Sunday, December 11, 2005

Senator Eugene McCarthy

"There is only one thing to do
- take it to the country!"

Former Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy (D-Minn.), whose surprisingly strong showing in the 1968 New Hampshire presidential primary dramatized deepening public opposition to the Vietnam War and effectively ended President Lyndon B. Johnson's political career, died yesterday Saturday, December 10th. He was 89.

Several years ago I was present at Wells College when Sen. McCarthy read his poetry.

Sitting there in a floral print wingback chair Sen. McCarthy shared his poems with the Wells women and a few men. I recall feeling that I was in the presence of a man who was comfortable in his skin.

While Sen. McCarthy was viewed by peers as something of a ruminator and a curmudgeon. I remember him as a most civil man driven by his conscience.

Robert Kennedy's brother, Senator Edward M. Kennedy of Massachusetts, said in a statement yesterday: "Gene's name will forever be linked with our family. In spite of the rivalry with Bobby in the 1968 campaign, I admired Gene enormously for his courage in challenging a war America never should have fought. His life speaks volumes to us today, as we face a similar critical time for our country."

Sen. McCarthy often proclaimed his dependence on Thomas More as "the first modern man, the first political man."

"He was forced to make a kind of individual and personal choice at a time when there was great upheaval," Mr. McCarthy noted with satisfaction as he tried to explain himself to a nation also in upheaval.


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