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The Liberals' Moment: The McGovern Insurgency and the Identity Crisis of the Democratic Party Paperback – September 18, 2007
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Miroff's first part of the book describes the actual 1972 campaign. The earlier 1968 Democratic presidential nomination campaign is briefly described. That contest situated George McGovern alongside Bobby Kennedy, Hubert Humphrey, Gene McCarthy and others as the party tries to pick up the pieces after LBJ declines to seek re-election. The book moves into the jockeying in the years before the 1972 campaign and describes the strategy and tactics of the campaign. In this, Miroff introduces us to McGovern's biography and the issues he cares most about.
Two chapters are titled "The Left-Center Strategy" and "A Downward Arc." These describe the blueprints behind his 1972 campaign strategy and the successes and failures of it for both the primary and general election campaigns. The chapters also describe the chaotic Miami Beach Convention, the Eagleton affair and the principal architects and practitioners of the strategy and tactics of the campaign.
A critical theme that is described is the intense campaign against McGovern by fellow Democrats that lasted into the convention itself. The attempt by Humphrey to reclaim his throne and the hostility of labor leaders all forced the campaign to fight a prolonged two-front war. The campaign was distracted from focusing on in Nixon until very late. In one sense, this made victory almost impossible in November 1972.Read more ›
The author covers so many angles...all with clarity. Yes, it was a race about the war in Vietnam and ideology, and it was prompted in large part by grassroots from young people. But it was also a campaign that had an ugly flip side...one has largely forgotten the damage that Hubert Humphrey did to McGovern in the run-up to the Democratic convention in Miami Beach and the loss of "traditional" Democrats...blue-collar workers and ethnic voters. But the campaign, itself, from the Eagleton affair to the "demogrant", right up to Election Day.....we all knew McGovern would lose but for those of us who voted for him (it was my first presidential vote cast as a nineteen-year-old) this was as passionate as campaigns get. And quite rightly, as Miroff points out, that holds true for many of us today.
The legacy of the McGovern campaign is covered well and Miroff balances things to a tee. He's also good at telling us what happened to all those people who were "high-ups" working for McGovern. It's fascinating when he compares McGovern to other candidates who ran in succeeding years for the presidency and how they never had a clear and succinct message. Unfortunately, we're seeing some of those same things appear in the presidential race in 2008.
Finally, Miroff has a few kind words about George McGovern, himself.Read more ›