by idiosynchronic | 5/24/2008 10:42:00 AM
On Thursday, Sen Clinton's campaign was spreading a false-leak driven story to put Clinton in the number two spot. How Obama felt about that was unimportant. The exit was nigh, but the Senator from New York wanted to stay in somehow, someway. The campaign lashed themselves to the wheel and set the throttles for full, crying, "I intend to get a lot closer – I'm going to ram her right down that thing's throat!"

It's another way of joining 'em if you can't beat 'em, I guess.

It's always tempting to overlay your current reading material on current events. As distorted as the current campaign is, reading Hunter Thompson is like squirting gasoline on the fire. But here I am, and what's come to me.


Pg 260-1, Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72:
But first, a few realities: (1) George McGovern is so close to a first-ballot nomination in Miami that everybody except Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy, Shirley Chisholm, and Ed Muskie seems ready to accept it as a foregone conclusion . . . (2) The national Democratic Party is no longer controlled by the Old Guard, Boss-style hacks like George Meany and Mayor Daley —or even by the Old Guard liberal-manque types like Larry O'Brien, who thought they had things firmly under control as recently as six months ago ... (3) McGovern has made it pain­fully clear that he wants more than just the nomination; he has every intention of tearing the
Democratic Party completely apart and re-building it according to his own blueprint ... (4) If McGovern beats Nixon in November he will be in a position to do anything he wants either to or with the party structure . . . (5) But if McGovern loses in November, control of the Demo­cratic Party will instantly revert to the Ole Boys, and McGovern himself will be labeled "another Goldwater" and stripped of any power in the party.

The pattern is already there, from 1964, when the Nixon/ Mitchell brain-trust—already laying plans for 1968—sat back and let the GOP machinery fall into the hands of the Birchers and the right-wing crazies for a few months . . . and when Gold-water got stomped, the Nixon/Mitchell crowd moved in and took over the party with no argument from anybody . . . and four years later Nixon moved into the White House.

There have already been a few rumblings and muted threats along these lines from the Daley/Meany faction. Daley has privately threatened to dump Illinois to Nixon in November if McGovern persists in challenging Daley's eighty-five-man slave delegation to the convention in Miami . . . and Meany is prone to muttering out loud from time to time that maybe Organized Labor would be better off in the long run by enduring another four yea under Nixon, rather than running the risk of whatever radical madness he fears McGovern might bring down on him.

The only other person who has said anything about taking a dive for Nixon in November is Hubert Humphrey, who has al­ready threatened in public—at the party's Credentials Committee hearings in Washington last week—to let his friend Joe Alioto, the Mayor of San Francisco, throw the whole state of California to Nixon unless the party gives Hubert 151 California delegates— on the basis of his losing show of strength in that state's winner-take-all primary.

Hubert understood all along that California was all or nothing. He continually referred to it as "The Big One," and "The Super Bowl of the Primaries" ... but he changed his mind when he lost. One of the finest flashes of TV journalism in many months appeared on the CBS evening news the same day Humphrey formally filed his claim to almost half the California delegation. It was a Walter Cronkite interview with Hubert in California, a week or so prior to election day. Cronkite asked him if he had any ob­jections to the winner-take-all aspect of the California primary, and Humphrey replied that he thought it was absolutely wonderful.

"So even if you lose out here—if you lose all 271 delegates— you wouldn't challenge the winner-take-all rule?" Cronkite asked.
"Oh, my goodness, no," Hubert said. "That would make me sort of a spoilsport, wouldn't it?"


History doesn't repeat itself per se, but the ways our systems & principalities of power react to subversion or replacement have a somewhat familiar ring.

Friday, Clinton keeps up the pressure and uses historical comparison to rationalize her continued campaign, citing Bill Clinton's run in 1992 and then the horrific campaign in '68. That summer when it all went to hell and back.

1968 is a big deal to Americans Of A Certain Age. For damn good reason. Playing with its' memory is like blithely cutting the green wire because that's what they do in all the movies.

It's clear that the Senator intended to mean that the convention is 3 months away, and a lot could happen in 3 months in politics. In three months something could happen to make Sen. Clinton the better or the only candidate.

Hell, the man could get shot or something.

Oops.

In January, I and a few others watched Obama's victory speech in Des Moines after the Caucuses with trepidation. We knew history was being made, irregardless of Obama's victory in November. Such things attract the worst in some people. Some people want to vote with their guns. In the middle of that convention hall, with what appeared to be little security, the man looked like he was 40 feet tall and vulnerable as hell even while that crowd made him the strongest man on earth.

We all court danger with this man making these comparisons to a Kennedy or even to King or Malcolm. For one thing, reality rarely lives up to our dreamy expectations.

But our dreams also contain our nightmares.

Pg 46:
I have never read anything that comes anywhere close to explaining the shock and and intensity I felt at that convention . . . and although I was right in the middle of it the whole time, I have never been able to write about it myself. For two weeks afterwards, back in Colorado, I couldn't even talk about it without starting to cry -- for reasons I think I finally understand now, but I still can't explain.

Because of this: because I went there as a journalist, with no real emotional attachment to any of the candidates, and only the barest illusions about the outcome . . . I was not personally involved in the thing, so there is no point in presuming to understand what kind of hellish effect Chicago must have had on Gene McCarthy.

I remember seeing him cross Michigan Avenue on Thursday night -- several hours after Humphrey had made his acceptance speech out at the stockyards -- and then wandering into the crowd in Grant Park like a defeated general trying to mingle with his troops just after the Surrender. But McCarthy couldn't mingle. He could barely talk. He acted like a man in deep shock. There was not much to say. the campaign was over.

McCarthy's gig was finished. He had knocked off the President and then strung himself out on a fantastic six-month campaign that had seen the murder of Martin Luther King, the murder of Bobby Kennedy, and finally a bloody assault on his own campaign workers by Mayor Daley's police, who burst into McCarthy's private convention headquarters at the Chicago Hilton and began breaking heads. At dawn on Friday morning, his campaign manager, a seasoned old pro named Blair Clark, was still pacing up and down Michigan Avenue in front of the Hilton in a state so close to hysteria that his friends were afraid to talk to him because every time he tried to say something his eyes would fill with tears and he would have to start pacing again.


I think - solely on my own I might add - that the Convention that year not only culminated a number of things political, but also emotional. It wasn't just the convention that was a boot to the gut, but that the hits just kept coming. Over and over again, leaders killed, movements arrested, power stolen. Some of us can take a beating, but very few of us can keep getting beat without it just finally coming to the breaking point.

To evoke Bobby Kennedy's death pulls every single other bloody trauma out of the sack. Martin's bloody shirt waves in the breeze.

Boom.

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1 Comments:


Anonymous Richard Schrader on 5/26/2008 1:17 PM:

We should accept Sen. Clinton's explanation of her Kennedy comment (as Obama and Axelrod have) and move on.

Like 1968, we are in an historically unique moment, for different reasons, but with substantial political and cultural opportunities in play. In 1968, the Kennedy/McCarthy insurgencies so loathed Lyndon Johnson that Humphrey seemed politically unpalatable.

Nixon's success was hardly inevitable -- George Wallace was tearing right-wing blue collar votes from the Republicans in key states, exposing RN's centrist flank in the Midwest and even his home court, California. HHH made a striking comeback in the last six weeks of the campaign (as Nixon had in 1960 against Kennedy) and the race tightened. Too many liberal Dems sat the race out, while the proto-Reagan Dems, pre-Reagan, split their vote for Nixon/Wallace.

A similar defection will take place in November -- culturally conservative Reagan Dems will vote in substantial numbers for McCain in key swing states, particularly in the Midwest. Obama can likely sustain those losses. He can't survive even a slight loss of Clinton Dems.