web analytics
September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post
Meir Panim with Soldiers 5774 Roundup: Year of Relief and Service for Israel’s Needy

Meir Panim implements programs that serve Israel’s neediest populations with respect and dignity. Meir Panim also coordinated care packages for families in the South during the Gaza War.



Home » InDepth » Monitor »

The Media Myth of Gene McCarthy



Eugene McCarthy died last week at age 89, and should anyone have been surprised by the highly selective memory demonstrated by many in the media who eulogized the former Minnesota senator best remembered for his 1968 antiwar presidential candidacy?

How many Americans, for example, are aware that McCarthy, in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks on America, said that U.S. foreign policy – i.e., our being closely aligned with Israel at the expense of the Palestinians – was at least partially responsible for the atrocities? “You let a thing like that fester, you have to expect something like this to happen,” he told the Associated Press.

That statement was conspicuously missing in much of the coverage of McCarthy’s passing (while The New York Times saw fit to leave it out of its lengthy obituary, The Washington Post, to its credit, did include it in its obit).

McCarthy’s post-9/11 blame-the-victim mentality was eerily reminiscent of a little-known comment he made way back in that totemic year of 1968 upon first hearing of the assassination of Robert Kennedy, his main rival for the Democratic nomination.

McCarthy’s reaction to the news, notes Dominic Sandbrook in Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American Liberalism:

did not endear him to his advisers. According to Blair Clark, McCarthy remarked, “He brought it on himself” while Curtis Gans heard him quietly muttering, “Demagoguing to the last.” McCarthy later admitted that this was indeed how he felt. Kennedy, he said, had played up his support for Israel in their televised debate: he therefore had only himself to blame for provoking [his assassin] Sirhan Sirhan.

The journalist Charles Kaiser (a former McCarthy supporter), in his book 1968 in America, wrote that “McCarthy’s explanation was one of the meanest interpretations of the tragedy ever articulated.” McCarthy, Kaiser continued, was “the only person to pin the blame for the shooting directly on its victim.”

McCarthy’s iconic status among aging liberal baby-boomers stems almost entirely from his showing in the 1968 New Hampshire Democratic primary – he came shockingly close to defeating President Lyndon Johnson, who shortly afterward announced that he would no longer seek reelection – but a few important facts have been waylaid over the years.

First, McCarthy deliberately muted his antiwar position while campaigning in New Hampshire, concentrating on the more nebulous issues of “character and leadership.” In his television ads, writes Sandbrook, “it was impossible to tell whether McCarthy was for or against the war.”

Second, President Johnson, unlike McCarthy, was not on the ballot in New Hampshire (primaries had yet to achieve their present-day make-or-break importance), so each of his votes had to be a write-in. That’s still not a valid excuse for a sitting president’s failure to beat a challenger by more than seven percentage points, but it is something to keep in mind.

Third, polls in New Hampshire indicated that McCarthy’s near-victory was fueled in great measure by voters who felt the Johnson administration was not being aggressive enough in its prosecution of the war, and that many of those who voted for McCarthy would not have done so if they’d known he was a dove. Not a few New Hampshire McCarthy voters wound up voting in the November general election for either Richard Nixon or George Wallace, both hawks on Vietnam. So much for the Great Peace Crusade.

McCarthy’s path to the White House ran into a roadblock erected by Robert Kennedy, who rather opportunistically jumped into the race following New Hampshire, and after Kennedy’s death the party basically handed the nomination to vice president Hubert Humphrey, whose position on Vietnam was summed up in his description of the war as “our great adventure, and what a wonderful one it is!”

How minimal was McCarthy’s influence on the country at large? In 1972 – a full eight years after the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution, four years after the Tet offensive and the media buzz generated by McCarthy in New Hampshire, three years after revelation of the My Lai massacre, and two years after the National Guard shootings at Kent State – the Democratic presidential nominee, George McGovern, running on an unambiguous vow to end the war, suffered a loss of staggering dimensions to President Nixon.

About the Author: Jason Maoz is the Senior Editor of The Jewish Press.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “The Media Myth of Gene McCarthy”

Comments are closed.

SocialTwist Tell-a-Friend

Current Top Story
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks to the UNGA, Sept. 29, 2014.
State Dept Press Corps Shapes US Response to Netanyahu’s UN Speech
Latest Indepth Stories
Ayatollah Hossein-Kazamani Boroujerdi, in better times (left) and in his prison cell (right).

Boroujerdi was informed that “the pressures and tortures will increase until he has been destroyed.”

Senior Hamas and Fatah leaders in Gaza City on April 22. Hamas and Fatah signed a deal to establish a unity government, but since then little progress has been made.

Fatah: Hamas stole relief aid for Gaza and distributed it amongst its followers in mosques.

FE_PR_100112_22Learning_CableTV425x282

Can teenagers seriously be expected to behave properly when they are surrounded by so much suggestive material? Is it fair to expose them (and ourselves) to so much temptation and then tell them, “Just say no”?

Narendra Modi

Washington remains ignorant of the need to dismantle alliances with various Muslim countries.

Defeating IS requires bombing its strongholds and recognizing the violent nature of Islam.

Abbas again used the UN to attack Israel, distort history, and undermine prospects for peace.

Israel and the Palestinian Authority cannot even agree to move their clocks back on the same day.

Shemita is about relating to each other by temporarily eliminating gaps of wealth power & status

David transcended adversity to become a leader; Who are we to make excuses for a lack of greatness?

sympathy: Feeling sorrow or pity for another’s tribulations; Empathy:sharing an emotional experience

Last week the president announced a four-point plan. Unfortunately, there’s little buy-in from our European and Middle Eastern allies. Here’s my own four-point plan that may be more palatable to our allies.

Rosh Hashanah has an obvious connection to God’s Kingship. We constantly refer to Him during the Asseres Yemei Teshuvah as Melech/King. The nusach of the tefillah, referring to Rosh Hashanah as “a remembrance of the first day” (of Creation), implies a certain dimension of divine kingship operating at the time of Creation and replicated every […]

Yes, God judges, but His judgment is that of a loving father who longs for his child’s quick return.

Anti-Semitism has returned to the mainstream of European society and Israel has become its focus.

Home is Milwaukee where their congregation, Beth Jehudah, and community always await their return.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
William Safire

“It’s a lousy column and a dishonest one,” Halberstam wrote. “So close it. Or you will end up just as shabby as Safire.”

Charles Krauthammer

Wye would be seen to have set the groundwork for the creation of a Palestinian state

These are not necessarily the best all-around biographies or studies of the individual presidents listed (though some rank right up there), but the strongest in terms of exploring presidential attitudes and policies toward Israel.

The Clintonan “engagement” liberals remember with such fondness did nothing but embolden Arafat and Hamas and Hizbullah as they witnessed Israel’s only real ally elevate process ahead of policy.

What really makes one wonder about the affinity felt by certain Jews for Grant was the welcome mat he put out for some of the country’s most pernicious anti-Semites.

With 2013 marking half a century since Kennedy’s fateful limousine ride in Dallas, the current revels are exceeding the revisionist frenzies of years past, with a seemingly endless parade of books, articles and television specials designed to assure us that, despite everything that has come to light about him since his death, JFK was a great president, or at least a very good president who would have been great had his life not been so cruelly cut short.

As someone who for the past fifteen years has been writing a column that largely focuses on the news media, I’ve read what is no doubt an altogether unhealthy number of books on the subject. Most of them were instantly forgettable while some created a brief buzz but failed to pass the test of time. And then there were those select few that merited a permanent spot on the bookshelf.

George W. Bush has been getting some positive media coverage lately, with recent polls showing him at least as popular as his successor, Barack Obama, and a big new book about the Bush presidency by New York Times chief White House correspondent Peter Baker (Days of Fire, Doubleday) portraying Bush as a much more hands-on chief executive than his detractors ever imagined.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/media-monitor/the-media-myth-of-gene-mccarthy/2005/12/14/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: