web analytics
August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


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. He can be contacted at jmaoz@jewishpress.com.


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.

Current Top Story
Grafitti on the walls of the Church of the Multiplication at Tabgha, on the Sea of Galilee, in northern Israel, which was set on fire in June 2015.
6 Months’ Jail Without Trial for Jewish Teen Linked to Church Arson
Latest Indepth Stories
The Quran

Islamists spoke of “Love and Justice in a World of Suffering,” skipping the horrors caused by Islam

President  Barack Obama.

How and when is it appropriate for pulpit rabbis to comment publicly on the Iran issue?

David Menachem Gordon

David was many things: Brother, son, grandson, nephew, uncle, cousin, talmid, comrade, AND a WARRIOR

Graffiti at Duma home that was torched in Samara.

Some Israelis seem to have forgotten no one has yet tracked down the murderers of Ali Bawabsheh.

Aside from my own 485-page tome on the subject, Red Army, I think Jamie Glazov did an excellent job at framing things in United in Hate: The Left’s Romance with Tyranny and Terror.

“Isn’t it enough that the whole world hates us? WHy do we have to hate each other?”

Who said Kerry won no concessions from Iran? He secured pistachios and Beluga caviar for America!

In 2015, Israel’s fertility rate (3+ births per woman) is higher than all Arab countries except 3

The New Israel Fund, as usual, condemns the State of Israel rather than condemning a horrible act.

I sought a Muslim group that claims to preach a peaceful and accepting posture of Islam, Ahmadiyya

While Orthodox men are encouraged to achieve and celebrated for it, Orthodox women too often are not

Jonathan remember, as long as you’re denied your right to come home to Israel you’re still in prison

Reports of a dead baby, a devastated family, and indications of a gloating attacker.

“The fear of being exposed publicly is the only thing that will stop people,” observed Seewald.

“Yesha” and Binyamin Regional Council leaders said the attack “is not the path of Jews in Judea and Samaria.”

The occasion? The rarely performed mitzvah of pidyon peter chamor: Redemption of a firstborn donkey.

More Articles from Jason Maoz
Assemblymember Bichotte speaking in the New York State Assembly.

The bills I’m proud to have sponsored are less controversial, more responsive to yeshiva and parochial school parents, and were gaining traction in the Assembly until the negative campaign began…

Zechariah Schwarzberg, z”l

Though intimately acquainted with mankind’s darkest side, he never lost his faith&love in God or man

Some of the president’s defenders took to arguing that the overwhelming majority of German military personnel interred in Bitburg were regular Wehrmacht soldiers who died on the battlefield and likely were not involved in atrocities against civilians.

Note also the response to the speech by the top Democrats in the House and Senate, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, both of whom have been outspoken in their criticism of Netanyahu’s upcoming visit.

The New York State comptroller manages the state’s $180.7 billion pension fund, audits the spending practices of all state agencies and local governments, oversees the New York State and Local Retirement System, reviews the New York State and City budgets, and approves billions in State contracts and spending.

While not all criticism of Israel stemmed from anti-Semitism, Podhoretz contends the level of animosity towards Israel rises exponentially the farther left one moved along the spectrum.

When you grow up in a home where your parents went through what my parents went through, you realize that life has to be meaningful. You have to be there for other people.

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

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: