Thursday, September 18, 2003

2004: 1972 or 1968?

Enough already. The “Dean is McGovern” meme just won’t die, which is really code for “he’s too liberal and he’ll lose everywhere just like McGovern did in ’72.”



I think these analogies are off by a few years.



At the 1968 Democratic Convention, party bosses controlled the nomination process, resulting in Humphrey’s nomination. This infuriated the grassroots of the party and left many feeling alienated from the process. To appease the party’s base in the wake of their loss to Nixon, the party drafted a group to oversee a reform effort, headed by Senator George McGovern (himself a presence in ’68, and a hero of the left for his opposition to the war in VietNam).



McGovern enacted several reforms, resulting in the far more democratic nomination process we have today. But in so doing, he pissed off many of the people whose help would be instrumental in a Democratic victory over the incumbent Nixon. Result? Jimmy Carter leading the “Anybody but McGovern” contingent of southern governors. LBJ refusing to endorse him. Mayor Daley, still smarting over their remarkable showdown at the ’68 convention (Daley was caught on camera, middle finger extended, yelling “Fuck you!” repeatedly at McGovern), didn’t lift a finger to mobilize the fabled Chicago machine. A Vice Presidential candidate who’d been treated with shock therapy for depression (bad enough, but made worse by the fact that McGovern didn’t know until the press broke the story, resulting in McGovern eventually dropping him from the ticket). The list goes on: McGovern ran a terrible campaign.



So while many want to make the comparison between Dean and McGovern, I think the more interesting lesson is this: what precipitated McGovern in ’72 wasn’t McGovern himself, it was the party leadership who insisted on controlling the process in ’68.



For those who insist on looking back 30 years for an indication of what might happen in this election, go check out these comments at This Is Not Funny or Adam Nagourney’s article in today’s NY Times and tell me if you think Dean is today’s McGovern or if Clark is today’s Humphrey.

9 comments:

  1. Terry from Killingly, CTSeptember 18, 2003 at 5:00 AM

    Howard Dean is today's Harry Truman, who faced political rebellion from the racist Dixiecrats and attacks from the wealthy and snobby Republicans, and like Harry, Howard will pull off the greatest upset in American political history and he'll do it twice: 1) winning the Democratic nomination and 2) winning the general election.

    Howard Dean is no McGovern. He is his own person, but his campaign sems to be a hybrid of populist ideals from Andrew Jackson's, Huey Long's (Louisiana governor), and Jimmy Carter's campaigns with a dash of that shrewd investment banker logic behind it.

    Clark is a shadow of Bill Clinton without the political talent or experience, and since his official announcement came across as a dud, I don't hold high expectations for him any longer.

    Howard Dean's formal announcement speech, The Great American Restoration, was an inspirational speech in which the goals of the Dean campaign were pulled together in one speech and those goals are designed to empower us with the hope that we can change this country. Dean's rallies are like political revivals waking up the democratic spirit of this great nation through us.

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  2. Howard Dean is a podeum pounding liberal whose best strength is in how much he hates George Bush and how successful he is at class warfare. He pumps Liberals up on issues of 'Hating the Rich, hating Republicans, Hate Bush, Hating Powel, Hating Candoleeza Rice, Hating Rush Limbaugh, hating the Patriot Act, hating the war on terrorism, hating military spending, hating military force, hating the war in Iraq, hating Iraqi Freedom'

    And only 1 pt for liking anything goes to 'Social Programs.' If hatred wins democratic's hearts then so be it.

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  3. Podium-pounding liberal? Sure. I missed that convention when the lefties in the democratic party made balanced budgets the main plank in their platform.

    Nope. Dean has energized the left of the party - no doubt. But a bleeding heart liberal? Not by a longshot. Look at his stance on the issues, and you'll find an individual who is not shaped by ideology so much as pragmatism. How many "liberals" are in favor of states rights over federal mandates (i.e., education, gun control), believe a balanced budget is the key to effective social policy, and believe in an activist foreign policy?

    As for class warfare, I find that hard to swallow too. Conservatives can't have it both ways: either Dean's crowd is upper class and all white (in which case the class warfare line doesn't fly) or they're not.

    See my post from Labor Day. This campaign isn't about hatred. It's about believing that we're not where we belong, and believing that a committed group of citizens can change that. If that's not optimism, what is?

    http://www.rklau.com/dean2004//002357.html

    --Rick

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  4. I can't tell you whether your analysis is correct or not. I can tell you this: I voted for George McGovern and every Democrat after him, including Gore. I will be voting Bush the next election. I have not seen the Democrats this far out of touch with reality in a long time. After 9/11, I want leadership and I want someone in office who understands that appeasing the terrorists will only bring more attacks. I want someone in office who thinks like an American, not a member of the "world community". It's not a terribly reasoned statement of why I'm not voting Democratic any more, I know. I do know that I'm not the only one thinking this way.

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  5. I can't tell you whether your analysis is correct or not. I can tell you this: I voted for George McGovern and every Democrat after him, including Gore. I will be voting Bush the next election. I have not seen the Democrats this far out of touch with reality in a long time. After 9/11, I want leadership and I want someone in office who understands that appeasing the terrorists will only bring more attacks. I want someone in office who thinks like an American, not a member of the "world community". It's not a terribly reasoned statement of why I'm not voting Democratic any more, I know. I do know that I'm not the only one thinking this way.

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  6. Teri, I couldn't possibly disagree with you more. The attitude that you say is your reason for voting for Bush is precisely WHY we're having so many problems now. We have no choice but to start thinking and acting like a member of the global com munity. Only through proactive global efforts to reduce the incentive for terrorism (in addition to backing that up with increased security efforts) will we ever end the scourge of terror throughout the world. This go-it-alone, with-us-or-against-us attitude that Bush has is precisely why we are so hated throughout the world.

    Dean has never once suggested appeasement, and neither am I. What I am suggesting is actually working to improve the world as a whole for once instead of just forwarding our materialistic selfish agenda. There is no room for greedy and selfish people in a world where billions are starving for food, freedom, or anything else.

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  7. Terri-

    The Democrats aren't talking about appeasment. Every candidate supports the war against terrorism wholeheartedly. However, the war in Iraq had nothing to do with terrorism.

    The reason why we need to be part of the world community is to use other governments to stop terrorism. Most terrorists are overseas. The most effective method to reduce terrorism is to convince other world leaders to crack down on local extremists. It's impossible to attack every terrorist. However, we can stop them through diplomacy as well as militaristically.

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  8. Teri,

    Who's talking about appeasement? This is a strawman argument. Every single Democrat running has articulated support for homeland security and defense against terrorism.

    Before we invaded Iraq, there was not a strong link between Iraq and terrorism. The fact that Al Qaeda and other jihadists are now in Iraq is due to the fact that we invaded it.

    The Bush administration launched the war on Iraq not because of terrorist links, not because of WMDs, not because Saddam was a brutal dictator, but because the PNAC had laid this out as a primary strategy for pursuing American domination for the next 100 years. Bush and Rumsfeld used 9/11 to pursue their neo-con agenda. Sound like conspiracy theorist fiction? Do the research yourself and see what you think.

    Dean in particular has said, "Now that we're there, we cannot cut and run." How is this appeasement? Dean emphasizes that part of the security picture is restoring America's image as a true leader in the world community, not the renegade bully it has become.

    If people around the world respect us and see us as a country to be emulated, we will have a much easier time uncovering and defeating terrorists. The more we pursue America-first policies like the Bush administration's, the better the terrorists like it. Talk about giving aid and comfort. George Bush and Donald Rumsfeld have been the biggest boon to Al Qaeda recruitment ever.

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  9. Considering how Dean is exposed on the war and taxes, I think a more apt comparison is Walter Mondale, though I'm sure Dean will at least pull 45% of the popular vote.

    Dean has a lot of political talent, and a somewhat polarizing but appealing personality, but his positioning is not very good.

    I think Teri, if her post is real, reflects a common attitude toward politics that needs to be understood by intellectuals and many liberals (I'm liberal.) The vast majority of voters comprehend candidates in snapshot concepts - hence the importance of positions and preexisting ideas about candidates that can be hung on them. Choose your candidate accordingly.......

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