Monday, June 07, 2004

Eugene McCarthy: Maverick Politician with Balls of Steel

"Salon: You said after the 9/11 terrorist attacks that America itself is not innocent of terror.

McCarthy: That's right. It doesn't mean we should forgive those guys -- bin Laden and the rest. We shouldn't. But we need to be aware that we terrorized black people for 300 years, for nearly 100 years after the Emancipation. They were still being terrorized when we passed the civil rights legislation in the 1960s. The other effect that was a kind of terror was our buildup of nuclear weapons. When we produced the hydrogen bomb that was a so-called clean bomb -- it killed only living matter -- it didn't destroy trucks and tanks. They said you wouldn't have to rebuild the cities; the bomb only killed people. We're still not doing much about the terror of nuclear weapons."

Interview with Eugene McCarthy in Salon.com (they require you watch a brief commercial in order to read their articles. It's mostly painless!)


With the dearth of Reagan-worship going on these days, it is refreshing to read about a Democrat like Eugene McCarthy. His many years in the U.S. Senate and his unsuccessful attempts to win the presidency may have caused his name to fall by the wayside but he remains a Great Man just the same.

He had the balls to run against his own Democratic Party because they had sunk America into a quagmire in Vietnam (during JFK's presidency) but Robert F. Kennedy's strong showing caused Eugene to drop out of the race. He was also the only elected public official willing to question the other famous McCarthy's insane, quasi-paranoid inquisition of suspected communist sympathisers. In post-WWII America, this was an act of bravery. Standing up against the seemingly-immovable status quo is always reserved for the most fearless of us all.

I wish that the current Democratic nominee (although he hasn't "formally accepted" this title yet) were made of fire and water like Eugene, instead of being carved completely out of wood. Yes, it is a little known fact but John Kerry is only a couple of termites away from becoming sawdust.

Of course, if I were an American citizen, I'd gladly vote for a pile of wood shavings over the current Diablus Horriblus, George W. Bush, in an instant. John Kerry can be expected to hold the line in terms of Iraq but he will definately make strides to reach out to other nations and rebuild some of the collective goodwill that Bush has so tragically destroyed. Bush's constant refusal to engage other nations on matters of global importance and the ballooning deficit (that originated due to his tax cuts for the rich) will probably result in his political downfall.

One stumbling block to a Democratic win in 2004 is John Kerry's fear of being a Liberal. Sometimes, he seems to try to appear more Right-wing than the Republicans (witness his fear of standing with the Pro-Choice folks, or even his assertion that he is against Gay marriage) but I think he'd still be an improvement over Bush. Don't even get me started on Nader. (I love Ralph's moral conviction but he may just split the vote again and that would be both bad for America and nightmarish for the rest of the world, ie. four more years of Bush-league politics).

Eugene McCarthy is still alive (at the ripe old age of 88) and apparently he still writes the occasional poem, but he's given up on politics, except as an observer. Cheers, Eugene, and let us hope that young Americans will be inspired by your bravery and devotion to freedom, not by that brash, "cowboy with his guns drawn", world-antagonizer Ronald Reagan. (Reagan's legacy includes selling chemical and biological WMD to Saddam Hussein, arming guerillas in Nicaragua to overthrow their government, and nearly turning the Cold War into a nuclear one. I won't be weeping when they put his coffin in the ground.)

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