Sunday, December 11, 2005

Sen. Eugene McCarthy

Power Line: "Former Senator Eugene McCarthy has died at age 89. ... In 1968, McCarthy ran as an anti-Vietnam War candidate in a series of Democratic primaries. ... McCarthy's most ardent supporters were college students. Most of my anti-war friends preferred him to [Robert] Kennedy, as I did (and still do). First, McCarthy had shown more guts than Kennedy by challenging [President Lyndon] Johnson before it was clear how weak the president's position was. Second, McCarthy came across as cool; Kennedy as anything but. ... In many respects, some of them superficial, Robert Kennedy's position in 1967 can be compared to Hillary Clinton's position today. It's more difficult to identify the new Gene McCarthy (it's certainly not Howard Dean). He was one of a kind."

Bull Moose: "These days, our politics are infected by innumerable humorless, cowardly, predictable, witless and mindlessly partisan politicians. McCarthy had his faults, but those were not them. He was a wit, independent and had the capacity to surprise."

The Lonely Centrist: "In recent years, he was critical of government excesses in the war on terror, without joining the over-the-top Michael Moore crowd. And McCarthy was too much of a gentleman to be sucked into the nasty rhetoric of such people. He always assumed the best motives in his opponents, and treated opposing arguments fairly and with respect."

Deep Thought: "Eugene McCarthy ran for president. He didn't win. He didn't even get nominated. In fact, he got beat in the New Hampshire primary in 1968. Yet it was his effort in losing, that truly shook the nation. ... McCarthy ran for president four more times after 1968, but he never again recaptured the lighting that he held for a few brief days in that year, when he inspired and sparked a movement that quickly grew beyond any one person. He didn't need to inspire it anymore. He came along as the right man, with the right message, at the right moment in history."

The Grumpy Forester: "McCarthy gave voice to a generation that couldn't otherwise break through the party machine noise that had come to control Democratic politics prior to 1968, and his anti-war message buried a seed in the hearts of people of my era whose germination explains a lot of the grey-haired, balding objection to the current Grand Iraqi Adventure that bears, for those of us of a certain age, a remarkable resemblence to the Vietnam of our vital, robust healthy-kneed youth. ... The passing, on the same day, of both [Richard] Pryor and McCarthy is a bit of a jolt for some of us folks. ... These were people that we grew up with and who -- in one way or another -- contributed to the 'me' that we ended up being."

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