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

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

(Page 4)

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

McGovern: I did; I liked his bluntness, and I used to see him down in the Senate gym all the time. He and I would get down there for an hour three or four times a week, and we’d sit in that steam room and talk. One thing he told me, Robert, he said: “You know, George, I know you’re always trying to cut the military budget. If you and [Sen. William] Proxmire would come over to my office for about a half a day sometime, I’ll show you how to cut that budget by a fourth and they’ll never miss it.” Unfortunately, he left office very soon after that. But Goldwater was not a stupid man. I think that he got steadily more liberal as he got older; most people get more conservative as they get older. Goldwater, for example after he got married a second time, when the first Mrs. Goldwater died—she influenced him on a number of things—and when Bill Clinton said we should permit gays to serve in the military, I wish he had had Goldwater with him when he made that statement. Because Goldwater told me down in the Senate gym, he says, “Hell, I don’t care whether a guy is straight or gay, as long as he can shoot straight.” And that would have been a good thing, I think, to put out for the general public. And then he said, “You know, George, we’ve had gays in the military ever since the Revolutionary Army.” I didn’t know that, but I’m always glad to believe something like that.

PART 6: Lyndon Johnson’s Secret; Cause of 1972 Election Landslide

Scheer: Let me ask you, getting a little closer to home, the Democrats: You mentioned before [that] you were a great admirer of John Kennedy, but John Kennedy did get us into Vietnam. At what point do you break with the Democratic Party?

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McGovern: Well, keep in mind I made my break in my first year in the Senate. John Kennedy was president when I made that first speech warning against involvement in Vietnam. One thing I wish I had known is that Lyndon Johnson hated that war. If you read “The Johnson Tapes”—it’s a book edited by this historian, Michael Beschloss [editor’s note: “Taking Charge: The Johnson White House Tapes, 1963-1964”], and it’ll knock you out of your chair, if you haven’t already read it. Johnson, just a few weeks after he got in the White House, he called in Dick Russell, the senior senator from Georgia who was chairman of the Armed Services Committee, and he says—and I’m just quoting what the tapes quote—he says: “Dick, what the hell are we going to do with that mess in Vietnam? We have no business out there, but I don’t know how to get out of the damn place.” And Russell said: “Well, remember Kennedy got that bunch to knock off old [President Ngo Dinh] Diem out there, and maybe you can find out who they were and get them, get some kind of a little coup to put them back in power, and then they could ask us—you’d probably have to pay them—but they could ask us to get the hell out of there.” He says: “That’s the only way I can figure out.” Neither one of these two senior political leaders, and both very bright, was willing to just say we’re coming home because we shouldn’t be there. They wanted somehow to get out without admitting we were wrong to be there. And that’s really, as you read these tapes, you’ll see that’s what was going on. And none of us who were criticizing the war had even a clue that Johnson had any question about it. And here the truth of the matter is he couldn’t stand it, but he didn’t know how to … he didn’t start the war, and he didn’t know how to get out. It’s as simple as that. Keep in mind Johnson was raised in the background of the Alamo. The Texas soldiers fought until the last man on the Alamo; well, every Texas schoolboy is taught that that’s the meaning of valor and courage, to stand up and die to the last man.

Scheer: What happened in those Lyndon Johnson discussions, the killer argument on his part was, “If I do this, I’ll be defeated.” That was the killer. “If I do this, they’ll have me for lunch; and so I can’t be the first president to lose the war, I can’t get out.” That has been the blackmail that has destroyed the Democratic Party, as far as I can see. At least Republicans, including Nixon, had a little bit of a cushion; no one’s going to call them soft, although they did with Eisenhower. And I imagine the discussion now in the higher circles of the Democratic Party and the White House was: I doubt very many people can make the case we should stay [in Afghanistan]; there’s a great deal of evidence that al-Qaida is not there; there are fewer than a hundred of them, according to the president’s intelligence adviser, and they can’t mount an attack, and so forth. We now have some reports about how it makes it much worse. But I suspect the compelling argument that may cause an escalation will be the one that drove Lyndon Johnson, which is: We will be hurt politically. And you stand as the exclamation point to that. They all say: See, we tried to do that—and you were defeated. Looking back at that history, what do you draw from that? Here was Richard Nixon, who was already breaking into your headquarters, already doing all these things, got a kind of free ride from the media right up through that election, Watergate didn’t break until after that. What is your feeling about you being used as a kind of poster boy for “No, we can’t do the right thing in foreign policy because we’ll be McGoverned”?

McGovern: Well, first let me say this. We did win the nomination. We did win 11 primaries, including the two biggest ones, California and New York. We were able to put together the best grass-roots army of dedicated people, I think, in the history of this country. Wonderful people. Marsha Hunt, back here, was one of them. I just described you as one of the best volunteers in American history. [Applause] Anyway, I think there’s no question that we prevailed inside the Democratic Party. We had a majority there. Now, the problem with that, politically, is that the Vietnam War was fought out within the Democratic Party. The hawks and the doves—those weren’t Republicans, those were Democrats. The Republicans finessed the issue by saying that “we’re going to support the commander in chief of the armed forces.” And that’s what they did, whether it was Kennedy or Nixon or Johnson or whoever it was, they were always with the commander in chief. It doesn’t mean they were for or against the war, they’re just saying … they finessed the issue. Democrats, no way, you were either a hawk or a dove, you had to stand up and battle. So while I think by the time the votes were taken in the bid for the nomination, a small majority of Democrats were probably against the war, that meant that almost half the Democrats were for the war. And therefore, when I won that nomination and then had to go out and face the country, the Republicans were united pretty solidly behind Nixon, and the Democrats were split right down the middle on Vietnam. There’s no question that a lot of those people who were in support of the war voted for Nixon. That’s the only way I can account for the landslide. I don’t think Nixon was all that likeable or that I was all that unlikable, but I think that war issue, which was a key with Democrats, I think that a lot of the pro-war Democrats voted for Nixon. That wasn’t out of evil; it was just out of their conviction that we had to stay there and fight, and we had to win.

PART 7: The Political Wisdom of an Afghanistan Pullout

(Editor’s note: Audience questions have been edited for brevity and clarity.)

What sort of advice would you give President Obama on the great moral issues of today?

—Bruce Baron, middle school principal

McGovern: I would urge him to get out of Afghanistan. I could even make the case on political grounds. I’m convinced that war is going to turn sour. I’m convinced we’re not going to prevail there. People have been trying that ever since Alexander the Great. Genghis Khan even made a shot at it. The British throughout the 19th century were in there several times trying to pacify the thing and finally gave up. The Russians were there for 11 years, 1979 until 1990, they put in 100,000 crack soldiers, 25,000 of them killed dead in Afghanistan, another 25,000 crippled or injured. And the Russian treasury went broke, and some of our best Soviet experts believe that’s what really led to the collapse of the Soviet Union. As you know, it’s now 16 independent states instead of the United Soviet Socialist Republics. So I would go through that with the president, and I would point out that some of the best reporters over there are telling us that the Taliban are getting stronger and we’re getting weaker in the minds of the people, and that you have a corrupt government involved in drugs, involved in just plain old-fashioned stealing and corruption. It’s a lousy government, and it’s very difficult, even for a great country like this, to make them look good. So I think we have every reason to withdraw, and I would try to urge that course for the president. In other words, I don’t want to see happening to him what happened to Lyndon Johnson. Lyndon Johnson was a great president, in many ways. He had a great vision; a Great Society, he got ridiculed for that, but there’s nothing wrong with a president seeing America as a great society. And he did a lot of things good; he got these two landmark civil rights bills passed that no other president that I know of could have gotten through the Congress. And so what brought him down, and led him not to even run again, was the war in Vietnam. And I’d remind the president—I’m a strong supporter of Barack Obama. I think he’s a brilliant young guy and I think he can make a great president. Certainly our place in the world has gone up dramatically with him in the … most people around the world don’t look like you and me, they look like him. And I think that our standing worldwide is much better, all across Europe, Asia, Africa, Latin America. And I think he still stands high with the American public, but I think this war is his biggest danger. Now, on the other big issue, national health care, I wish he had not started with a compromise proposal. There’s always room for compromise as you go along. His bill, as the House passed it, is now 2,000 pages long. The one that Hillary Clinton had 16 years ago was 1,300 pages. The problem with that is it’s so easy for demagogues to pick them apart. And nobody’s ever going to read 2,000 pages; at least I never have. I was in Congress for 22 years, but I never read a [2,000]-page bill, and I don’t think anybody else will. And so it’s easy to subject them to it. I would have just had a one-sentence bill: Congress hereby extends Medicare to all Americans. Period.


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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

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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.

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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.

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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

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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

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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

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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.

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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.”

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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!

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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?

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