Pixel Tracker

Tuesday, November 20 , 2018, 8:22 am | Fog/Mist 51º

 
 
 
 

Mark Shields: Where Is the Republican Gene McCarthy?

After Election Day in 1964, when Lyndon B. Johnson won a landslide victory over Republican Barry Goldwater and Democrats procured a 68-32 majority in the Senate, the Democratic Caucus of the U.S. Senate met in private. Rightly confident — they now had the numbers needed to pass Medicare, Medicaid and the Voting Rights Act — euphoric Senate Democrats generally were unreceptive to the solemn reality check delivered by their just re-elected Minnesota colleague, Eugene McCarthy. Stipulating his own and the caucus' strong support for LBJ, who was their former majority leader, McCarthy warned that if there arose a need to stand up to President Johnson for any major error in foreign or domestic policy, because the Republicans were such a depleted minority, it could only come from those on the Democratic side.

True to his word, McCarthy, undefeated in seven Minnesota elections, on Nov. 30, 1967, earned the begrudging admiration of his timid colleagues and the gratitude of concerned Americans when he effectively sacrificed his own political career by rising to challenge LBJ, whose war policy in Vietnam many objected to, for the Democratic presidential nomination. He also changed history.

Twice in this campaign year, I have heard candidates publicly disparaging their opponents for, not unlike McCarthy, acting on conscience. The first was Democrat Marie Newman — backed by many national liberal groups, including the political arms of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America — who attacked her Illinois primary opponent, Rep. Dan Lipinski, for his lifelong opposition to abortion.

This statement by Newman went publicly uncriticized by her liberal supporters: "We can't vote our own conscience as (Lipinski) likes to say. We have to vote how our constituents want us to vote." By that logic, the 156 senators and representatives who dared, when the public backed going to war by more than a 3-1 ratio, to vote against the mistaken U.S. invasion of Iraq should have been banished from office. Newman lost.

The second occurred this past week in South Carolina. Rep. Mark Sanford, a former two-term governor, lost his Republican primary to state Rep. Katie Arrington, who had blasted career conservative Sanford for being one of only five House Republicans to vote against an $827 billion bill that included $1.6 billion for President Donald Trump's cherished border wall. Sanford had angered Trump when the president was a candidate by publicly urging him to release (as he had repeatedly promised he would) his personal tax returns and advocating a more welcoming administration policy toward immigrants who were brought here illegally as children.

Chutzpah, which might be defined as a defendant found guilty of killing both of his parents daring to seek mercy from the judge on the grounds that he is now an orphan, begins to describe Trump's tweet endorsing Arrington and making it all personal: "Mark Sanford has been very unhelpful to me in my campaign to (make America great again). He is MIA and nothing but trouble. He is better off in Argentina." Here Trump, who has often publicly boasted about his nonmarital sexual conquests, raised hypocrisy to an art form by invoking then-Gov. Sanford's publicly admitted marriage-ending infidelities, which ended his national political prospects. Winner Arrington, who had campaigned against Sanford's differences with the president, gratefully pledged her fealty to the leader: "We are the party of Donald J. Trump."

This was South Carolina, where, in a 2016 primary debate, candidate Trump accused former President George W. Bush of lying about Iraqi weapons of mass destruction to take the country to war. ("They lied. They said there were weapons of mass destruction ... and they knew there were none.") In spite of the fact that there is video of the debate, Trump denied ever having said this. But this is the party of Donald J. Trump, and that chill causing Republican office seekers to shiver is the frost from the cowardly fear they have of offending their master. Where is the Republican Gene McCarthy?

Mark Shields is one of the most widely recognized political commentators in the United States. The former Washington Post editorial columnist appears regularly on CNN, on public television and on radio. Click here to contact him, or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

Support Noozhawk Today

You are an important ally in our mission to deliver clear, objective, high-quality professional news reporting for Santa Barbara, Goleta and the rest of Santa Barbara County. Join the Hawks Club today to help keep Noozhawk soaring.

We offer four membership levels: $5 a month, $10 a month, $25 a month or $1 a week. Payments can be made using a credit card, Apple Pay or Google Pay, or click here for information on recurring credit-card payments and a mailing address for checks.

Thank you for your vital support.

Become a Noozhawk Supporter

First name
Last name
Email
Select your monthly membership
Or choose an annual membership
×

Payment Information

Membership Subscription

You are enrolling in . Thank you for joining the Hawks Club.

Payment Method

Pay by Credit Card:

Mastercard, Visa, American Express, Discover
One click only, please!

Pay with Apple Pay or Google Pay:

Noozhawk partners with Stripe to provide secure invoicing and payments processing.
You may cancel your membership at any time by sending an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

  • Ask
  • Vote
  • Investigate
  • Answer

Noozhawk Asks: What’s Your Question?

Welcome to Noozhawk Asks, a new feature in which you ask the questions, you help decide what Noozhawk investigates, and you work with us to find the answers.

Here’s how it works: You share your questions with us in the nearby box. In some cases, we may work with you to find the answers. In others, we may ask you to vote on your top choices to help us narrow the scope. And we’ll be regularly asking you for your feedback on a specific issue or topic.

We also expect to work together with the reader who asked the winning questions to find the answer together. Noozhawk’s objective is to come at questions from a place of curiosity and openness, and we believe a transparent collaboration is the key to achieve it.

The results of our investigation will be published here in this Noozhawk Asks section. Once or twice a month, we plan to do a review of what was asked and answered.

Thanks for asking!

Click Here to Get Started >

Reader Comments

Noozhawk is no longer accepting reader comments on our articles. Click here for the announcement. Readers are instead invited to submit letters to the editor by emailing them to [email protected]. Please provide your full name and community, as well as contact information for verification purposes only.

Daily Noozhawk

Subscribe to Noozhawk's A.M. Report, our free e-Bulletin sent out every day at 4:15 a.m. with Noozhawk's top stories, hand-picked by the editors.

Sign Up Now >