Thursday, February 16, 2006

Clean for Gene

I've been getting a lot of reading done since my conversion to my work's fitness center. I plop down on a stationary bike, or prop my magazine up on the treadmill, and get to business. Two birds with one stone.

Yesterday I read about Deutschland's new leader, Angela Merkel, and the challenges she faces. (Although, Germany's consumer confidence and economy is turning around, so sayeth The Economist!)

Today I read a wonderful essay on Minnesota Senator, poet and insurgent anti-Vietnam War presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy in The Atlantic. Mark Steyn remembers McCarthy, who hailed from a little town not too far from where I grew up, as a funny guy who unwittingly tore apart his party.

"If you strike at the king, you have to kill him. And, amazingly, Eugene McCarthy did. On March 12, 1968, the not exactly barnstorming senator got 42.4 percent of Democratic votes in the New Hampshire primary and denied the sitting president even a majority of his party's own supporters: Lyndon Johnson secured just 49.5 percent. Within three weeks, he was gone: the president announced he would not seek re-election and effectively ended his political career."

"His colleague George McGovern hailed him for "a wit equal to Shaws's," though, like most political wit, it shrivels on citation. McGovern commends the riposte McCarthy made to Congressman Hill of Colorado, who in a debate on agricultural subsides had brought up "some French girl" who'd been burnt at the stake. The gentleman from Minnesota replied, "I don't think Joan of Arc went to her death in defense of flexible farm price supports!"

"Shortly after the 1968 campaign, his wife, Abigail, left him, though, as devout Catholics, they never divorced. And so it was with his party: they left the man but without ever being quite able to divorce themselves from the McCarthyite spirit of '68. Bliss was it in that dawn to be alive, but to be young and Clean for Gene was very heaven."

RIP Gene-o

Today: 60 minutes on the bike
Tomorrow: outdoor walk


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