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May 30, 2008



I hear that’s a very good book.

McCarthy’s motivations may not have been so pure. The Kennedys thought he was talking to Johnson about the second spot on the ticket if Kennedy could be stopped.

It was, however, a magnificent speech. I saw it on C-SPAN some years ago when they were replaying old convention footage and it left me with my tongue hanging out. McCarthy was really calling down the thunder and the Stevenson people were screaming their lungs out. Those were the days.

Not really relevant to your point, I know.

John Petty

I'll confess: I never liked Stevenson--too haughty and smug.

What did you think about the remark that liberals settle for "honor" above winning?


Stevenson was a bit on the haughty side, but perhaps that was a result of temperament and upbringing (someone once called him ‘a Republican for Stevenson’ and at home in Bloomington he was surrounded by GOPers of the stodgiest type imaginable). He seems to have been a very decent guy, and I don’t think he was too decent to win or try to win. I’m not sure that I would attribute Stevenson’s defeats to an excess of nobility so much as adverse historical circumstances. Losing liberal candidates may take retrospective consolation in honor preserved, but is it a question of choosing virtue over victory while the fight is going on? McGovern, for example, wasn’t the world’s greatest candidate, but he was up against an actual criminal conspiracy. He could have been a pit bull and it might not have helped him much. The Kennedys made a cult of ‘toughness’ in direct contrast to the Stevensonians, who were painted as hopeless weenies, which was not only unfair but led the brothers into some unpleasant directions.

(Anyway, if Obama gets the nomination, we certainly won’t have to worry about having a candidate who’s too honorable to win.)

John Petty

Good comments, especially at the end.

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