Top Leaderboard, Site wide
August 21, 2014
Truthdig: Drilling Beneath the Headlines
Help us grow by sharing
and liking Truthdig:
Sign up for Truthdig's Email NewsletterLike Truthdig on FacebookFollow Truthdig on TwitterSubscribe to Truthdig's RSS Feed

Newsletter

sign up to get updates






American Catch


Truthdig Bazaar

Dark Hope

By David Shulman
$14.69

more items

 
Report

Tribute: Sen. George McGovern on the Presidency From Lincoln to Obama

Email this item Email    Print this item Print    Share this item... Share

Posted on Nov 6, 2009
Collage of photos taken by Alexander Gardner / Truthdig / Pete Souza

(Page 3)

PART 3: Lincoln’s Strength Lay in Reading and Writing

McGovern: Let me give you a few words about Abraham Lincoln. There are more words and pages written about Abraham Lincoln than anybody else in world history, with the exception of Jesus Christ. My authority for that is this word master at The New York Times who died recently—I can’t think of his name [editor’s note: William Safire].  Anyway, more books in this country have [been] written about Abraham Lincoln than all the other presidents combined. So why another one? I did it partly to educate myself about Lincoln. I read all of his speeches, I read most of his letters, I read a number of the secondary books about him, and I did come to a deeply increased appreciation for this remarkable man. This is a part of a series. Henry Holt is the publisher; they’ve now been taken over by Macmillan—but they’re doing a book like this on each of the presidents, beginning with George Washington, and they’re supposed to be about 165 pages. And I’m glad they put that limit on it; I had to cross out an awful lot of brilliant stuff, but—I did it tearfully—and I think in holding it to 165 pages, each one of us probably did better than if we had had unlimited pages. You’ve heard the old saying, “Sorry, I don’t have time to write a short letter.” And it’s the same, I think, with books. A lot of these 900-page books, in my opinion, would be better if they were tightened up a bit—maybe to four or five hundred pages. Every writer thinks that every word is precious, but some of them aren’t all that precious; they can be tightened up.

I admire Lincoln, first of all, because of the kind of man he was. There was an old Roman orator by the name of Quintilian, an orator, and he was asked one time: “What makes a great orator?” And he said: “A good orator is a good man speaking well.” Today we’d say “a good person speaking.” To be a great speaker you should first of all be a good person—you agree with that, Bob? It’s probably the same with journalists. And I came to the conclusion Lincoln was even better than I had thought. He overcame incredible handicaps. One was the lack of education. About one and a half years—there were a few teachers, sort of traveling teachers that came through his little village, and they might stay around for a month or two and teach a few of the kids, but historians tell us that he had less than two years’ formal education. No high school, no junior high, no college, no law school, nothing, nothing like that. But he did learn two things in that little school. He learned how to read, and he learned how to write, and he never quit. Reading, reading, reading, reading, all of his life. He was hungry for every book he could get his hands on. He knew Shakespeare, he knew the King James Version of the Bible, he knew some of the great poets, he knew Aesop’s Fables, and hundreds of other things that he read. And writing—he loved to write. I think he became the best writer ever to serve in the White House. How are you going to improve on the Gettysburg Address? Talk about tightening things up—a definition of democracy: government of the people, by the people, for the people. That’s all you need to know about what democracy is all about. It took two and a half minutes to deliver that speech, but contrary to what you may have heard about him writing it on the back of an envelope on the way to the address, he worked on that speech for days, as he did every speech, those first and second inaugurals. Sometimes after he got a draft down to his satisfaction, he would call in members of the Cabinet, most frequently Secretary Seward, the secretary of state, and he would read his speech to the secretary or whoever was listening—“what do you think of this, what do you think of that”—Seward at one point said I think this particular phrase is a little dull, it’s a little flat. Why don’t you change that to “the better angels of our nature”—in that inaugural address. I’ve always wished I’d thought of that phrase, appealing to the better angels of people’s nature. But he didn’t have ghostwriters. He wrote his own speeches, and then he would let somebody else make a few suggestions. Then, after he incorporated the changes, he would read the speech—no, he would have the critic read the speech to him to see how it sounded. There’s a wonderful book just out called “Lincoln’s Sword.” And Lincoln’s sword, according to that author, was his writing ability and his speaking ability. If you want a really interesting book on Lincoln, [“Lincoln’s Sword” will] tell you how he produced those great masterpieces. 

PART 4: A McGovern Family Tragedy; Lincoln’s Greatest Accomplishment

Advertisement

Square, Site wide
McGovern: He had what today we would call clinical depression, really severe clinical depression. He would sink into these spells of despondency that almost paralyzed him. It’s a terrible malady for anyone to have. I know a little about it because we have it in my family. My daughter Terry saw the first despondency settle in on her when she was a freshman at the University of South Dakota. She was a good student, she was a very intelligent young woman, had a great sense of humor—till the day she died, she had a great sense of humor—but she was depressed. And she finally told [my wife] Eleanor and me one night that she just couldn’t stand it, she thought she should end her life. So we took her to a psychiatrist, and they worked with her for a long time, several years; didn’t do much good. So she finally found a cure: a bottle of vodka. If you got hold of a jug of vodka and drank a glass or two, you could have a whale of a good time. You weren’t depressed; you could go to a party and make everybody laugh. And that eventually led to alcoholism. We had her in and out of all the treatment centers we could think of. And one night Eleanor and I were expecting her home for Christmas. By then she had two little girls, ages 7 and 9, and we had thought she was getting better—but always the relapse. That’s the biggest problem for an alcoholic, are these miserable relapses. And she was supposed to be home about three or four days before Christmas with her two little girls. I had sent them airline tickets; they lived in Madison, Wis., where Terry went to school. So Eleanor and I went out to dinner at a little restaurant on Connecticut Avenue. It was a fun evening; the restaurant owner played the piano and the accordion, and what passed for singing, so we had a pretty happy time. When we got home, Eleanor went upstairs and went to bed and was reading a novel; I was down in the living room reading a magazine, and the doorbell rang about midnight. I thought: “Gosh, who would be coming here at midnight?” We lived in a kind of a secluded part of Washington, along Rock Creek Park, and I thought: “Well, maybe Terry has moved it up a couple of [days].” So I went to the front door, but as I got there I could see through the glass, on either side of that big door, a police officer on one side and a chaplain on the other, and when I let them in, the officer said: “Senator, we’re awfully sorry to come to your house at Christmastime with such sad news, but we must tell you that your daughter, Teresa Jane McGovern, was found dead today.” That was it. He said that she was frozen to death in a Wisconsin snowstorm, apparently while deeply intoxicated. So that was a bitter lesson for me about both depression—which should not be fooled around with, it’s a treacherous thing—and alcoholism. I don’t take any money from any of the books that I sell. They all go to the Teresa McGovern Treatment Center in Madison, Wis. None of these treatment centers are too great, but this is one of the better ones. So I just want you to know that I’m not here to make money today, and every dollar that I get out of these books—I’ve written 14 books now, and this one promises to be a bestseller. But I want you to know the revenue goes to this treatment center.

Just a couple of quick additional things about Lincoln—I’ve probably gone too long, haven’t I?—he thought his greatest achievement was the Emancipation Proclamation. I would very respectfully disagree. That was important, but it was only a partial emancipation. It just emancipated the slaves in the 11 Southern states. And with the war in progress, there wasn’t much Lincoln could do to enforce the emancipation. It didn’t touch the slaves in the border states, and it didn’t provide for a permanent right of people to be free of slavery. That came after Lincoln was re-elected, and it’s in the 13th Amendment to the Constitution, which not only freed all people who were slaves then, but freed people for all time. Nobody can be held a slave in the United States; that’s a federal crime. I think his greatest achievement was not that; it was the saving of the Union. The United States could very easily have disappeared as the United States of America. The New England states had threatened at an earlier time to secede over the tariff question, and then 20 years later comes the Southern secession. But Lincoln was determined to save the Union. He was very open on this; he tried to deal with the South so they wouldn’t secede. He said: “If I could save the Union by freeing all of the slaves, that I would do. If I could save the Union (and this was a sop to the Southerners) by freeing none of the slaves, that I would do. If I could save the Union by freeing some of the slaves and holding others (which is what he eventually did) that’s what I would do. But the Union must be preserved.” And that’s why he absolutely refused to compromise on slavery in the territories or on new states coming into the Union. Not one inch of soil would be settled with slaves in it, except for the 11 in the South. And that’s where he drew the line. So anyway, that to me is his greatest achievement: He saved the Union.

PART 5: The Founding Fathers’ Greatness; a Straight Shooter Named Goldwater

Scheer: Let me ask you a question. The old guys look good, yourself included. But seriously, I read Jefferson and Washington, and in my book I go on and on about how great Washington’s farewell address was. It’s a fabulous document, for people who haven’t read it. First of all, am I exaggerating how good these guys were? You know, at least they had brains; they thought. Now we do have a president who has a brain, so that’s been a good change. But I just wonder, what are we to make of the Founders, what are we to make of this great history? It did involve slavery, it did involve exploitation, it was white-male exclusive. What about that whole history, and to what degree is it worth relying on? Everybody does; even the right wing relies on it.

McGovern: Well, I think they were great, those Founding Fathers. I think Jefferson was a tremendously farsighted and intelligent man. Washington was a great administrator, and probably the person that was needed to launch the Union. He also had the ability to keep Jefferson and Hamilton in the same Cabinet without them shooting each other. Hamilton finally got shot by somebody else, but he and Jefferson didn’t agree on too much, and Washington wanted both of them in his Cabinet. So I think you’ve got to say Washington was a very great figure in the way he handled the first eight years. He was assailed right and left, even as was Lincoln. Lincoln, just to give you a few words that I recall, was called a senseless baboon; a traitor; was accused of selling out the country; even his physical appearance—he was described as an ugly creature. One problem with that is that Lincoln always thought he was ugly, he always thought he was homely. I don’t agree; I think he’s got a very noble face. I’d trade my mug for his any day. But he thought he was ugly. And when they tried to get Washington to run for a third term, he said: “I would rather be in my grave than to spend another four years in the White House.” And he bristled under these terrible things that were said about him. But I think these were great men. I think Adams was; Adams was a conservative, but we need that kind of conservative. I’ve never had any quarrel with honest-to-goodness conservatives any more than I had with honest-to-goodness liberals. I can’t stand these neoconservatives, I don’t know where they’re coming from, but I that think a person like John Adams you have to respect. One thing about the Founding Fathers: There were just a few of them, there were only about 150, and they all knew each other. And they wrote letters to each other, and they recommended books to each other, and they sent speeches to each other. Some of them were educated in three or four languages, including Jefferson, but a number of others—Lincoln is the one that had to get by with the least education, but he had great wisdom and great knowledge that was self-taught. So I think they were a very remarkable group of men. People ask me why we don’t produce people like that today, and I think probably we do, but in that time there was just this little group, as I say, maybe 150 or 200 people, and even Jefferson and Adams wrote hundreds of letters to each other, even though one was a liberal and one was a conservative. Mrs. Adams raised Jefferson’s children after Mrs. Jefferson died. And so they were close to each other; they had differences, but they were close to each other.


New and Improved Comments

If you have trouble leaving a comment, review this help page. Still having problems? Let us know. If you find yourself moderated, take a moment to review our comment policy.

M Henri Day's avatar

By M Henri Day, November 15, 2009 at 2:56 pm Link to this comment

«What is revealing is not that McGovern didn’t use his war record during the ‘68 campaign ...»

I fear, Claire, that you’re confounding Senator McGovern with Vice-President Humphrey….

Henri

Report this

By wearnoevil, November 14, 2009 at 7:16 pm Link to this comment

What is revealing is not that McGovern didn’t use his war record during the ‘68
campaign, but that Nixon knew how to take advantage of McGovern’s sense of
what is “unseemly.”  Nixon defines contemporary political bad behavior.

Report this

By Ray Duray, November 10, 2009 at 12:40 am Link to this comment

doubledementia,

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/health/8339647.stm

Of course we’re grumpy. Who wouldn’t be if they paid attention?

But the difference between people of your ilk and the honest among us is that you are a fraud. Apparently this is in high regard in certain circles. Perhaps you are a fellow Ayn Rand acolyte along with Alan Greenspan who has recently been outed as a criminal of the first order:

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/warning/etc/script.html

JOE NOCERA: He said something to the effect that, “Well, Brooksley, we’re never going to agree on fraud.” And she said, “Well, what do you mean?” And he said, “`You probably think there should be rules against it.” And she said, “Well, yes, I do.” He said, you know, “I think the market will figure it out and take care of the fraudsters.”

INTERVIEWER: The Alan Greenspan lunch did it actually happen? Where he says

BROOKSLEY BORN: I’m not going to talk about it. I’m not going to talk about it on camera.

NARRATOR: Born is reluctant to speak about her meetings with Greenspan or others in the Clinton administration. Greenspan refused to speak to FRONTLINE at all. But Born’s advisers did.

MICHAEL GREENBERGER: Greenspan didn’t believe that fraud was something that needed to be enforced, and he assumed she probably did. And of course, she did. I’ve never met a financial regulator who didn’t feel that fraud was part of their mission.

MANUEL ROIG-FRANZIA: And this is an absolute stunner for the new head of this tiny agency who is charged with making sure people don’t commit fraud.

NANCY DUFF CAMPBELL: Well, I think she was taken aback about how far he would go towards deregulation, that even the notion that we should police fraudulent activity he didn’t think was something that was a given.

MICHAEL GREENBERGER: That was her introduction to Alan Greenspan.

NARRATOR: The clash with Greenspan didn’t intimidate Born.

Report this

By doublestandards/glasshouses, November 9, 2009 at 5:24 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

The cynicism of much of the left blogosphere is
appalling.  I have to tune out for long periods. 
Several recent studies have shown that people who pay
attention to the news every day suffer from depression
at nearly double the rate of those who don’t.  I
suspect that that number is even higher for people of
leftist persuasion - they work at it so much harder.

Report this

By Ray Duray, November 8, 2009 at 11:07 pm Link to this comment

doublethink/bafflegab,

You wrote: “You had to have been there, I guess.”

Sigh…

I was there. Saw an entirely different reality from the one you soliloquize about.

Amy Goodman has a good reprise on the film “One Bright Shining Moment”. Most of us remember the more common “One Brief Shining Moment” which was a rhapsody in blues about John Kennedy’s magical moment. The First Run Film title is either an homage or a clever rip-off. I’m leaning toward the latter.

Here’s Amy’s take: http://www.democracynow.org/2006/7/19/one_bright_shining_moment_the_forgotten

For those who really give any kind of a bowel movement about what’s going on, however… I strongly recommend this emetic:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYIC0eZYEtI&NR=1

Among the crowd that I was part of in 1972, we were already so cynical, so convinced that the American political system was hopelessly controlled by a corporate cabal of fascist lunatics that the candidacy of George McGovern appeared to us to be so goofy, so quixotic and so

Report this

By doublestandards/glasshouses, November 8, 2009 at 8:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

You had to have been there, I guess.  “One Bright
Shining Moment: The Forgotten Summer of George
McGovern”  A great documentary film about the election
of 1972 narrated by Amy Goodman with commentary by Gore
Vidal, Howard Zinn, Ron Kovic, Gloria Steinem, and
others.  You can see the trailer here:
http://www.firstrunfeatures.com/trailers_onebright.html

Report this
M Henri Day's avatar

By M Henri Day, November 8, 2009 at 3:33 pm Link to this comment

Interestingly enough, there exists a parallel to the opposition by Senators Gruening and Morse to the infamous Tonkin Gulf Resolution, in which the US Congress abdicated - as it was again to do in a similar situation 38 years later - from its constitutional responsibility to determine war or peace. I’m thinking of the so-called «spot resolutions» introduced by Abraham Lincoln in the House of Representatives on 22 December 1847, which requested President James K Polk to provide the Congress with the exact location upon which blood had been spilt on American soil (Polk’s ostensible reason for requesting the Congress to declare war on Mexico). Pity that in the above article, neither Mr Scheer nor Senator McGovern, despite their no doubt profound knowledge concerning Lincoln, saw fit to compare the latter’s resolutions questioning the rationale behind one jingoistic war, with the Senator’s refusal to stand up and be counted along with his two colleagues in opposition to another in 1964….

Henri

Report this

By Ray Duray, November 8, 2009 at 2:59 pm Link to this comment

dihey,

You wrote: “If General Powell knew that he was forced to lie to the world he should have resigned, should he not? If he willingly chose to lie his act at the UN was much worse than that.”

You might want to take a look at Powell’s early rise through the ranks in the Army. While in Viet Nam he served with the Americal Division which was exposed by Seymour Hersh among others for the My Lai Massacre and a number of other such brutal incidents. Major Powell was less than forthright about the war crimes of his Division.

Reporter David Corn has more here:
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20010514/corn20010502

My point is that professional dissembling has been a hallmark of Gen. Powell’s succesful rise through the ranks.

Report this

By anyfool, November 8, 2009 at 8:31 am Link to this comment

I think both McGovern and you are great. However this is really,really poor on both your parts: McGovern saying ” It would have been unseemly” (like from Etiquette by Emily Post or Miss Manners ) and you saying ” it was the best answer I ever got from any politician to any question I ever asked”.

McGovern being concerned about being “unseemly” so we had Nixon with 58,000 of our forces killed and several millions of Vietnamese killed not to mention the injured on both sides. Scheer’s best answer means he hasn’t bothered to think through the results of concern with being unseemly.
______
And I asked Sen. McGovern, I said: “How come you didn’t bring up your war record in response to this and talk about your own personal heroism, which was considerable?” And George McGovern gave me an answer—it was the best answer I ever got from any politician to any question I ever asked—he said, “It would have been unseemly.”

Report this

By dihey, November 8, 2009 at 5:35 am Link to this comment

If General Powell knew that he was forced to lie to the world he should have resigned, should he not? If he willingly chose to lie his act at the UN was much worse than that. If his was not intellectual laziness to get well informed it was much worse than that namely moral turpitude/intellectual cowardice.
Thanks for correcting me!

Report this
Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, November 8, 2009 at 3:55 am Link to this comment

Ray Duray, November 8 at 3:58 am #
dihey,

You wrote: “Time and again the world has suffered
death and destruction due to intellectual laziness
(Iraq; General Powell!!!). McGovern’s vote on Tonkin
without demanding a thorough investigation in what
really happened prior to voting is absolutely
inexcusable.”
=================================================

I read dihey’s comment as “NOT” excluding Powell from
being guilty of intellectual laziness and, as you
say, blatant lies.

Report this
Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, November 8, 2009 at 1:47 am Link to this comment

john crandell, November 8 at 3:47 am #
“I’ve gradually disabused myself of all of these
romantic notions of Lincoln’s America. Let it go, I
say. Give it up. “
=============================================
Feels good, doesn’t it?

Report this

By Ray Duray, November 7, 2009 at 11:58 pm Link to this comment

dihey,

You wrote: “Time and again the world has suffered death and destruction due to intellectual laziness (Iraq; General Powell!!!). McGovern’s vote on Tonkin without demanding a thorough investigation in what really happened prior to voting is absolutely inexcusable.”

I agree 100% that McGovern has a record of acquiescing to the lies of Lyndon Johnson on the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution.

I disagree with you about Colin Powell. Within one day of his Feb. 5, 2003 liefest in the UN Security Council chambers there was a posting on the Internet from one of my altie websites citing 38 specific lies that Powell told and had to be perfectly cognizant that he was telling. For one example, Powell deliberately lied about “mobile biological warfare” trailers which the U.S. intel community knew full well to be hydrogen generators for weather balloons. Powell had to know this. There is some evidence to the effect that Powell tried to fight against Abe Shulsky and Doug Feith’s Office of Special Plans and the propaganda that they wanted Powell to hurl like feces at the Security Council presentation. Powell did remove the most egregiously ridiculous propaganda from his presentation, but he will go down in history as an ignominious yes man who willfully lied to the world on that day.

Report this

By Ray Duray, November 7, 2009 at 11:49 pm Link to this comment

doublestandards,

You wrote: “He said that he called for a complete withdrawal of American forces from Vietnam in a speech on the senate floor during the summer of 1963,”

I was a very well-read anti-war activist in the late 1960s. I spent a couple hundred hours actively working in the Eugene McCarthy campaign in 1968. I subscribed to Ramparts Magazine and I.F. Stone’s Weekly among other publications. I was keenly interested in the anti-war movement in the 1960s. Unless you can find the Federal Register citation for McGovern calling for withdrawl in 1963 I’m inclined to disbelieve both you and Sen. McGovern. I’ve never heard of such a speech before.

If McGovern did make such a speech, it is highly likely he did so during “morning business” in which Senators are at liberty to speak to an empty chamber and enter items “into the record”. From 1964 until the early 1970s George McGovern was essentially a nullity in the anti-war movement from what I could determine from the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Report this

By john crandell, November 7, 2009 at 11:47 pm Link to this comment

To think that Obama’s viewing these videos would make a whit of difference, well, such is the height of naivete.

Over the past year I’ve come to feel that Obama is one savagely dispassionate cynic. ALL policy decisions are, must be based upon political calculation and necessity. That and NOTHING ELSE. I for one suspect that now, in the wake of the Fort Hood incident, there will be no announcement regards don’t ask, don’t tell.

Vietnam simply does not resonate with him. He is too young.

I had come home from my own Once Upon A War in 1970 and immediately joined VVAW. I helped in McGovern’s ‘72 campaign and was present among the small group of supporters who remained on election eve at Long Beach Airport, waited for forty five minutes while the plane could be fixed and prepared for the flight home to South Dakota. So George came out and waved to our motley group of die-hards. I later read that that brought many on the plane to tears.

Nothing has changed. After all of the horror of Vietnam and the corruption of the Nixon regime, the American public that year really showed it’s moxie, two plus years following Kent State, shortly after which a majority of polled Americans had said yes, that they felt that if it were their son or daughter who had been present at the Kent State protest, then they as well ought to have been shot down by the Ohio State Guardsmen.

That’s America for you. I’ve gradually disabused myself of all of these romantic notions of Lincoln’s America. Let it go, I say. Give it up. Imagine: The Pacific States of America, The Atlantic States of America and the North-Central States of America and all of the others can form a hideous constitution of their own and go their own way. Let’s be rid of them forever.

Report this
Outraged's avatar

By Outraged, November 7, 2009 at 9:27 pm Link to this comment

An incredible interview, engaging…. even more engaging the second time it is read.

Quote: (Robert Scheer) “And I asked Sen. McGovern, I said: “How come you didn’t bring up your war record in response to this and talk about your own personal heroism, which was considerable?” And George McGovern gave me an answer—it was the best answer I ever got from any politician to any question I ever asked—he said, “It would have been unseemly.” And I thought to have a classy guy like that be president, what a gift. Now, some of us think maybe it’s happening, maybe it’s not happening right now, we’ll have a lively discussion about it. But when I look back on Sen. McGovern’s life, the key thing that stands out is integrity. A moral center.”

Absolutely, very much so.  Integrity is something that CONCRETELY can’t be bought.  Integrity is the bane of corruption, it is the voice of the other, it is empathetic, imperfect by ideological standards yet, overridingly integrity always cares, this is the REAL bottom line.

Article quote: (George McGovern)“Since I didn’t talk about it when it might have helped, maybe I might just take a couple of minutes to tell you why I volunteered to be a combat bomber pilot in World War II.” (pg. 2)

I would enamor that some might want to reread your experience and those of the many others who “went to war” and their sense of it…. then and now.

Article quote: “Scheer: Speaking of that, you got to be close to Sen. [Barry] Goldwater later in life.

McGovern: I did; I liked his bluntness,”

Bluntness, rightly or wrongly is genuine… this is the important factor.  The circumspect aspect of bluntness is found within the reality of its speaker, again… rightly or wrongly.

An excellent interview.

Report this

By Milt Waxman, November 7, 2009 at 3:58 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

I think both McGovern and you are great. However this is really,really poor on both your parts: McGovern saying ” It would have been unseemly” (like from Etiquette by Emily Post or Miss Manners ) and you saying ” it was the best answer I ever got from any politician to any question I ever asked”.

McGovern being concerned about being “unseemly” so we had Nixon with 58,000 of our forces killed and several millions of Vietnamese killed not to mention the injured on both sides. Scheer’s saying it was the “best answer I ever got” means you haven’t bothered to think through the results of concern with being unseemly.
——-
And I asked Sen. McGovern, I said: “How come you didn’t bring up your war record in response to this and talk about your own personal heroism, which was considerable?” And George McGovern gave me an answer—it was the best answer I ever got from any politician to any question I ever asked—he said, “It would have been unseemly.”

Report this

By dihey, November 7, 2009 at 2:15 pm Link to this comment

What makes you conclude that I question McGovern’s integrity? Whatever he said before the vote on the Gulf of Tonkin resolution are speeches. He voted for the resolution which was an action. In my book actions trump speeches. I question his vote which he obviously believed to be correct/necessary at that moment. I question his intellectual laziness at the time in the light of Morse and Gruening’s questions. Time and again the world has suffered death and destruction due to intellectual laziness (Iraq; General Powell!!!). McGovern’s vote on Tonkin without demanding a thorough investigation in what really happened prior to voting is absolutely inexcusable.

Report this
Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, November 7, 2009 at 6:03 am Link to this comment

When all is said and done; this is merely a paean to
McGovern and of little real value today. Sorry but, it
just rings hollow.

Report this
Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, November 7, 2009 at 12:31 am Link to this comment

dihey, November 6 at 5:39 pm #

I remember well; my parents were ardent Morse
supporters and I was a H.S. senior in 1963 facing the
prospect of being drafted. My parents were willing to
take me to Canada to avoid going to Viet Nam. Bad times
and bad juju.

Report this
Ouroborus's avatar

By Ouroborus, November 7, 2009 at 12:26 am Link to this comment

dihey, November 6 at 11:53 am #

Thanks, that smacked me hard as well. I lived in Oregon
during that time. Morse was one of the last great
senators.

Report this

By doublestandards/glasshouses, November 6, 2009 at 8:18 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Those of you who are questioning McGovern’s integrity
should actually watch the video.  He said that he
called for a complete withdrawal of American forces
from Vietnam in a speech on the senate floor during the
summer of 1963, more than a year before the Tonkin gulf
episode.  This is a matter of public record.

Report this

By dihey, November 6, 2009 at 1:39 pm Link to this comment

Senators Morse and Gruening did not merely oppose the resolution; they demanded that the ship’s log be provided to the Senate before the voting on the Gulf of Tonkin resolution because they had information that led them to suspect that the ship had been in the territorial waters of North Vietnam when the “attack” occurred. They even doubted that an attack had actually occurred and said so publicly. Senator McGovern had plenty of opportunity to join them before voting aye or nay. He was not “misled” he simply refused to become better informed. Today we know that Morse and Gruening were correct on both counts.

Redhound: there is no difference between the Senators who voted for the Iraq resolution and those who voted for the Bay of Tonkin resolution. Once the war machine gets rolling no amount of remorse will stop it as we have learned from Vietnam and Iraq. Let us recall that candidate Obama and his blind followers pilloried Hillary Clinton for having voted aye on the Iraq resolution. If any of you participated in that rounding on Hillary you are a hypocrite if you defend Senator McGovern today.

The huge lesson is: Congresspersons and Presidents: read/research/question/think before you act because you may save lives.

Report this

By Ray Duray, November 6, 2009 at 12:34 pm Link to this comment

To the Truthdig Editors,

The following statement that George McGovern was “the first senator to oppose the Vietnam War” is at best a distortion and at worst an outright lie.

As another commenter stated, the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution was not opposed by Senator McGovern.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gulf_of_Tonkin_Resolution

Please correct yourselves, lest you lose credibility.

And then remove this comment. Thank you.

Report this

By redhound, November 6, 2009 at 10:01 am Link to this comment

McGovern voted in favor of the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and he soon expressed his remorse for authorizing LBJ unlimited power. He knew it was a mistake and owned up to it. I would like to see the senators who authorized Bush to go into Iraq and Afghanistan would express their lack of good judgement. Alas our Senate is still made up of chicken hawks.

Report this

By mick koz, November 6, 2009 at 9:58 am Link to this comment

Thank you Bob…a brilliant interview..as always, you know how to get out of the way…to allow the true essence of the man to be revealed.

George McGovern is and always will be the quintessential American patriot and hero…a national treasure…Lincolnesque in his bearing…humble yet noble…plainspoken yet eloquent…

This transcript should be required reading for President Obama…please find someway for him to have access to it.

Report this

By doublestandards/glasshouses, November 6, 2009 at 9:57 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

McGovern had some great ideas in that ‘72 campaign
including a guaranteed minimum income for all citizens
and universal health care.  Of course the republicans
and conservative democrats became hysterical about
“government give-aways” but hey, giving a couple
trillion to wall street bankers - nothing wrong with
that.  He was the best either party has had to offer
for potus in my lifetime.

Report this

By surfnow, November 6, 2009 at 8:09 am Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Good point,dihey. I’m sure like so many other politicians he is especially well endowed with the psychological defense mechanism of rationalization- enough so that like Hillary in 2003 regarding the Invasion of Iraq, he too always claim that"he was misled.”

Report this

By dihey, November 6, 2009 at 7:53 am Link to this comment

Why do you give us wrong information? The Gulf of Tonkin resolution which gave President Johnson carte blanche in Vietnam was opposed by Senators Morse and Gruening only. Where was your hero McGovern on that day? Where was he? He became a US Senator in 1963. So, where was your hero in August 1964? On his farm in South Dakota? If he was in the Senate, how did he vote?

Report this
 
Right 1, Site wide - BlogAds Premium
 
Right 2, Site wide - Blogads
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 
 
 
Right Skyscraper, Site Wide
 
Join the Liberal Blog Advertising Network
 

A Progressive Journal of News and Opinion   Publisher, Zuade Kaufman   Editor, Robert Scheer
© 2014 Truthdig, LLC. All rights reserved.