Monday, December 12, 2005

Clean for Gene

The Moose mourns the passing of a unique politician.

The Moose was saddened by the death of Senator Gene McCarthy. These days, our politics are infected by innumerable humorless, cowardly, predictable, witless and mindlessly partisan politicians. McCarthy had his faults, but those were not them. He was a wit, independent and had the capacity to surprise. When Bobby Kennedy and others were cautious about taking on their President, the thoughtful pol from the heartland stepped forward. Andy Ferguson perfectly captured the Senator in this piece that appeared a while back in the Weekly Standard.

Later on in his political career, he became a gadfly who was somewhat embittered by his clashes with the establishment. But, the Moose always had a warm spot in his heart for Senator McCarthy and still does. Back when the Moose was young in '68, he went "clean for Gene" as a volunteer in the Waco campaign headquarters of the McCarthy Campaign. Needless to say, we did not sweep Central Texas that year, but the experience was one the Moose cherishes. As he used to say back in his Heritage Foundation days, he was the only employee who worked for that Senator McCarthy!

The McCarthy campaign was the first thrust of the "new politics" movement that was culturally liberal (although McCarthy himself was a socially moderate to conservative Catholic) and distinctly dovish. This movement eventually came to control the Democratic party. And for the next forty years, the Democrats have been faced with the challenge to prove that they are not soft on security and out of the cultural mainstream.

Ironically, some of the contemporary lefties in the party are unaware that they are attempting to recreate a movement that existed before some of them were born. At the beginning, it was led by a witty political pied piper from Minnesota.

If only his political heirs had his irony or sense of humor.
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