Thursday, October 30, 2008

The making of the President 1972

This was the first year in which I could legally vote for the office of President. Early in the year I perceived that the Democratic Party was doing its best imitation of Lemmings in following George McGovern into a headlong dive into the sea from about 10,000 feet. Why none of my contemporaries spotted this until much later is beyond me. By this time in  my life I had learned that anyone who thought like me could not possibly get elected in this country. Well, George thought just like me. Somehow he managed to get nominated. Actually, he got nominated because he had headed a commission for the party which changed the system of nominating to something that was aimed right at nominating himself. So much for St. George. Once he got to the convention, he ran the worst, most disorganized convention in American history and proceeded to nominate a man for Vice President who it turned out had a history of taking electro shock treatment ala Once Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Even then, old George said that he backed him 1000% and he did, right until he threw him off the ticket.

 

Nixon was renominated at a slick convention and then proceeded to run the dirtiest campaign of all time featuring break ins and hush money as well as good old fashioned laundered money. Apparently all contributions were made in cash in denominations of $100 unmarked bills. The accounting for the campaign was later used as a template for Enron. Then, days before the election, the Secretary of State announced that peace was at hand. Which it was, until after the election ,when it was not. Most all of Dick’s Senior Staff ended up indicted and a year and a half later were all in the hoosegow. Tricky Dick himself had to resign. Despite the fact that he was running against a certified felon, or maybe because of that fact, McGovern never made any headway. In the last days of the campaign he distinguished himself by telling a heckler to “kiss my ass”.This is the guy I worked for through the fall.

 

By election night I was resigned to defeat of cataclysmic proportions and, sure enough, that’s just what I got. As state after state, 49 in all, fell to the President, the mood at my apartment got increasingly grim as my roommate Gary and I pulled down swallows of King Cole Vodka (they had a great motto, “Vodka is Vodka”). At about 8:30,with the election effectively over I got a call from campaign headquarters asking me to take coffee to people still standing in line waiting to vote. “Are you guys watching T.V ? “ I asked. “What the hell difference does it make how many more votes the guy gets in Houston, Texas ?” Headquarters did not try to argue and I went back to watching the grim tidings on my 12 inch black and white television which at our garage apartment was perched on a sturdy cardboard box, right next to a bong. The big problem for the Democrats was that we were their typical voter. The idea of a candidate relying on people  like us was unfathomable to anyone except those who ran George’s campaign.

 

 I awoke the next morning with a slight hangover. So did the whole country. The headache lasted just short of two years when my first political hero left the office in disgrace as the Marine Corp and played “Jail to the Chief”.

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