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Saturday, December 3, 2011

Clean Gene and National Defense

Commentator Michael Cohen penned a piece on Presidential Nomination Candidate Eugene McCarty and how the Demcrats got a reputation for being "soft" on defense.  The title is "When Democrats Became Doves".  The lede lays out the theory:
Forty-four years ago this week, the senior senator from the state of Minnesota, Eugene McCarthy, stepped to a podium in the Senate Caucus Room and transformed the Democratic Party.  Angered by the war in Vietnam and his belief that President Lyndon Johnson would "set no limit to the price" he was "willing to pay for a military victory," there McCarthy announced his intention to challenge the incumbent president of his own party in four presidential primaries.
After a losing, but nevertheless respectable showing in New Hampshire by Senator McCarty, President Lyndon Johnson opted out of a 1968 run for reelection.

I pretty much agree with the case laid out.  The article is short and the history interesting and pertinent.  The one thing I would disagree with would be the implication that the 1980s defense buildup was about President Reagan.  It was definitely something that started under Democratic President Jimmy Carter.  He started his administration thinking he could be friends with the Soviet Union, but ended it cranking up the US defense effort.

The end of the article is an assertion of Senator McCarthys importance:
Even today, when Democrats debate national security—torn between anti-war liberals and hawkish centrists, and reluctant to be cast as wimps and weaklings by Republicans—they are arguing on a battlefield seeded by Gene McCarthy.  Footnote to history?  Not by a long shot.
You will have to judge for yourself about the late Senator McCarthy.&nbs; One friend did a quick poll at a dinner table outside DC.  Zero for ten.&nbs; But then I wasn't there.

Regards  —  Cliff

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