Miroff (Icons of Democracy: American Leaders as Heroes, Aristocrats, Dissenters, and Democrats), a political science professor at SUNY-Albany, deconstructs the few successes and many failures of McGovern's Democratic insurgency. Miroff names several factors underlying the magnitude of his defeat by Richard Nixon (McGovern carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia), among them organized labor's desertion, orchestrated by AFL-CIO president George Meany, an old school anticommunist at odds with McGovern's anti–Vietnam War stance; the failure of mainstream Democratic regulars to embrace McGovern; McGovern's so-called Jewish problem based on fears that he was not sufficiently pro-Israel; and the charge—instigated by the Nixon campaign and perpetuated by the media—that McGovern was too radical. Miroff notes that the 1972 campaign presaged a number of political trends, some good, some bad. On the positive side, the campaign showed the power of grassroots politics; on the negative side was an identity crisis in the Democratic Party, caught between liberal ideals and political pragmatism. Thorough, well sourced (the author was able to interview McGovern) and well written as it is, this will be primarily of interest to '60s survivors and political junkies. 21 photos. (Sept. 14)
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