Sunday, October 21, 2012

Senator George S. McGovern

Sad but not unexpected news about the passing of George McGovern today. Among many other notable accomplishments (McGovern was a longtime activist on the issue of world hunger, and in 2001 the United Nations made him its first global ambassador to ease hunger) he was the Democratic nominee for President in 1972.

We all know how that went down, but McGovern was a class act to the end. I think Hunter S. Thompson's words best described what an opportunity this country missed by not electing him president, written in advance of the election in September of 1972:
If the current polls are reliable... Nixon will be re-elected by a huge majority of Americans who feel he is not only more honest and more trustworthy than George McGovern, but also more likely to end the war in Vietnam. The polls also indicate that Nixon will get a comfortable majority of the Youth Vote. And that he might carry all fifty states...

This may be the year when we finally come face to face with ourselves; finally just lay back and say it — that we are really just a nation of 220 million used car salesmen with all the money we need to buy guns, and no qualms at all about killing anybody else in the world who tries to make us uncomfortable.

The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes... understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon. McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose... Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?
- From "Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail '72"


oldswede said...

In the early 1980s, George McGovern bought and operated a hotel in Stratford, Connecticut, called the Stratford Inn (do not confuse it with Bob Newhart’s).
Interestingly, it was directly across the street from the main gate of Sikorsky Aircraft. Sikorsky is a major military contractor and we here in Stratford are treated to frequent overflights of helicopters being tested.
Anyway, Senator McGovern was often at his hotel and he initiated a series of public forums on issues of the day. One that I was able to attend featured Sergei Sikorsky, son of the inventor of the helicopter, Igor Sikorsky. He spoke at length about civilian, peacetime uses of helicopters and the company’s role in a peacetime economy.
George McGovern truly liked being able to contribute to the life of the community. I had the opportunity to meet him several times and found him to be genuinely genial and outgoing.

oldswede said...

Correction and addition:
It was really the end of the eighties that this happened as I discovered when I found this item in the New York Times archive - George McGovern Elects Innkeeper. Memory gets fuzzy sometimes.
I was working for the theater that summer and attended this party, as Senator McGovern invited all the theater staff as well as the cast to the Inn.
This was the first time I met him.

CT Bob said...

Thanks for those recollections Oldswede. I have a vague memory of George being involved in something like that. And yeah, I've heard those helicopters flying over Milford on a regular basis.

lakezoparian said...

My vote for George was the first one I ever cast. I knew he wasn't going to win, and I was VERY proud to do it anyway.

And this time my vote will go to the one my conscience can live with. That DEFINITELY WON'T be Mittrack Obameny!!!