Monday, October 22, 2012

George S. McGovern, R.I.P.

War is a tremendous crucible of leadership.

Something like five US President's served in the ranks during World War II,  some of them even with distinction.
That was George McGovern's war, he was a bomber pilot who flew thirty five missions over the heavily defended Ploesti oil fields in Romania, he got the Distinguished Flying Cross for his troubles and had the prairie thrift to return his aircraft more or less intact.
From that war McGovern extracted a lot of life lessons, in the fragility of human affairs, a fateful sense of consequence and sure knowledge of what constituted a meaningless war having fought a must-win conflict to the finish.
All that and the poor bastard never learned how to win a national election against Richard Milhous Nixon.
Ah but McGovern was incorruptible, he came out against the Viet Nam War when it was still risky, he ran for President when he was polling below Sam Yorty, he never said anything he didn't mean or could ever regret...And sadly in America those are the guys who get beaten every time.
Y'know I voted for McGovern, yes indeedy, in the Massachusetts Primary in 1984, the Former Senator was by then running as a deficit hawk and something of an infrastructure populist.  It was an odd mix but McGovern made it work.  I recall with some nostalgia a campaign rally at the Palace Theater in Manchester NH headlined by Arlo Guthrie.
The candidate looked like he was having the time of his life...
I took it into my head that since 1984 wasn't going to be a good year for democrats, why not nominate
McGovern at the very least he will engage then President Reagan on the level of pure ideology and the American People will have a full debate on the issues with no apologies.
Well of course, the electorate would have none of my idea...If McGovern had a problem in politics it wasn't his hard core liberalism, he was that on so many issues he was right from the start...and those are  the statesmen that accrue only honor, not necessarily power.