Sunday, October 21, 2012

Remembering McGovern

 Scott Sumner says:
In 1972 one of the most decent men to ever run for president of the US ran against one of the least decent.  The fact that I had a rather low opinion of McGovern at the time tells you much more about my flaws than his.
George McGovern,  the man who bore perhaps the most calamitous defeat in American Presidential-electoral history, died yesterday at 90.  I can relate to Sumner's appraisal, although I don't entirely agree.  I actually voted for McGovern in 1972 without any real expectation he would win but with an animated sense of the awfulness of the alternative.  I heartily endorse Scott's point about McGovern's decency; McGovern ways also entirely likeable, the kind of guy you'd be honored to have a beer with, if he drank beer.  But I always felt he lacked the killer instinct: the toughness, the wiliness, the trace of meanness you need to be a successful President.  I felt the same thing about Mondale and (to a lesser extent) Stevenson.    Aside from that--well, there's Kennedy and Johnson and I guess Clinton but still it is remarkable how often the Democrats miss out on tough and wily in the Presidential sweeps (they seem to do better at city hall).

Republicans like to natter on about how we nee a President like Jack Black or Chuck Norris, maybe Charlton Heston.  I'll see 'em and raise 'em one with Edward Melvin Deline--Deline of NBC's Las Vegas: loving husband, devoted father, CIA hit man and shrewd business operative who bears an unsettling resemblance to Sonny Corleone.   It's Deline who presides so successfully over the bacchanale of money and vain desire, supporting himself and his corporate overlords by skimming the sustenance out of the greedy and guileless multitude.  Just what the qualities needed to be the leader of the free world.  

I won't say McGovern wasn't tough enough: it would take a lot of gall to appraise a guy who flew 35 bomber missions over German-occupied Europe and say he "wasn't tough."  Sadly, though, he probably wasn't mean and I'm not at all sure about the guile.  So I'll have to leave the Presidency to guys like Deline, and count myself lucky to share a beer with guys like McGovern.

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