime workers without much money to spend aside from necessities. Halloween, which began as the eve of “All Hallows’ Day” or All Saints, was a festival for the kids. We kids began raising modified forms of hell usually in the evenings of the second week of October. Our tricks were definitely unauthorized by our parents who somewhat closed their eyes to our tomfoolery but allowed it because winter was coming and that meant long hours indoors with our books.

Our antics were conducted with peashooters—each kid had one (no girls allowed). We each had a bag of dried green peas which we tucked in our jacket pockets. We would pop a small handful of peas in our mouths, roll them around and lift the peashooter to our lips and blow the dried peas against the windows…after which we would run and hide in the bushes, scale trees or climb up trellises to garage roofs, vouchsafing to return and do the same thing until angry fathers would rush out of doors and shout: “Hey you kids! Get out of here! We see you! Get off that garage roof! We know who you are and we’re calling your folks right now, hear me? You’re goin’ to break your darn fool necks ya crazy kids, ya!”

Soaping windows would have to be done fast…zip!...and we’d run down the alleys breathless. It was called waxing but only a boor would use candle wax because it was the devil to wash off. An unwritten rule but important: nobody…but nobody…would wax a car body. Dirty pool. Yes we would tip over garbage cans in the alleys. Then by 8 p.m. we’d go inside where our mothers and fathers would say, “what you been doin’?” To which we’d say “nothin’. Nothin’.” Occasionally the phone would ring and our mothers would get a call from a neighbor complaining about us.

In case you’re wondering what girls would do the answer is nothing. They were all A students in grade school anyhow and would be doing their homework. But the next day at school their eyes would grow big and round as we male types would display our bravado. They would ooh and ah and say, “really? Did you do that?” The beginning of the epoch-old male strutting to impress the sensitive sex with our derring-do. That was Halloween without the adults messing it up.

When we would hit the magic year of 12…sixth grade…it was all over. Never to return. That was the magic year: 12. Then you put away the toys of a child. You turned in your peashooters to either your little brothers or ditched them. Anyone who kept on after 12, running through alleys with peashooters and mouths full of dried green peas, pausing to blow these peas at windows, were judged as either hopelessly immature or somewhat retarded. We then moved to the period which has never left some of us—being interested in girls and trying to act mature.

During World War II it all ended. With a good many fathers away in the service, organizations like civic clubs, churches and community chambers of commerce invented the ritual of kids dressing up and making home visits to collect candy. That was never done in the `30s. Nobody who ran down alleys with peashooters would countenance dressing up like spooks. It was—well—sissy. And you’d rather die and spend an eon in Purgatory rather than be called a sissy.

Now in our age of affluent decadence, parents are Peter Pans, always looking for tie-ins to fun…supposedly to share with their kids but the kids know it’s to relive their childhood. Thus the banal and…I’ll use the hateful word…sissy…adult competitions that are waged for the most innovative scenes on the front lawns. With TV stations showing the garish immature scenes on the 10 p.m. news. Decadence is what it is. No better word.

Usurping kids’ Halloween is just like Little League which usurped kids playing sandlot ball by themselves because Dad wanted to “manage” a team, intrude, relive some of the old days and lord it over kids. Little League is an invention for adult kids. Halloween front porch and lawn decorations is the same thing. Mom and Dad who never grew up want to relive a bit as kids. Actually, it’s disgusting. And it has only caught on in the last two decades when leisure has become rife.

Call me old-fashioned…and you’re right…but Halloween now is endemic of juvenilia for parents. There, I’ve said it.

What do you think? Write your views in Reader’s Comments.

Flashback: JFK Wins Narrowly and After a Scare (the Polls Showing Him Ahead by Only 2 Points) Hubert, by a Landslide, Nailing Down Senate Whip Post. All the While Gene Chafes at Humphrey’s Regularity and Makes Fun of Kennedy.

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

No Chance Nixon Could Have Won a Recount.

As the world will never forget, John Kennedy won election on November 8, 1960 by an eyelash….JFK 34,220,984 or 49.7%; Nixon 34,108,157 or 49.5%. JFK, 303 electoral votes (269 needed to elect); Nixon, 219.

His victory was ground out, some historians say, by only 8,858 votes in Illinois gained from a massive…almost half a million vote…plurality in Chicago. There is a great deal of romance about vote-fraud in Cook county giving Kennedy the presidency and as one who later became chairman of Chicago’s anti-vote fraud organization, Project LEAP [Legal Elections in All Precincts] from 1974-77 I can testify first-hand that vote fraud has always existed in Chicago and does now continue to exist. In the days when I headed the group, Republicans teamed with independent, IVI-style liberals in opposition to Richard I. Now all have been co-opted by Richard II and there is no wedge issue dividing liberals-- so vote fraud has died down as a media topic. And so there is no privately-funded anti-vote fraud watchdog.

One thing outsiders may not understand about Cook county vote fraud and the Democratic organization then and now is this: local contests have always been far more important to Cook county than the presidency, Especially was it true in November, 1960. The Democratic machine could have lived with a Republican president but dreaded a second term for a Republican county prosecutor. In November, 1960 a Democrat-turned Republican, Benjamin Adamowski, was running for reelection as Cook county state’s attorney. In his first term he had triggered the Summerdale police scandal which shattered old man Daley’s composure and reputation. And Ben Adamowski was gunning for Mayor Daley with his second term. To defeat him, the Democrats were running (as they always used to do when the heat was on about their corruption) a pure-as-snow candidate for state’s attorney, the former dean of DePaul’s law school, Daniel Ward. But this is sure: While Mayor Daley was interested in seeing that Kennedy carried the state, he counted it as a matter of survival that Adamowski not win.

There were several factors that helped Daley, hurt Adamowski and perforce Richard Nixon in Cook county. The Republican governor, William Stratton (Billy the Kid) was seeking his third term and in serious trouble. There was intra-party feuding with the GOP concerning Stratton. Former House Speaker Warren Wright who had sought the U. S. senatorial nomination over Samuel Witwer and lost, pledged to give Witwer the same support Witwer had always shown to Wright—nothing at all. The victims of all this in-fighting were obviously Richard Nixon and Ben Adamowski.

In a smashing effort to draw out as many Democratic votes as possible to crush Adamowski…and only peripherally to elect John Kennedy…Daley hosted a huge pre-election rally on Nov. 4, featuring a massive torchlight parade down Madison street from Michigan avenue to the Chicago stadium with more than a million people either watching or participating in the parade. It had 175 drum and bugle corps and 110 entertainers including Vic Damone, Joey Bishop, Tallulah Bankhead, Myrna Loy and Gene Kelly. At the stadium more than 25,000 heard Daley promise a 500,000 vote margin for Kennedy in Chicago and a 400,000-vote majority in Cook county. He didn’t stress Adamowski as a stratagem.

The prediction was right on the money. When the balloting ended, 1,679.804 voted in Chicago and 2,445,269 in the county. Was there vote fraud? I’m sure there was—but the myth that Daley elected Kennedy with vote fraud here is overrated: such vote fraud as occurred was for Ward not Adamowski. The huge turnout was to crush Adamowski. Dan Ward hammered away at what he called Adamowski’s dismal conviction record (actually Ward hugely overdrew the charge). Adamowski charged that Ward was a front man for the worst element of the machine—and he was right! Ward was on the ballot to appeal to middle class city and upper class suburban voters. Just before election, the “Sun-Times” straw poll (greatly effective) found Ward leading Adamowski 51.82% to 48/18%.

Adamowski (whom I knew later on when I became president of the City Club) was an excellent campaigner but was detailed by the state GOP to help save the state for Stratton and Nixon. He spent too much time on that effort, convinced he would be reelected. Too late he discovered the Ward surge and got back to home base. In fact so intent was the machine on defeating Adamowski, that the machine thugs were hustling votes on election day all over but made one big mistake. In the 62nd precinct of the 45th ward (Democratic territory) a Kennedy vote tabulator on a voting machine failed to operate all election day while precinct captains were busily totaling up numbers for Ward over Adamowski. By the end of the day Kennedy’s total read 000. Since Nixon’s total was 188 and the total vote for six other races ranged from 369 to 377, it was clear that Kennedy lost at least 190 votes. But that didn’t unduly concern the precinct captains: beating Adamowski was their first task.

Result: the line that Nixon was so much a statesman that he refused to try to overturn it is just that—a myth. Not that he was a wuss or laying down. As to whether the presidency would have changed hands had Nixon pursued a total recount, it would not. Astutely, Nixon took the high ground by refusing to contest, saying the nation and the Free World could not afford a continued battle of vote recounting with no determination for many months over who had won. By doing that he obviated the “sore loser” moniker and lived to have a second go-round at the presidency and allowed the “Daley stole the election for Kennedy” myth to grow until this very day. .

Why was Nixon’s choice to nix a recount smart?

As of December 1, 1960 after the canvassing and re-canvassing, Nixon just might... with stretching…count on 222 electoral votes (instead of his 219)—47 electoral votes short of victory (269 needed to elect). A win would require reversals not just in Daley’s Illinois but LBJ’s Texas—or conversely in one of the two states and two others. Suppose even if you would have luck in Illinois; you would not have a ghost of a chance in Texas so you’d have to go shopping for some dissident southern electors. Some southern electors were not so much interested in electing Nixon as in defeating Kennedy and would likely bid an unconscionably high price for switching—such as a total veto against civil rights that would have blackened Nixon’s name in perpetuity. . Even if you bought into that kind of thing, it would be tossed into the House of Representatives where it’d be another can of worms. The lame duck House was what you’d have to deal with—including Mississippi’s racist Bill Colmer, racist Jamie Whitten and Virginia’s segregationist old “Judge” Howard Smith, Rules chairman.

Even if Nixon were to sell out totally and the entire legitimacy of his presidency, it couldn’t like be done. Thus he did the “statesmanlike thing” but the only realistic thing to vow he would not delay the outcome.

In Minnesota, JFK won by 23,800 and Gov. Freeman lost by almost identically the same number. The Minnesota Poll that showed Hubert only 2 points ahead of his Republican opponent sent a tidal wave of funds pouring into his office—monies he would have dearly loved to have earlier in West Virginia. Result: Hubert…always a sunny optimist who preferred to let bygones be bygones…went back to the Democratic-led Senate enthused for future battles. He was once again the old Hubert—happy, upbeat, peppery, ebullient and a team player.

Hubert the Happy Warrior Once Again.

Overjoyed that he was sunny Hubert once again, Kennedy’s people asked him to go see Adlai Stevenson (who was in New York city) and get him to accept UN ambassador which Stevenson was thinking of turning down. Hubert was happy to do so.

Stevenson was in Bill Benton’s office (the former Connecticut senator and ex-advertising mogul of Benton & Bowles) when Hubert popped in. Hubert started on his salesman’s campaign when Stevenson tried to shut him down.

Stevenson said: “Well, Hubert, all of us know UN ambassador is a second-rate job. I was promised by that goddamn Bobby at one time I’d be secretary of state.”

Yes, said Hubert, but com’on, Adlai. Bobby wanted you to quit and you turned him down! You ran against Jack and so the deal was off! Not that I’m blaming you. After all, I wouldn’t let Minnesota vote for him at the convention! I think I made a mistake but such is life. In these things you got to live and let live, forget, let bygones be bygones. Besides, I think you ought to view this in a bigger perspective. What can you do for the job and what the job can do for you.

“I think he ought to turn it down,” said Benton. “Look who they picked for secretary of state: Dean Rusk. A second-rater. It’s going to be a second-rate administration and Adlai ought not to become associated with it.”

Listen, said Hubert, you can’t do that! It should be our job to make Jack look good! If Adlai turns it down, it’d be a black eye to a new president and set him off on the wrong foot.

So? Adlai said.

Then Hubert did what so often he did superbly, play to a client’s self-interest.

He said: You say UN ambassador is a nothing job. But look at what the job did for Henry Cabot Lodge who everybody knows is a dumb bastard. It put him on TV all the time. You can use this for your own benefit, Adlai! Who would be better than you at defending the Free World?

That began to make an impression. Thinking about the TV exposure, Benton, the marketing genius, said he had a point.

Just then the phone rang in Benton’s outer office and his secretary came in and said, “It’s for Sen. Humphrey—from Senator Johnson.”

Humphrey left and was gone about five minutes. In that time Benton convinced Adlai to take the UN job.

Humphrey came back and was told the decision.

“Hubert,” said Adlai. “You’re a helluva good man. I’m taking the job.”

Good, Hubert said. See when I go out of a room good things happen!

They laughed. Then they asked what LBJ had wanted.

Well, that was good news, too, said Hubert. He wants me to be Whip, number two to Mike Mansfield who will be Majority Leader. Suddenly the dynamics changed, Stevenson and Benton became the importuners and Hubert the undecided.

“Don’t take it,” said Benton. “Don’t!”

“I implore you, Hubert,” said Adlai. “Turn it down!”

But there was never a chance Hubert wouldn’t take the promotion.

In the same of God, why? Humphrey asked.

“Hubert,” said Benton. “You’re too good at what you do to be a hired hand for the administration. You have a great value of being an independent liberal. As Whip you’ll have to carry water for Kennedy and the administration. It would mean you’ll have to give up the freedom that gave you the leadership for this nation’s liberals. As an independent you can speak at length on any subject you choose. As Whip you’ll be waiting for the phone to ring with Jack or Bobby or Lyndon or somebody else telling you what they want you to do.”

But…but Adlai’s decided to take his job, said Hubert. Why shouldn’t I?

“Because I’m a generation older than you,” said Adlai. “I’m never going to run for president again. This is my last chance.”

Well, said Hubert, I’m not going to run for president again either. How old are you, Adlai?


I’m forty-nine, said Hubert. I’ll tell you. In my first two terms I had that independence you’re talking about. I was just looking at the statistics the other day. In those terms I introduced a total of 1,044 bills and joint resolutions. Not many passed. I have made mud pies and built dream houses long enough. I’m 49 years old and I want to do something. This would be the chance of working with the first Democratic president since Truman.

This was a small shadow of the real reason. Hubert wanted to be able to pick up the phone and get an appointment with the president and the idea of being that close to real power overwhelmed him. It was bigger than ego: it was job satisfaction. Besides, he felt his days of seeking the presidency were over. He would now be able to have regular policy discussions with the man who more than anybody else shapes the world today. It’ a chance to speak my mind in his presence and a chance no man can turn aside.

To Get Things Done You Go to Hubert.

Hubert became a great majority Whip and the “go to” guy to run the Senate. Mike Mansfield was a sweet guy, easy-going, sort of a scholar. Humphrey operated out of a small Whip’s office on the third floor of the Capitol. Mansfield didn’t like traditional arm-twisting; Humphrey excelled at it. Although second in command, he applied the Lyndon Johnson technique he had learned so well as an independent voice. He led Senate liberals to accept the administration’s compromises, spoke honeyed words to southern conservatives to get them to go along with New Frontier legislation. He scored an impressive list of home-runs: passage of minimum wage and aid to education, a compromise administration farm bill, convincing liberal senators to drop their opposition to Texas oilman John Connally as secretary of the navy, persuading conservative southern Democrats to approve the first black cabinet officer, Robert Weaver as head of the housing and home finance agency.

But because he now appeared to be all things to all men, he started to get under the skin of some of the northern liberals in the Senate—including Gene McCarthy. Gene wanted to start a senate version of the old House Democratic Study Group but he found that was tough to do with his senior colleague now having moved to the center. So he gave up on that. He started complaining that the Senate was more boring than the House. He started grumbling with a group of fellow liberals about the Kennedy administration. The story of a mini-rebellion was picked up by the columns. He was accosted one afternoon by the new vice president, Lyndon Johnson who said, “I understand you’ll be fighting us on a lot of things, Gene. Well, I’ll get even.”

Gene said masterfully (I think): “That’s all right, Lyndon. You can get even—but don’t go any further.”

The liberal revolt fizzled but one thing bothered Gene more than anything else—and you can put this down as a major reason:

John Kennedy was the first Catholic president—not Gene.

So in typical Gene McCarthy fashion, he started making fun of Kennedy—in his office to his staff and then off-the-record to some of his newspaper reporter buddies.

. He used to dissect Kennedy’s speeches and ridicule them. Somebody on the staff said that if Kennedy had delivered the Sermon on the Mount, Gene would have taken it apart.

One smart McCarthy crack got into the newspapers—which he had to deny but which he in fact said. “Listening to a Kennedy speech is like eating a meal in a Hot Shoppe [then a fast-food restaurant ran by the Marriotts]. It won’t poison you but it won’t nourish you either.” Later he’d put a variation on it. Talking to George McGovern about any serious issue (he said in 1972) is like eating a Chinese dinner. It goes down easily but a half hour later you’re hungry again.

Abigail, a Democratic team-player to the hit, didn’t like her man to make comments like that.

There was starting to be trouble in paradise between Gene and Hubert. And then the Bay of Pigs hit within three months after Kennedy took office.

It led to a very bitter fight between them and I must ruefully say in my estimation Gene was right and Hubert wrong.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Flashback: LBJ Chosen as JFK’s Veep Gets Hubert to Calm Angry Liberals…Hubert Doesn’t Have Enough Money to Get Out of Town…Everybody Plays the “It Might Have Been” Game. And Gene Goes to St. John’s to Brood and be Embittered about the Kennedys.


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

Hubert thought the worst was over after John Kennedy was nominated for president in Los Angeles and Lyndon Johnson picked for vice president. Now Hubert could go home and try to raise money for reelection—facing a tough opponent who was just a few points under him in the very accurate “Minnesota Poll.” But how to get out of town if you don’t have enough money in your jeans to pay the Hilton hotel suite, the food ordered in, the liquor and other expenses? The bill waiting for him at the front desk totaled $3,500. Humphrey turned to his fund-raiser Bill O’Connor, shrugged and pulled his pockets inside out indicating the cupboard was bare. O’Connor had a Carte Blanche credit card which had a $400 limit. O’Connor handed it in to the desk and ordered a cab for both of them while Humphrey scanned the paper. O’Connor was hoping that the desk wouldn’t say: Mr. O’Connor there’s a $400 limit on this and the bill is $3,500. If the desk had said this, O’Connor couldn’t have left. Luckily the desk accepted the card and they made their getaway.

Before Humphrey and O’Connor could get in the cab a bellman ran up to them. Oh-oh, thought O’Connor, he’s coming from the desk which has found out the $400 limit on my card. No, it was an urgent call on the phone in the lobby for Hubert. It was LBJ imploring Humphrey to do him a favor: convince the angered liberals that JFK hadn’t sold them out by picking Johnson. So Humphrey and O’Connor stayed for a while as Hubert went delegation-by-delegation babbling that Lyndon wouldn’t betray liberalism even though he had had a generally conservative voting record. He performed very well and finally he and O’Connor were able to get out of L.A. for Minnesota (Muriel had gone on ahead).

Afterward Hubert tortured O’Connor with groans that he was certain he had lost favor with Kennedy for many reasons: his refusal to bow out of the West Virginia primary, his chewing out FDR Jr.—but most of all his refusal to allow the Minnesota delegation to swing over to Kennedy but saw that it cast its 31 votes for Hubert who wasn’t running.

Humphrey wailed that his career was now at a prestige slump since the Democratic nominee was obviously upset. This time O’Connor couldn’t take it anymore.

O’Connor decided he needed a rest from Hubert in order to preserve his sanity and so he detoured from Humphrey at the airport and on a whim caught a plane to Las Vegas—to relax, drink a few adult beverages and play some golf. He was at his Las Vegas hotel the next morning when Carte Blanche called and asked him to hold on to speak to its auditor.

O’Connor said: oh-oh, here it comes.

The auditor said: “Mr. O’Connor, did you sign a $3,500 bill for Sen. Humphrey at the Statler Hilton yesterday?”

O’Connor, resignedly: Yes.”

Response: “Oh, that’s fine. We just wanted to make sure because it was a large amount.”

God, said O’Connor, will I ever recover from the onslaught of nerves this guy Humphrey has put me through?

He slept in the next day, got up, ate, played golf in the sun and sat down in the lobby bar and consumed a great deal of bubbly. Then he went out and gambled, saw a saucy stage show and came back to his room. I am, he felt, finally getting over these jangled nerves.

Then the phone rang.

It was---Hubert! Calling from Minnesota.

“Bill, get hold of Herbie [Waters, Hubert’s campaign manager and Senate administrative assistant]. Jack’s been in touch.”

“Jack who?” asked O’Connor.

“Jack WHO? Jack Kennedy! He wants us to set up a farm rally in Des Moines. I want you and Herbie to get down there right away. We’re back in this ballgame!”

Hubert was walking on air: he received a personal call from JFK who brushed off the Minnesota non-vote for him. LBJ was convincing JFK that Hubert’s value was golden—so he was ecstatic.

So O’Connor had to go back to work. Next stop: Des Moines.

Hubert got hold of Gene McCarthy and convinced him he should campaign for JFK so that they didn’t get the onus of being bad losers. McCarthy agreed and actually did travel a bit for JFK although under his breath he wasn’t doing the nominee much good.

Hanging around L. A., drinking a bit while Jane chafed, Orville Freeman was sorely wounded. The Minnesota governor had been drawn into the Kennedy headquarters and told the truth—which was startling enough. He was told that Lyndon Johnson would be asked first to run for vice president. Bobby said he was sure LBJ wouldn’t do it—and if he wouldn’t, the next choice was Freeman. Well, LBJ took it and Freeman had to traipse back to Minnesota where his polling numbers were awful and face a very good opponent in the Republican state senator and multi-millionaire Elmer L. Andersen.

Freeman lost to Andersen. He went to Washington as JFK’s agriculture secretary. Later and throughout his life until he came down with Alzheimer’s in his early 70s he was tortured by thinking that had he been picked for veep and Kennedy had been assassinated, he—Freeman—would be the president. He almost went batty thinking about it in old age until Jane told him to kick it—forget it and get a life.

As for Gene McCarthy, he caught a plane to Minnesota and took a few days off, ending up at St. John’s, the monastery, where he crashed and shared a few bitter memories with Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB. He talked Godfrey out of being a JFK fan but, of course, Godfrey would have no one else to vote for.

Your time is coming, said Godfrey and they both consumed some the beer made at the Abbey brewery.

Gene brooded and made some subliminal wisecracks.

But let us focus. This story isn’t about the other players—O’Connor who got soused and Orville Freeman with his diminishing popularity. No…it’s about the relationship and contrast between Hubert Humphrey and Gene McCarthy.

Hubert didn’t know it at the time but Gene did.

The convention of 1960 marked the formal end of any serious future collaboration between Hubert and Gene McCarthy. Hubert couldn’t have imagined it because he was fundamentally a simple, ego-obsessed character without any residual bitterness. While McCarthy was an ego-obsessed character with a huge residual of brine and bitterness. A dark Irishman.

From that time on, their relationship would disintegrate until they would become scorpions in a bottle that would affect U. S. history.

How that disintegration evolved, next time.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Persona Asides: Treasury Secretary Mentioned for Governor: At Conclusion of Term He May Follow Corzine and Rubin in the Public Sector.


Published Wednesday exclusively in The Chicago Daily Observer.

It’s never too early to speculate who will run for governor of Illinois in 2010 as Rod Blagojevich’s rocky road through controversy has stirred many to consider joining the lists.

The latest rumor—coming out of Washington, D. C. but with some impressive authority—is that the secretary of the treasury, Henry (Hank) Paulson, Jr. may be interested after the Bush administration leaves office.

Paulson, 61, was formerly chairman and CEO of Goldman Sachs, one of the world’s largest investment banks. His net worth has been speculated at close to $700 million. If Paulson decided to run, he will be following in the footsteps of his predecessor at Goldman Sachs, Jon Corzine (an Illinois native) who of comparable wealth is now governor of New Jersey, having served as U. S. senator.

Paulson maintains a home in Barrington. His political background has been far more extensive than Corzine’s—having served as staff assistant to an assistant defense secretary at the Pentagon from 1970 to 1972 and as an assistant to Nixon domestic issues chief John Ehrlichman from 1972 to 1973.

He joined Goldman Sachs in 1974, working in its Chicago office. He became a partner in 1982. He led the investment banking group for the Midwest region while working in Chicago and was managing partner of the Chicago office in 1988. Staying in Chicago he served as co-head of investment banking; then, moving to New York was chief operating office from December, 1994 to 1998. He succeeded Corzine as chief executive. His compensation package then was $37 million in 1005 and $16.4 million in 2006 with a net worth over $700 million.

Paulson was nominated as 74th secretary of the treasury by President Bush in May, 2006 and was confirmed by the Senate on June 28. His three immediate predecessors at Goldman Sachs left to serve the government: in addition to Corzine, Stephen Friedman and Robert Rubin. Friedman was chairman of the National Economic Council under Bill Clinton and Rubin both chairman of the NEC and treasury secretary for Clinton.

Paulson was born in Palm Beach, Fla. but was reared in Barrington Hills, Ill. He attained the rank of Eagle Scout and received his bachelors in English literature from Dartmouth (1968). At Dartmouth he was Phi Beta Kappa and won honorable mention as an All American football lineman. At Dartmouth he was active in a number of extracurricular groups including having served as president of the Christian Scientist organization.

He received a Harvard MBA in 1970. He met his wife Wendy during his senior year at Dartmouth. The couple have two children, Henry Merritt III and Amanda Clark and earlier this year became grandparents.

Paulson distinguished himself from his two Bush administration predecessors as treasury secretary by quickly identifying the gap between the richest and poorest Americans and has stressed his work to narrow the gap in recent appearances. He has been described as an avid nature lover—having been a member of the Nature Conservancy for decades and its chairman and co-chair of its Asia-Pacific council. He has worked in that capacity with the former president of the People’s Republic of China , Jiang Zemin to preserve the Tiger Leaping Gorge in Yunnan province. He donated $100 million worth of his Goldman Sachs stock to a family foundation thqat is dedicated to conservation and environmental education. He is on trhe board of the Peregrine fund, was founding chairman of the advisory board o the School of Economics and Management of Tsinghua university in Bejing and has served as chairman of the Financial Services Forum.

In contradistinction to some of President Bush’s cabinet, Paulson believes strongly in the effect of human activity on global warming.

Political Analysis.

Obviously Paulson cannot confirm and is expected to deny strenuously for now any interest in elective office as it would be improper and deleterious to his work as the administration’s top economic official. Nor would he necessarily have to rush to get geared up for the activity following his service as treasury secretary.

Were he to signal an interest on returning to Barrington after completion of his term, he would undoubtedly rise to a preeminent position among the Republican challengers. At present some attractive Republican names mentioned for governor include Ron Gidwitz, retired chairman of Helene Curtis (who ran in 2006), state House Republican leader Tom Cross and State Sen. Bill Brady.

If he were to succeed in getting the nomination, Paulson would not necessarily have an easy time winning the election for all his prestige. Illinois has been listed as a blue state for the past several years—particularly in 2006 when all the state constitutional offices went to the Democrats as well as control of both houses of the legislature.

On the other hand, if there is any reason for voters to suffer fatigue from Democratic rule and seek a change, the coming gubernatorial election would be the time. Gov. Blagojevich may well seek a third term and there is every indication that he will be challenged by the popular Democratic attorney general Lisa Madigan. There have even been suggestions that U. S. Senator Barack Obama would run for governor in order to give his burgeoning resume a provision for administrative experience. All this means that the Democrats will have their hands full in an internecine primary and could well send a victor to the fray with diminished resources and a seriously divided party.

Flashback: Limping and Footsore after West Virginia, Hubert Discovers His Favorables Have Slumped in Minnesota and Has to Raise Money for 1960 Reelection…Gene Places Adlai in Nomination, Freeman Nominates Kennedy and State Holds Firm for Hubert.

Flashback: More than fifty years of politics written for my kids and grsandchildren.

Three Way Split.

It’s a regular phenomenon. After a candidate loses a national presidential bid, his standing starts to slump in his home state. So it did with George McGovern after 1972 as it did with Humphrey in Minnesota in mid-1960. Hubert’s loss in West Virginia…a stellar event played high on all the networks and newspapers…caused his standing to fall precariously in Minnesota where he had to face reelection in November, 1960. Minneapolis had a Republican mayor, P. Kenneth Peterson, who sounded staccato, almost as good as Hubert. Hubert had to regroup quickly and start raising money for his reelection. He told JFK that he was sure he would win the nomination but as his own reelection was up, he couldn’t alienate Adlai Stevenson voters in Minnesota.

Meanwhile, Bobby Kennedy was anxious to secure the nomination on the first ballot at the Democratic convention in Los Angeles.. He asked Sargent Shriver to Gene McCarthy to see if Gene would support Kennedy. Shriver delegated a friend, Walter T. Ridder, Washington correspondent for the Ridder newspapers (which published the St. Paul evening and morning papers), who was personally close to JFK, McCarthy and Hubert, to sound McCarthy out. Ridder did. McCarthy flatly refused to do so. Ridder recalled later: “He didn’t say why but I gathered he didn’t think Kennedy had been a very good senator or a very good Catholic and he just didn’t like him personally.”

Privately McCarthy knew what he would do. He told a friend of mine: “I’m going for Hubert on the first ballot—that’s for Minnesota. And Stevenson on the second ballot—that’s for my staff. Finally Kennedy on the third ballot—that’s for Old Joe.”

The Kennedy people, wanting somebody from Minnesota to place him in nomination, started courting Orville Freeman, the governor in hopes of getting him to turn over Minnesota’s 31 delegate votes to Kennedy at the convention. Freeman was planning to run for a fourth term but was in dire shape in Minnesota due to a Republican comeback. Sargent Shriver and Ted Sorenson came to Minnesota to try to get him to get on the Kennedy bandwagon and talked to Freeman until 4 in the morning.

Freeman and his wife Jane flew to Illinois and went to the Stevenson farm in Libertyville to see how Adlai felt about seeking the presidency one more time. They found him typically indecisive. So, dejected, they returned without a candidate. Hubert told them (a) he felt Kennedy would be nominated but (b) Freeman should keep the Minnesota delegation free from commitment to Kennedy. “Once they got you in their pocket, they’ll ignore you,” he said. “Let’s keep Minnesota up in the air for a little while and we might get some national attention for all of us.” It may have been a wrong move for Hubert because by doing so he might well have foreclosed a chance to run with Kennedy for vice president—but Hubert never agreed, believing there was no reason why JFK would want him since both of them were northern liberals. But it was never offered. Moreover, Muriel Humphrey was embittered at the West Virginia charges about her husband trying to avoid the draft and she prevailed on Hubert to arbitrarily decide not to run for anything that year but reelection.

This was a rather different convention because Humphrey’s and Freeman’s wives got involved and went with their husbands often during the dickering at the convention. They started out as fast friends—Muriel Humphrey and Jane Freeman—but they were tussling with each other. Muriel wanted to punish Kennedy for what his people said about Hubert’s draft problem; Jane Freeman wanted her husband to sometime get out of the shadow that he had been under as a Humphrey assistant.

A key liberal operative, Joe Rauh, Jr., head of the ADA had been a strong Humphrey backer in West Virginia but switched to Kennedy. He was sent on an errand to Los Angeles and tried to look Humphrey up at his suite at the Statler-Hilton, to get Hubert to endorse Kennedy and seek to become vice president. He knocked on Humphrey’s hotel room door and there was no answer. Then he heard Humphrey’s laughter coming from the room. Humphrey fund-raiser Pat O’Connor opened the next door to the suite, saw Rauh and tried to slam the door to avoid him. Rauh caught the door before O’Connor could close it and wedged his foot to that O’Connor couldn’t shut it. O’Connor, unable to free his foot, tried to block O’Connor from coming in. Rauh swung a fist at O’Connor and missed. O’Connor swung back, hitting Rauh on the chin. But before O’Connor could finally slam the door, Rauh saw that inside the room was Hubert, Lyndon Johnson, Texas governor John Connally and Jim Rowe, a former Humphrey adviser who was also close to Johnson. Rauh decided they were trying to put together a stop Kennedy move on the convention floor. But interesting as it was, Rauh had to look up a doctor because O’Connor had dislocated his jaw.

Inside the room there was desperate last minute parley to stop Kennedy. Humphrey told LBJ that “Muriel would divorce me if I ran with Kennedy.” Muriel who was in the room nodded vigorously but she was grinning. She also opposed Freeman’s attempt to swing Minnesota over to Kennedy. Johnson asked if he thought he could stop Kennedy. Humphrey said yes but suggested that he should make a deal right then to name Gene McCarthy as his vice president. “The man to run for vice president on your ticket is Gene McCarthy,” he said. “He’s the guy for you. But you’ve got to promote him.”

Meanwhile, Stevenson at long last decided to run. Kennedy’s people calculated that they almost had the nomination sewed up except for California (81 votes) and Minnesota (31). Kennedy met with Gov. Freeman on the day of the balloting and said he would give Freeman top consideration for vice president if he could have Minnesota’s votes. Freeman went to Hubert and said. “Com’on, Hubert. I’ve done everything for you this far—from helping you become mayor of Minneapolis to Senator to running for president. Now let me have my turn.” Then their wives got into it. Jane Freeman said, “Hubert, you can’t act like a big pig and control everybody’s future destiny as you have for more than ten years, running Orv around like a galley slave!” Muriel counted: “What? Orv is governor today because of Hubert—remember that, young lady!” Their husbands pleaded with them to quash it.

“Tell you what,” said Hubert. “I’ll urge the Minnesota delegates to support you [Orville Freeman] for vice president and maybe that’ll sweeten it so they’ll nominate you.”

Freeman thought that would be a good deal but Jane Freeman—the tougher negotiator—said: “No, there’s no percentage in that. Kennedy needs the votes to get him over the top and the only chance Orv will get if he you release them.”

They broke up at this point and Humphrey said he’d think about it. He did, talked with Muriel, got her calmed down and then decided to back Kennedy. No sooner did he decide than there was a knock on the hotel suite door and it was Gene McCarthy who came in to visit with both Humphreys, Hubert and Muriel..

McCarthy had the perfect solution which turned Hubert back to his and Muriel’s original proposition of not backing Kennedy.

McCarthy said: “Hubert, I understand you’re going to throw in with the Kennedys. I think that’s the right decision. I’ll go to Kennedy with you and we’ll kneel down and seek absolution together. All those stories about Bobby bringing FDR Jr. into West Virginia and calling you a slacker—they’re totally unfounded!”

That irony inflamed Muriel again and she said no, by god, they’re not going to do it. Hubert agreed. That was Hubert’s final position at the convention. McCarthy said Hubert might want to consider placing Adlai Stevenson in nomination even though Stevenson didn’t have much of a chance. Hubert said: no, too much sour grapes. But he was seriously thinking about letting the Minnesota delegation go to Stevenson. Then Kennedy called Freeman—who was always a dog on a leash begging to be let go so he could endorse Kennedy and maybe land the vice presidential nomination. Kennedy told Freeman: “I’ll let you place me in nomination if you can get Hubert to pledge that he wouldn’t make the nominating speech for Stevenson”

Freeman came running back to Hubert and said: “Kennedy will let me make the nominating speech for him—and maybe I’ll get the vice presidential nomination. Will you for the love of God let me go? Will you let me tell them that you won’t nominate Stevenson?”

“Tell you what,” said Hubert. “Yes—but I won’t be bound by that pledge until I see on the news ticker that you’ve been picked to nominate Kennedy.”

Hubert met with the Stevenson people and told them since the Catholic Kennedy picked a Minnesota Lutheran, Freeman, to nominate him, why didn’t Stevenson, a Unitarian, pick a Minnesota Catholic, Gene McCarthy to nominate him now that Stevenson had finally decided to run? The Stevenson people agreed so McCarthy was picked.

And Muriel Humphrey said to her husband: “That’s fine. Now keep the delegation firm for you even if you’re not running. Don’t give that [explective meaning Kennedy] any of our votes.”

That’s exactly what happened. McCarthy announced his support for Stevenson at the Minnesota caucus and sat down to write the nominating speech—which incidentally proved to be the best speech he ever made…and the best convention speech journalist Robert Novak said he ever heard in his life. Freeman wrote his for Kennedy. And the Minnesota delegation told the Kennedy people that they weren’t for sale or rent by Old Joe.

“I love it!” said Muriel.

Thus Minnesota played a climactic role in the convention (as it had in the Republican one of 1960 with Walter Judd’s keynote). Hubert kept his faith with Muriel and his own conscience and the state at his direction didn’t go for Kennedy. He released Freeman to place Kennedy in nomination (Freeman not getting the vice presidential nomination and losing reelection as governor but becoming Kennedy’s agriculture secretary). McCarthy placed Stevenson in nomination. He made notes and talked it over with his former aide Larry Merthan and said, “I think it’d be good to ask them not to turn their backs on this man [Stevenson].” Merthan nodded but thought it over.

Before he ascended the convention rostrum, Merthan, grabbed his shoulder. He said: “No, don’t say they shouldn’t turn their backs on Stevenson. It sounds too much ike Dean Acheson saying he wouldn’t turn his back on Alger Hiss.”

McCarthy said: “All right.” So when he changed it to: “Don’t reject this man.”

Of all the speeches McCarthy gave it was most radically different and unlike anything else he ever gave because it wasn’t scholarly but emotional. He asked delegates to nominate no one on the first ballot. He told them Stevenson did not claim greatness nor seek power for himself—a thrust at Kennedy. The windup, entirely ad lib was: “And so I say to you Democrats here assembled: Do not turn away from this man…Do not reject this man who has made all of us proud to be Democrats. Do not reject this man who, his enemies said, spoke over the heads of the people but they said it because they didn’t want the people to listen. He spoke to the people. He moved their minds and stirred their hearts and this was what was objected to. Do not leave this prophet without honor in his own party. Do not reject this man.”

The speech was the highpoint of the convention but a few hours later Kennedy received the nomination on the first ballot over his nearest challenger Lyndon Johnson with 806 votes, Johnson’s 409 and Stevenson’s 79-1/2. But Mississippi’s John Stennis, in his cups, chorted: “You gotta give old Hubert credit! One of his boys nominates Kennedy, one of his boys nominates Stevenson and the state delegation sticks with him to the end!”

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Personal Aside: David Brooks Has His Limits



About “The New York Times’” David Brooks, the house “conservative” who succeeded Bill Safire, this can be said: Brooks is better than Safire since Safire, a mere wordsmith, had no overriding feel for public policy…pragmatic on all counts…excepting (which absolutism I share) aside from the Middle East and Israel. Brooks has…and he has been superior to his predecessor in many ways. When Brooks is good, he is very-very good. And even when he’s bad he is not awful—just mystifyingly obtuse.

Not long ago he ventured on one of his excursions into conservative philosophy. Brooks shouldn’t do this because he is not a philosophical conservative but a visceral one. He started out saying that Alexander Hamilton, Abraham Lincoln and Margaret Thatcher were not just strivers but all three helped create an “economy where people like [them] could rise and succeed.” Right. Hamilton used government to bolster the merchant class “to widen the circle of property owners.” Lincoln “championed roads, canals and banks so enterprising farm boys like himself could ascend and prosper.” He is right that Lincoln, like Hamilton, used the federal government to aid commerce—the Homestead Act and land grant colleges. Right so far as he goes; but these were pioneering efforts—at a far different and more primitive time than ours..

Thatcher “gave the British working class access to homes and property so that they would become more industrious and independent.”

Hamilton’s pioneering role linking government and the economy was indispensable at the time. If anything to build on it today is to exhibit more of the old politics. In a very real sense, he invented the old politics. It was needed to counter Jefferson’s will-of-the-wisp agrarian dreams that made no role for cities or their commerce. . A strong central government, a national bank, assumption of states’ debts and responsibilities by the federal government; trade and duties on imports to help pay the bills; patronage tied to politics (Treasury money paid out to supporters and friendly newspaper editors): these were Hamilton’s contributions and some of them not pretty. His strength was that at a time of outlandish Articles of Confederation weakness he incorporated a tough federal spirit. Dear God, in this era of federal government activism, we don’t need more of that today, do we?

Lincoln’s domestic plan was a rather outrageous extension of federal power overshadowed by his mastery in outmaneuvering the South in running the War. His domestic policy linked federal power to the railroads (whom he had served earlier as lawyer, legislator and lobbyist). The land grant colleges and Homestead Act are not exactly applicable today unless we want more of the Great Society.

About Thatcher, Brooks is wildly wrong. Her contribution was to sharply reduce the role of government and cut the suffocating role of unionism. She was an abstemious monetarist which meant that at a crucial time…even though it caused pain…she increased taxes (violating her supply-side instincts) while pushing for tighter money much like what happened under Reagan and Volcker to wring inflation out of the economy. Thus the three comparisons don’t merge as pertinent to these times.

What is glaringly incompetent political analysis is what Brooks decries.

And what he decries when he criticizes Republican candidates for president by saying that they merely “declare their fealty to general principles: free trade, lower taxes and reduced spending…But there was almost nothing that touched concretely on the lives of ambitious working class parents who are the backbone of the GOP.”

Mystifying. If reduced taxes, free trade and cuts in spending don’t help the working class nothing will. Certainly it is not another dose of big subsidies. He complains “they talked far more about cutting corporate taxes, for example, than about a child tax credit for working families.”

In contrast, he says, Hillary Clinton is stealing the Republicans’ lunch. She is offering a plan for families earning up to $60,000 a year. If they invest $1,000 toward a new 401(k) account they would get a matching $1,000 tax credit. The plan “poaches on economic values that used to be associated with the Republican party. Moreover, it undermines the populist worldview that is building on the left of her party. Instead of railing against globalization and the economic royalists, Clinton gives working people access to Wall Street and a way to profit from the global economy.” Brooks doesn’t understand that these are routine throw-away ideas which have always intrigued liberals—no vision. Hillary has no vision she can afford to enunciate without shattering her coalition.

Brooks doesn’t understand the need to support tax cuts and pared expenditures. Other times Brooks is very good. It’s only when he gets into goofy Hamiltonian, Lincolnesque and Thatcherite comparisons as arguments for more statism that he lags.

But even Homer nods, right? Your comments?

Flashback: Humphrey’s Decision to Enter the West Virginia Primary Leads to Bitterest Dem Fight with Bobby Sparking Questions of Hubert’s Avoidance of Military Service in World War II.

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

Bobby Kennedy’s message delivered circuitously to Hubert was that if he decided to enter the West Virginia primary after having lost Wisconsin to JFK, he was enlisted in something more than running for president—an LBJ-backed attempt to stop Kennedy which would lead to a brokered convention. There was something to be said about that since Gene McCarthy had arranged for LBJ to send money roundabout to Bobby Byrd to be used for Humphrey. Both sides tried to downplay the religious issue in the battle for an economically depressed state—but personalities were another thing. Jack Kennedy hired Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr., who was down on his luck and trying to angle a future job in Washington to go to West Virginia and campaign for him. FDR Jr. raised the question of Humphrey’s repeated military deferments in World War II. While Hubert slugged Kennedy for overspending in the primary, FDR’s son said that while Kennedy was commanding a combat patrol boat in the South Pacific, Hubert was getting repeated deferments.

One deferment Hubert got was extremely questionable, I feel—and I suspect it was arranged reportedly through his contacts with the Democratic National Committee while he was inventing the hybrid that became the DFL party in Minnesota. That was his designation as belonging to an essential wartime industry when he was lecturing to Army Air Corps students at Macalester college in St. Paul. But outraged at the charge, Humphrey began to slug harder at Kennedy—not just for massive expenditures but for questionable fund-raising. He charged, “I can’t afford to run throughout this state with a black suitcase and a checkbook.” It was a hint that Kennedy’s money, routed from the Old Man, had some Mafia ties to it—which, of course, was true.

Trying to douse the bitterness, Humphrey’s campaign manager Herb Waters and Kennedy’s Lawrence O’Brien met several times late at night at the Charleston Press Club, trying to defuse the bitterness. Finally Kennedy agreed to an hour-long televised debate on May 4, 1960. The debate was inconclusive: Hubert charging over-spending and Kennedy hinting that he was being used as a stalking horse. Underneath this battle was the issue of Kennedy’s Catholicism. Kennedy’s people wisely determined that they could turn it into a plus—by going at the issue frontally and allowing West Virginians to prove to the world they were tolerant by voting for JFK. That idea was concocted by one John Cogley, a liberal Catholic from “Commonweal” magazine who wrote the minor masterpiece JFK delivered later to the Houston ministers—Cogley ultimately leaving the Catholic church for the Episcopalian over the church’s opposition to artificial birth control and other issues. But Cogley’s idea was brilliant since Hubert couldn’t discuss the religious issue without appearing intolerant himself: thus he was the victim of reverse bigotry…not the first time nor the last that candidates running against members of minority groups, religious and otherwise, have been so stymied.

The big issue that bedeviled Hubert was money—the lack of it. Organized labor wanted him out of the race so it deserted him, heavily in debt from Wisconsin, he was forced to spend much of this time off the road, telephoning his friends pleading for help.

JFK had his own private plane, named after his daughter “The Caroline.” In contrast everything associated with Hubert’s campaign was hard-scrabble.

All the while, Bobby Kennedy kept peppering Humphrey’s friends with threats of recriminations if they gave him so much as a nickel. Humphrey campaigned gallantly and only one time did he lose it. That was in a Charleston hotel room on May 10 when he told Herb Waters he needed several thousand dollars for an election-eve TV voter appeal. Waters had to tell Hubert he didn’t have a nickel. Hubert blew up yelling, “Goddammit! We’ve got to get it!” He chewed Waters out as a false friend and Waters, stressed to the limit, broke down and cried—and Hubert joined him, the two of them hugging each other and weeping. They made up quickly. Hubert then went to his own bank account and paid for it.

Two hours after the polls closed it was obvious Hubert was going to be trounced. Jim Rowe wanted to issue a statement for Hubert saying the election was bought—and there was good reason to insist it was. But Hubert knew that by continuing the bitterness with a likely presidential nominee, it would result in high-level damage for him. He took a walk in the rain around Charleston on election night after the polls had closed, thinking. When he returnedto the hotel, it was clear that Kennedy had just about wrapped up the nomination—winning 60.8% compared to Hubert’s 39.2%. Hubert read a generous concession in which he voice broke—congratulating “my friend Jack Kennedy for a significant and clear-cut victory.” He said: “I am no longer a candidate for the Democratic presidential nomination.” To the “Minneapolis Tribune” he said, “when you’re licked you’re licked. He got more votes than I did. I ought to be home. I’m going to be home for my daughter’s wedding Saturday. I lost a primary and gained a son-in-law. I think I’m ahead.”

Hubert had a private score to settle, however. That was with Franklin D. Roosevelt, Jr. and his draft record. It rankled. Sure, Hubert never did enter military service. Two places earlier in these articles I alluded to it. He tried to enlist in the Naval Reserve several times but was rejected because of color blindness and a double hernia (which he didn’t have repaired until 1950—an indication he wasn’t eager to go). He was first classified as 3-A in 1940 because he was married and a father. That was okay but he was reclassified as 2-A as an “essential civilian” because he was teaching Army Air Corps cadets at Macalester. Com’on. (Note: I always thought and still do that his connections with the Democratic hierarchy in Washington, D. C. had something to do with it but this is unproven but highly suspicious since he was readying himself to make his first unsuccessful bid for Minneapolis mayor and didn’t need to be drafted which would interrupt his political progress). In July, 1944 he was reclassified 1-A and called up for induction but his double hernia, never repaired until five years after the war, and a minor lung calcification caused by childhood pneumonia, got him finally classified 4-F.

In a interview much later with biographer Albert Eisele (later to become Vice President Mondale’s press secretary), Humphrey said about Franklin Roosevelt, Jr.: “It’s a simple story—I simply wasn’t accepted. Roosevelt knew that. I brought him into my office after the campaign and showed him those draft records. I said to him, `Frank, you know goddamn well that what you said isn’t true.’ And Frank said, `I know that but Bobby asked me to do it.’” Asked if he ever forgave Roosevelt for it, Humphrey said “nope.”

It was the first time that he had ever said of an assailant that he didn’t forgive. Humphrey was pressed on that question by Eisele and answered:

“I did not forgive him for that because I thought it was unconscionable.”

Question: Bobby or FDR, Jr.?

“Both, but mostly FDR.”

Question: He said Bobby asked him to do it?

Hubert: Yes.

Now there is little doubt that Hubert used his pull to get out of the military—which he wouldn’t acknowledge. But when FDR Jr. used this, it was tacky and he had a right to be angry—even bitter.

Far more bitter than Humphrey, however, was Gene McCarthy. Not so much for what he did to Hubert on the military service issue (Gene himself avoided the service twice, once as seminarian and then as CIA cryptographer) but animosity at Kennedy’s trying to be the first Catholic president. McCarthy’s dark Irish bitterness toward the Kennedys never quit. He told others and told me that he was utterly unimpressed with Kennedy when he served with him in the House. Kennedy, he said, had no understanding or much interest in House procedures and little more in U. S. history. Frankly I don’t know how he knew this since service in the House for both was widely divergent. I will wager they spent very-very little time in each other’s company. And as for Kennedy’s having little understanding of House procedures, how would McCarthy know? The only thing McCarthy really knew about Kennedy when they were in the House was what everyone knew: bachelor Kennedy was a dilettante, ladies man, a rich man’s son, undisciplined, lazy and prone to skip out early.

During the presidential primaries, Kennedy phoned McCarthy and asked to see him. McCarthy walked over to his office. Kennedy asked Gene to tell Hubert “to lay off my farm voting record.” He had voted early on for the Ezra Taft Benson flexible price program and Hubert had justifiably zinged him with it in Wisconsin and West Virginia.

McCarthy said he refused to do so—and told him, “Jack, you’ve got looks, money and personality and all Hubert’s got is your voting record.”

That didn’t help Hubert, incidentally, did it? Telling Jack he had better looks and personality, especially (see, a key to McCarthy’s ability to demean even his allies). Anyhow, it almost ended any relationship that had existed between the two. Later when Kennedy vowed to keep church and state strictly separate, McCarthy wrote in “America” magazine, a publication put out by Jesuits, that they cannot be kept truly apart: “If a man is religious—and if he is in politics—one fact will relate to the other if he is indeed a whole man.”

“A whole man,” JFK is reported to have repeated to aides as he read the article. A true McCarthy dissection. Wonderfully psychoanalytic. That did it.

Later when both were at a Democratic party fund-raiser and Kennedy was besieged with autograph seekers, McCarthy commented fairly loudly, “Pay no attention. The meat is so bad they had to find something to distract them.”

After hearing Kennedy quote history in his speech, McCarthy leaned over to someone and said in a voice that carried: “Gee, all those years in the House I never heard him quote history.” The history allusions which were to be Kennedy’s trademark came, of course, from his ghost writer Ted Sorensen which McCarthy fully understood.

To me as to others McCarthy once said—reflecting on the West Virginia primary—“I remember poor Hubert out there…running to catch the North Central DC-3 and then looking out on the field to see the `Caroline’ [the family’ private plane] waiting on the apron with the soup bubbling in the kitchen.”

There was more to Gene’s bitterness than anger over what the Kennedys did to Hubert. It was the Gene McCarthy I know well—brimming with resentment and a determination to get even. Hubert remembered Bobby’s so-called dirty trick of getting young FDR Jr. to slug Hubert, but ultimately forgot it and went on to a kind of joyous series of battles. Gene was never joyous about anything. He forgave nothing and remembered everything.

The episode illustrates something else. In using the Hubert draft issue, Bobby Kennedy wasn’t more a dirty player than Dick Nixon on other things (remember Nixon’s reproducing Helen Gahagan Douglas’ very liberal voting record on pink paper which he called “the Douglas pink sheet”?). But the galling thing to me is that in current liberal media mythology, Bobby is a saint the way John became a saint (they just “grew” into greatness as the courtesan Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. reported). Hubert is forgotten, Gene is largely forgotten but the Kennedys shall live in our mythology forever and ever. God!

Pardon me while I gag.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Personal Aside: What Does King Richard II Have in Mind for a New Chicago?


I tried to ask this question to two very knowledgeable guests on my radio program on Sunday night. They either didn’t want to answer it or couldn’t. Therefore I will…and I ask your indulgence to hear this through before you zing me in Reader’s Comments.

The Democratic regime in Chicago has existed since 1931…a total of 76 years which is two years longer than the Soviet Union ran. In all there were four very powerful mayors…actually three to be specific. The first powerhouse was Anton Cermak [1931-33] whose legacy…the Democratic machine…was created largely when he was president of the Cook county board. Cermak was assassinated before his mayoralty came to full fruition—but we include him as the builder of the machine (much as we do Lenin in the USSR) but his mayoralty was cut short.

The second was Edward J. Kelly [1933-47], the mayor when I was a boy. He took the mayoralty and moved it to a national perspective. He was dethroned when he failed to recognize the incipient racial struggle between blacks and whites—and was kicked out because he was too partial to the blacks. Hence Jack Arvey and others decided he had to go. (Arvey told him: “You’re even losing among the Irish!”). But Kelly’s dream was realized in that he became a national political figure in the Democratic party and participated hugely in the FDR victories as well as the beginning of Harry Truman’s presidency.

Third was Richard J. Daley, the mayor who served in my young manhood. He I regard as the greatest mayor of them all because…to be hideously blunt about it…he faced up to looming race riots and white nihilistic revolutionaries and devised a Grand Strategy that would have been fatal had it been publicized officially. It was: (a) forget the media; (b) don’t court radicals in any way; (c) convince the white middle class and blacks who wish to participate in the machine that there is a place for them and (d) court big business. The result was that the middle class understood Daley would be the man Roland was (not that they had ever heard of Roland) and they stayed in Chicago. As one who met him once, as I was preparing to go to Washington to run the black capitalism program (then called minority enterprise) I can testify that he was provincial, insensitive and unsympathetic to the boiling caldron of black poor. But it is clear that had he tried to deal with the poor’s problems ala John Lindsay (who was a gross failure as New York mayor) he would have lost his white middle class base and that of big business as well.

He was not only astute is remaining aloof from seeking to be a kind of Mother Teresa pol, ministering to the black poor, he was courageous. He stood up against a ferocious assault by the media—Mike Royko, Len O’Connor, all the rest of them. The greatest thing he did came with the riots following the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr. That was his official order issued to the police for which he was widely condemned by the media and liberals—“Shoot to kill any arsonist or anyone with a Molotov cocktail in his hand because they are potential murderers…and shoot to maim or cripple anyone looking any stores in our city.”

That statement galvanized white support and emboldened the city to join with him in forsaking the trip to disaster that was made by Detroit. To me he resembled the mythological (perhaps) but medieval Roland, the nephew of Charlemagne who held the mountain pass open against the Saracens for others to pass through safely. Richard I was the greatest mayor because he was self-sacrificing. He took the heat that had to be dished out in order to preserve order. And he did it also at the Democratic convention.

Now let’s recap. Richard I’s Grand Strategy was to forget media criticism…add what minorities he could to the Democratic machine—give some of them elevator jobs at city hall, promote servile types like the senior Stroger and others… but taking care not to allow them to take it over, preferring passive ones…instill the white majority with his refusal to buckle and encourage big business to stay—which gave all of us the legacy we have today. I repeat: Richard I was the greatest.

Richard II is much different from his father but he has a Grand Strategy too. Or Grand Strategy II. . He has forsaken the Democratic party because (as John Kass believes and I think it right) he was stung when Jane Byrne was mayor and ran Ed Burke for states attorney…with an appalling number of Democrats backing Burke. Daley perforce decided to obviate the Democratic party and build a cult of personality—his own. Thus the supplicants who wanted jobs went not to the party but to Daley II’s minions. That in itself may ultimately do him in by connecting his fiefdom to patronage corruption—but Patrick Fitzgerald will have to act soon. President Bush who is no fan of Fitzgerald’s will be leaving office and it is indeterminate what his successors will do. If I were to guess, if the successor is Republican, all except Mitt Romney, will reappoint Fitzgerald (if, that is, Fitzgerald wants to continue to serve). Romney has said he will not (angry as he is at the conviction by Fitzgerald of Scooter Libby). I don’t know but I would imagine the balance of the likely Republicans would re-appoint Fitzgerald because it is in their interest to see that the Democratic USSR version here is weakened.

Of the Democrats I have no first hand knowledge, of course, but I would seriously doubt that Hillary Clinton would reappoint Fitzgerald. She is too good a Democrat to see the city’s strong mayor and his citadel assailed. Barack Obama would probably not (although I don’t imagine he will have the opportunity). The others in the lineup don’t matter because odds are they’re not going to be nominated or elected anyhow.

But I digress. There are very good odds that Daley will not be indicted and that the only ones who go to jail are his minions. Now what would be the Grand Strategy for Richard II?

Well, first of all, he seems intent on violating all the canons of good political sense. He is proposing to raise taxes to a stupendous rate—far more than he needs to. Why? My personal view is that his Grand Strategy is to leave the city far more politically impregnable than his father did. You remember his father very nearly lost in an ethnic revolt to Ben Adamowski—and the shifting sands of personality cult may not be extended to anyone after Richard II given the potential for cultural upheaval in the city.

Well, to glimpse Grand Strategy II, just take a look at what the city has become. Looking over the neighborhoods you see what were deteriorating ones becoming gentrified. You see an older, largely white, once suburban and exurban group moving back…their kids having been raised. They want to take advantages of the cultural limelight of the city. You also see young singles coming here—fresh from Harvard B school, young people with law degrees taking up jobs as associates at $90,000 a year at prestigious firms; bond traders; young single women in real estate and computer technological jobs; gays—newly affluent and highly educated. These are people who are probably not concerned whatsoever about paying Daley’s high tax freight. They glory in Millennium Park and regard corruption as a fee that can be paid for societal civility. Moreover they believe in the view of the historian Herodotus—“when you purify the pond, the lilies die.” Meaning: make this place too honest and you will not have a mayoralty which can get things done.

Richard II differs from his father in two respects: his disinterest in the Democratic party rather than his own Personality Cult and the media. Richard II has used good press—and by and large he has received it notwithstanding Hired Trucks and the other incidentals which are vexing but not all that essential to keeping his throne. Why he has received it? Because unlike his father he has been a social liberal which the media fondly respects. He supports abortion rights which to the media comes very near being a sacrament. He supports gay rights which to the media is today’s reincarnation of the old civil rights days they missed out on because they are so young.

Assuredly Daley will be able to compromise somewhat on taxes—but my guess is that by and large he will win and the exorbitant taxes will be levied. Chicago then will proceed to become whiter…more middle class…populated by new arrivals, wealthy retired oldsters and newly affluent youth. If Daley gets the Olympics (which somehow I think he will) he will have the contractual possibilities to make more people rich and to continue to build an army of followers. Chicago will be whiter, richer and even solider for Daley and his heirs—maybe his very own son Patrick when he returns from Iraq.

What could have gone wrong with Richard I’s Grand Strategy? Well, had he yielded to a burst of liberalism and tried to conciliate the mob he would have been sucked up by it…chewed up…rendered impotent in appearance which would have lost the business community—and he would have failed.

What can go wrong with Richard II”s Grand Strategy? The Olympic dream may fade. The more affluent whites who move here also read the “Wall Street Journal” and travel to other towns—seeing that other advantages have been gained without the wholesale corruption Daley is either powerless to control or unable to appease. But most of all…even now…they see that Chicago and Illinois’ economies lag behind national growth rates. A cyclical downturn that affects tax revenues can spur bitterness and the realization that on a cost-benefit analysis corruption is too expensive and that a return to representative democracy should be tried.

By that time Richard II may well have been retired and living in Florida. But it is my contention that his Grand Strategy II should be at least recognized as a possibility. If it succeeds Richard II may at long last…at least in my view anyhow…become as great as his father—the Roland who saved the city for us. If not he is distinctly number two.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Personal Aside: Cardinal George’s Courageous (and Brilliant) Column on De Paul….Matt Nelson is Right…Why Wouldn’t a Christian Vote for a Mormon for President?


Cardinal George.

This column has been critical, on some occasions, of Francis Cardinal George (and to a greater extent some of his lay staff). Indeed, it has taken some heat because of it (to which archdiocesan operatives say “huzza!”). But no one can deny one of his strongest, most enduring, attributes: his precise definitions of moral law as certainly the nation’s leading theological and philosophical Catholic bishop who is both extraordinarily articulate teacher and exemplar. Unlike many other prelates, George solely writes his column; you can tell: it is the work of one who is at ease with the written word.

So it is not in a spirit of recompense but in deserved recognition of the Cardinal’s ineffable talents as gifted teacher that prompts today’s praise. This talent gave candid dimension last week in his weekly essay in “Catholic New World.” It is inadequate to single out portions of it for praise since it deserves publishing in entirety--and, pro-forma, the secular media have ignored it. Here it is.

A Conference Misconceived; an Opportunity Missed.

On Oct. 19 ands 20, a conference for Catholic college faculty and administrators will be hosted at DePaul University on the topic of ministering to gay and lesbian students in Catholic colleges and universities. Called the “Out There Conference,” this program is coordinated out of Santa Clara University in California and has as its stated purpose to discuss how to be pastorally present to homosexuality oriented young people.

That is a good purpose. Young people who identify themselves as gay and lesbian have particular challenges and special needs that call for a pastoral approach that can assure them they are loved by God and give them the means of grace needed to live chastely. There are sometimes psychological problems of self-rejection and social problems of how to find their way as disciples of Jesus Christ and responsible members of society. Sometimes they experience personal prejudice because of their sexual identity and finding true friendship and opportunity to share who they are becomes difficult. All of these topics call for collective reflection and a particular sensitivity on the part of those who minister to students with same-sex inclinations.

Unfortunately, while it seems that some of the conference talks will respect and apply Catholic moral teaching, the descriptions of other talks seem to press the case that the Church should change the moral law or that people should ignore church teaching and form into groups that reject the magisterium of the Catholic Church. To the extent that this is true, the purpose of the conference moves from reflection to advocacy in the name of being “pastoral.” My concern as pastor of this Archdiocese is that some speakers at this conference intend to justify behavior that brings people’s salvation into jeopardy.

Some, in discussing what constitutes a sympathetic and encouraging pastoral outreach to people with same-sex inclinations, say that you cannot truly accept persons unless you also accept without moral judgment their sexual activity. But isn’t it odd to demand that, in the name of respect o inclusion, someone must agree with everything someone else desires to do? No one can demand that those who understand as true the moral teaching of the Church must give up their own convictions in order to respect or befriend someone who is gay or lesbian. In any other area of human experience, such an attitude would be seen as clearly unfair and self-righteous.

A pastoral outreach to homosexually oriented men and women is based on two truths: (1) every person must be respected and (2) acting out sexually with a partner of the same sex is objectively mortally sinful. This second truth doesn’t depend only on Scripture or even on official Church teaching. Non-Christian and even non-religious peoples understand that the sexual complementarity of men and women is built into the morphology of our bodies and into the very purpose of our sexual acts.

Most people understand that between and inclination and act there is a free decision, if it is a human act. Because of good habits and the power of God’s grace, people can live with even very strong inclinations and not act out. To sayh otherwise is to be a determinist and bring the basis of our common life as well as the whole economy of salvation into question. Everyone experiences some form of sinful inclination; not everyone acts out. The inclination is to be met with understanding and sympathy: the action is to be met with correct judgment and then forgiveness.

My hope in the days ahead is that the participants in this conference will come away with a deeper desire to love and respect gay and lesbian students and a clearer understanding of homosexual behavior and the moral law that governs it. Then the conference will be genuinely supportie of authentic campus ministry. In every area of human behavior, campus ministers need to search for faithful ways in which to assist young adults toward salvation ands the eternal happiness it promises. That’s the purpose of all ministry in the Church, because it’s the purpose of Jesus Christ’s self-sacrifice on the cross and his resurrection from the dead. God bless you.

Sincerely yours in Christ. Francis Cardinal George Archbishop of Chicago

Congratulations, Matt Nelson.

Matt Nelson, responding to my article on the folly of so-called campaign finance “reform,” points out that in 1968 Eugene McCarthy was funded by a number of mega-multi-millionaires who were against the Vietnam War including Stewart Mott, heir to the GM fortune. He is right that without recourse to those funds McCarthy would not have been able to mount a challenge to Lyndon Johnson…a challenge that even though Gene lost in New Hampshire…convinced LBJ to withdraw. He is absolutely right. The so-called “reform” bill that passed in 1974 ended any possibility that a moderately non-well-off candidate (as McCarthy was) could have mounted the challenge. The only way a challenge like McCarthy’s can be mounted today effectively is to have a billionaire do it—such as Ross Perot in 1992 and 1996. McCain-Feingold was a cynical attempt by John McCain to redeem himself from being one of the Keating Five by condemning the country to live under a law that abrogated its free speech traditions. And George W. Bush equaled the cynicism by signing it and hoping the Supreme Court would find the courage (to render it unconstitutional) that he lacked.

Use of the old fashioned way of contributions was applied in the “Swift Boats” TV ads of 2004 which used by those using the 527 provision of McCain-Feingold which allows those not directly connected with a federal campaign to fund communications that are not provably to be tied to a campaign. It is significant that McCain and Bush attacked use of this provision as an “escape hatch”—an invaluable provision that the Supreme Court allowed to stand in deference to the 1st amendment.

Why Wouldn’t a Christian Vote for a Mormon?

I am always bemused—and puzzled—when religious Christians, fellow Catholics and compatriot evangelicals, tell me they can’t vote for Mitt Romney because of his religion. Why in the name of God (and I ask this respectfully) with the stakes such as they are…with our resistance to terrorism and to abortion foremost—and continuation of economic prosperity secondarily…would these well-meaning people bother themselves fretting about whether Joseph Smith, Jr.’s “Book of Mormon” is comparable to scripture? Or that before 1890 some Mormons practiced polygamy? Or the differences between Mormonism and other Christian churches on the Trinity. Or whether after a Mormon dies it is thought by believers in his religion that he goes to another planet rather than to what has traditionally been termed the Hereafter?

Why if true acceptance of Jesus Christ as Savior is paramount to them…evidently for the continuation under original Christian formulae of this republic…would these folks be willing to vote for a Jew for president who believes the Messiah has not yet come? I would certainly vote for a Jew and would regard his views here as non-essential for conduct of public affairs. No, I would most certainly not vote for a Muslim because after studying his religion I do not believe it is a religion of peace. Nor would I vote for an atheist. But I would have no hesitation about voting for Mitt Romney at all. He has many signal virtues as well as talents. As it stands, I may well support him first among all the others and, if the verdict be Giuliani, be prepared to apply the Pascal Wager test to that candidacy. But not voting for one for the sole reason he is a Mormon? Incredible.

You certainly don’t have a lot of other things to worry about in this life or for this country if this is the sole reason you cannot vote for Mitt Romney, let me tell you. Let us have your views.

Flashback: On Wisconsin—and then to West Virginia…Humphrey Has No Illusions: “If I Can Just Stay Alive Until the Convention I Might Beat JFK.” But How to do it Without Much Money or a Big Daddy to Generate Funds is the Question.

Surprised and Flattered.

Following Jim Rowe’s strategy paper, after Gene McCarthy and Gov. Orville Freeman joined in a news conference urging him to run for president, Hubert pretended he was “surprised and flattered.” It was the absolute last time that any presidential candidate could get by feigning that he was being importuned by others to run—a tradition that began with the start of the convention system in the 1840s and going through Lincoln’s “surprise” at being nominated in 1860 and all the way through the Eisenhower “surprise” primary votes that “convinced” the 5-star general to run. Joseph Alsop, then the premier political columnist, wrote with tongue in cheek—certainly the best ironic prose of the time:

“With all the shy hesitation of a moose in the mating season, the presidential candidacy of Hubert Humphrey has now crashed out of the secret glades into the open glare of day.”

Rowe’s instructions were that after the initial “surprise,” Humphrey should jump into the race with both feet. Agonizingly, Humphrey resisted for a long time. Why? Teasing potential financial contributors that he might not run after all. On being honored by the NAACP in New York city the day after the importuning by McCarthy and Freeman, he was introduced by a black preacher as being “the John the Baptist” of the civil rights movement. Hubert couldn’t resist quipping: “Thanks but all of you know what happened to John the Baptist.” He was right at the time; the money started coming in to convince him to run.

Still Hubert delayed making a formal announcement. Throughout 1959 he traveled around, testing his support while Jim Rowe burned in anger. Weeks went by and Rowe threatened to quit. Hubert said: “Give me just a little more time. Lyndon has invited me to speak at the Texas Farmers’ Union convention and I have every hint that he will give me an inkling of where he stands. If he backs me, I’ll jump in immediately.” Rowe said: “He won’t back you! Don’t you understand? You’re intimidated by Lyndon because as majority leader you think he’s your boss. Well let me tell you the job you want to run for requires you to be intimidated by no one.”

“No,” said Hubert, “I’ve got to know whether I’ll be facing Johnson as well as Kennedy. I know I’ve got Kennedy with his daddy’s multi-millions. If I can certify that Johnson won’t be all that active, I’ll announce. I promise you. I’m not intimidated by Lyndon.” Well, he was, of course and Rowe was right: Hubert never got LBJ to back out. Hubert finally agreed to announce in December, 1959 no matter what Johnson told him.

There was one last chance to get LBJ to bow out. Hubert flew to Texas with Patrick O’Connor a Minneapolis lawyer and fund-raiser and were picked up by helicopter and taken to the LBJ ranch, He made a luncheon speech which was a hit and returned to the ranch for the next night. Johnson said they should stay later because he had invited a group of wealthy oil men to meet with him the following night. Obediently, Hubert stayed and LBJ gave them cowboy clothes to wear.

They went to bed that night ready to be awakened the next morning at 5 a.m. with the egomaniac Johnson waking him and O’Connor up, announcing that they were going to go on a deer-hunting expedition immediately after breakfast. When they gathered for breakfast, Johnson announced that all the food they were eating came from the ranch. “The eggs were laid here, Hubert; the honey on your hot rolls was produced here by my bees. The butter came from my cows; the bakery at the ranch produced the rolls. The ham comes from Johnson hogs.”

With Hubert’s mouth full of eggs and rolls, Johnson turned to him and said in a defiant way: “Well, Hubert, are you going to do me out of the nomination?”

Hubert almost choked on his food and he took a long time to swallow it. Then he said plaintively: “ Lyndon, you have all this—you have the majority leadership, you have the ranch, the eggs from your hens, the butter from your cows, the ham from your hogs, the honey from your bees. Why not let me have the nomination?”

Johnson roared with laughter. Then he told Hubert that while he wanted the nomination, he couldn’t spare time from the majority leader’s job to campaign. That evening one hundred leading Texas businessmen including oil men gave Hubert a standing ovation. On the plane back to Washington, Hubert decided that Johnson would be a passive candidate and that his only worry would be John Kennedy. But that was a big worry indeed.

When he formally announced on December 30, 1959 Hubert passed the word to the media as to his strategy. It was not pompous or inflated but ruthlessly honest. He knew and advertised correctly that Kennedy had millions of dollars at his disposal. He knew he would lose some primaries “but if I can just win in Wisconsin which shouldn’t be all that difficult and stay alive until the convention in July and no one else comes in, the cold-eyed boys looking around for someone as tough and energetic and as mean as Nixon, they just might try me.”

Humphrey did his own issues analysis for his campaign. No one was better at it. He had no big time media specialists. He stated the goals of the campaign clearly before the National Press Club. It is fascinating to re-read his speech and to contrast it with the speech Democrats who seek the presidency today. He said

1. As result of the Eisenhower-Nixon record of the past eight years, there has been an age of defense complacency with the Soviets gaining over us in space and military arms. There must be a militarily stronger U. S. to win the war with the Soviets and new intellectual armaments in the form of ideas to engage them in strategic competitions throughout the world. He leaned on his first-hand knowledge of Nikita Khrushchev—making a very convincing argument. No one in either party could match the time he had spent with Khrushchev. He was also the first to detect a fissure between the USSR and Red China. There is a need to keep up the country’s guard with China and yet encourage her to take an independent course from the USSR. Here I must say it is inconceivable that one can make the point of our lack of military preparedness when the president was a five-star general of the army (retired)—but as one who lived through the media hype of the time, grave doubts were cast about Eisenhower’s capacity to govern, he being viewed as a semi-retired chairman of the board.

2. He contrasted himself with John Kennedy, JFK being the rich man’s candidate. He declared flatly that there was no limit whatever on what Kennedy and his wealthy family would spend to buy the presidency: “I want to set the record straight on that right now.” He hinted not just of formal contributions but the indirect, under-the-table ones that Old Joe was capable of making.

3. In a brilliant analogy, he compared his campaign with “a corner grocer running against a chain store.” He staked out his original attack on the Ezra Taft Benson farm program as his own. Kennedy had voted for the Benson program of flexible supports while Hubert had taken Benson on.

4. He most certainly restated the domestic principles of the New Deal—but it is surprisingly restrained in view of what was yet to come. There was, of course, not the slightest mention of the possibility of affirmative action—only equal opportunity. As a matter of fact, the programs that Hubert espoused were the same that continued in the administration of Ronald Reagan, his old co-founder of Americans for Democratic Action.

The primaries listed by Jim Rowe were largely irrelevant because Hubert didn’t have enough money. In fairness, campaign expenditures were only a microcosm of what they are now because television was in its infancy and candidates usually got on live TV when they appeared in various states. Still even by the reduced standards of the time, Hubert was strapped. He did the District of Columbia primary and easily won that but the budget meant that most of the other states would have to be scrapped—but two. The first should have been easy for Hubert. That was Wisconsin, right next door to Minnesota. Hubert was well-known there; he had an ally in Bill Proxmire but a disadvantage: Wisconsin had a lot of Catholics as well.

The Kennedy people accepted the challenge. came in not just with tons of money in that era when there was sparse and scarce finance reporting…when off-budget monies were used and corporate funds recruited surreptitiously by Old Joe in Boston were applied. And the Kennedys had skilled troops—Larry O’Brien, the Mafia (“Massachusetts nicknamed pols but also the real kind), Ted Sorenson the speech-writer and the first-ever pack of TV consultants. They had an elegant, attractive, charismatic candidate who was advanced by stories that he was a war hero, a Pulitzer prize-winning author, the first Catholic candidate for president since Al Smith and the scion of a near billionaire.

To face this onslaught, Humphrey imported Minnesota DFL volunteers to Wisconsin who tried to run the campaign by phone and on weekends. At the same time, Hubert’s campaign was hobbled by internecine battles. Jim Rowe the old FDR strategist tangled with the fellow ADA liberals headed by Joe Rauh. Everybody waited for the big Humphrey-Kennedy debate. There would be none.

Kennedy wisely refused to debate Hubert. Kennedy said he wouldn’t debate because he admired Hubert and there wasn’t much difference between them. Hubert rejoined: “The hell there isn’t!” He waved a pamphlet showing their different voting records to crowds: “I hate to do this but I’m tired of hearing there’s no difference between us! I didn’t come to Wisconsin to see if I could be the most pleasing man in the world. I came here to talk about public policy, public voting records and public purpose! We’re in politics. We’re not making love!”

Hubert’s dog-tired image and shouting contrasted with Kennedy’s which was the embodiment of the cool, Ivy league-trained, movie-star handsome candidate with JFK’s similarly trained Ivy League helpers being paid to fly in and go throughout the state including his seeming endless list of sisters and nephews, all with the Back Bay accents. Not for a second did Hubert yield to suggestions to go subliminally anti-Catholic: “If you have to have campaigns based on bigotry, innuendo and smear, you can have your politics!” he said in Fond du Lac. “I don’t want any part of it!” Hubert spent $150,000 in Wisconsin—a fifth of what Kennedy spent…on the record, that is.

When the votes were counted, Kennedy won—and it was just short of humiliating for Hubert—476,024 (56.5%) to 336,753 (43.5%)—a blow coming from a neighboring state which Hubert had tried to serve as its third senator but insufficient to knock him out of the box. Hubert cited the positives—he won four out of ten congressional districts, narrowly losing a fifth. Rowe huddled with him and said: “Hubert, it’s almost all over but you have one more go-round. It’s West Virginia.”

Hubert had spent the wad in Wisconsin and was $17,000 in debt for West Virginia.’

“Let’s do West Virginia!” said Rowe. “Hubert, it’s an economically depressed state—a natural for you! And it’s an overwhelmingly Protestant state; more than that, these hillbillies hate Catholics!”

Hubert said: “Cut it out, Jim! I don’t want to win that way!”

Rowe who had a Catholic background himself said: “I know—but let us mobilize the Protestant vote the way these Kennedys do the Catholics, huh?”

“Okay,” said Hubert. “We’ll find the money some way. But the only thing I got left is my reputation. No—and I mean it—anti-Catholic rallies or I’ll tell you what I’ll do Jim, I’ll denounce the hell out of them even if I have to go after you!”

I understand, said Rowe.

His people decided privately to rise above principle and find some hillbilly white ministers to demagogue a bit, getting some financial resources to them off-budget—somehow. When they went to them, Old Joe’s people had beat him to it.

“Jim,” said one of his allies, “Goddamn, old Joe is solving the poverty problem for these ministers right out of his cash drawer!”

A few of them decided to use bigotry—which in some quarters could equal money--and if caught deny they did it. Torn, a Humphrey strategist reached out to Gene McCarthy.

He said: We might win in West Virginia if we…er-er-er.

McCarthy who hated Kennedy like poison got the drift.

“Let’s say,” he intoned, “I’d grant you absolution. You’re not going to direct them to do it.”

Then he ticked off the qualifications to mortal sin—grievous matter, sufficient reflection, full consent of the will.

“If they want to do it without your sanction, is it a grievous matter? Not particularly. Unenlightened, yes. Is there about this act a sufficient reflection? I would guess not. Full consent of the will? Of course not; you have Hubert’s order that it not be done and you will have stated that sufficiently. Views communicated by word of mouth if done in a balanced way—no. Not by a long shot..”

The staffer felt relieved at that. Hearing it from Gene was like hearing it from a priest. (At St. John’s, Fr. Godfrey Diekmann OSB went AWOL from Hubert here: rather mesmerized by Kennedy and the prospect of a Catholic president, even though he wasn’t Gene—to Gene’s utter discomfiture).

Then came the pressure from the Kennedy people to get Hubert to withdraw. California Governor Pat Brown (a Catholic) called Minnesota Governor Orville Freeman remonstrating that Hubert should step down; he can’t win. “Don’t let him go to West Virginia.” Freeman hung up and said to an aide “another one in the bag to the Old Man.”

Walter Reuther of the United Automobile Workers (UAW), a big Humphrey backer got hold of McCarthy.

“I would really urge Hubert if I were you to reconsider, drop out and support Kennedy,” he said.

“The Old Man got to you, too?” said Gene in exasperation.

Labor leader Reuther who had been beaten and shot (one arm permanently maimed) by scabs hired by old Henry Ford and was not a man to take that lying down, interjected: “Gene, I really resent that.”

Gene didn’t back down either.

“Well, you’re of little faith,” said Gene. “Not a chance. We’ll remember that once we get in, Walter. I have been told I have a knack for things like that even if Hubert doesn’t.”

Fully aware of McCarthy’s dark Irish penchant for recalling even minor offenses for many years and what it could mean for the labor movement, Reuther butted out.

Robert Kennedy, JFK’s campaign manager, gave private briefings to the Big Foot press—Reston, Rowland Evans, the Alsops, Teddy White, even George Tagge of the “Tribune.” He said: What more do you want to see? We beat him in Wisconsin, a state my brother hardly visited before the campaign while Humphrey’s been camping there incessantly. We beat him fair and square. Now Humphrey is going to West Virginia? For what? To be the beneficiary of an anti-Catholic campaign? Not that he would churn it up but it’s bound to redound in his favor. Does he want this? He is running the risk of being a spoiler. He can’t be nominated or elected and his only purpose will be to deadlock the convention so the winner is Stevenson whom we’ve had twice before or Symington (boring) or Johnson (a one-time segregationist).

When Hubert heard of the briefings he called a news conference:

“Jack will have plenty of chances to speak for himself without handouts coming from his brother Bobby. Politics is a serious business, not a boy’s game where you can pick up your ball and run home if things don’t go according to your idea of who will win.”

Yes, said the media to Hubert, but what money do you have to mount a campaign in West Virginia?

“My cupboard is bare,” said Hubert.

He liked referring to himself in the third person.

“My treasury is in the red and the only thing running good will be Hubert Humphrey himself. We are operating on Humphrey’s energy and Humphrey’s ability to campaign—and not on other people’s money!”

To protect himself from alleged bigotry, Hubert sent a number of Catholics from Minnesota including Gene—well-known there but nowhere else--to start the campaign. One was red-haired Joe Dillon, the mayor of St. Paul. Dillon went calling on a West Virginia weekly newspaper editor and said he was working for Humphrey.

“Don’t worry,” said the editor, pointing first at his shoes and then at his head, “From the bottom of my soles to the top of my head I’m a Protestant. Do you think I’d vote for that goddamned Catholic Kennedy?”

Phoning from Wheeling, McCarthy got wealthy Stevenson contributors to help Humphrey under the theory that it would be in their interest to block Kennedy. But as Teddy White reported later, Connecticut Governor Abe Ribicoff, acting on Kennedy’s instructions, told them if they helped Hubert in West Virginia and Kennedy won Adlai would not be considered for secretary of state (he wasn’t anyhow). All the while Connecticut chairman John Bailey threatened retaliation against a financial booster of Hubert’s, William Benton.

Gene McCarthy had an idea to filter cash unobserved. He phoned from Charleston to Lyndon Johnson, convinced him that LBJ’s interest lie in stopping Kennedy so the convention might possibly choose Johnson in a deadlock. Gene got him to send some of his prime Texas operatives to West Virginia with a bucket of money to feed it through a willing Bobby Byrd and from him to Humphrey indirectly.

Later he would tell me: “It’s really a disadvantage when our side is weighted down with scruples.

Well, Gene wasn’t.