McGoverning: Acknowledgments
This starts with everybody else. It's my TL like any other writer around here, but none of us would be here without the strength of community this place offers: the friends, the inspirations, the resources, the folks who read us and the folks we read, the artisans, the fixers, the buckers-up of insecure hopes, the folks who happen on your creative dream and think it's cool.

For the Test Threaders first of all, we happy not-so-few, and the bright, fierce little community that's grown up there in which the backstories and early visions of this project first found both an audience and friends. In among them is the trailblazer, the gifted and deservedly well-liked @Gorrister, whose clarity of vision about a POD caused this whole vast, glittering, ungainly creation, project of several years of abortive efforts, to launch without a quick drop like a stone. That bit where Bob Cratchit says "to the founder of the feast"? Yeah. Only without all the Scrooge baggage. Anyone who likes where this goes should thank him deeply, as I do, for the place it starts. And for all the other dear friends and faithful readers of abstruse footnotes and compendious lists that gave me the guts to try. Special thanks also for the graphics skills of @wolfram and @Gentleman Biaggi, proof again if any was needed that each new generation gets even better than the one before at working the cool new toys.

For the learned minds too, each person of whom I've asked subject-matter questions or bounced off ideas more or (hopefully) less laughable, and your generosity in the answers you've given. Thanks too, to the folks of whom I've only just started asking questions. There will be more to follow, believe me.

Last but most the special souls in meatspace; you know who you are.
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McGoverning: Introduction
A H TBTverse Title slide McGoverning.jpg


Bernstein and Woodward had, after all, traced a plot to sabotage the Democratic party
right into the inner sanctums of the White House. Yet somehow the Watergate affair failed to “sink in”;
its sinister implications never registered on the public’s imagination. A Gallup poll taken around the time
of the election found that 48 percent of the American public had never heard of the Watergate affair,
and most of the rest didn’t care about it.
- Timothy Crouse, The Boys on the Bus

The tragedy of this is that McGovern appeared to have a sure lock on the White House when the sun came up on Miami Beach on the morning of Thursday, July 13th. Since then he has crippled himself with a series of almost unbelievable blunders — Eagleton, Salinger, O’Brien, etc. — that have understandably convinced huge chunks of the electorate, including at least half of his own hard-core supporters, that The Candidate is a gibbering dingbat. His behavior since Miami has made a mockery of everything he seemed to stand for in the primaries.

…George McGovern, for all his mistakes and all his imprecise talk about “new politics” and “honesty in government” is one of the few men who’ve run for President of the United States in this century who really understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country could have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon.

McGovern made some stupid mistakes, but in context they seem almost frivolous compared to the things Richard Nixon does every day of his life, on purpose, as a matter of policy and a perfect expression of everything he stands for.

Jesus! Where will it end? How low do you have to stoop in this country to be President?
- Hunter S. Thompson,
Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72

The whole campaign was a tragic case of mistaken identity.
- George McGovern

I come from deeply Republican stock in conservative South Dakota. Only years of study as a student of history finally convinced me that the Democratic Party was by and large a little more dedicated to the average citizen’s interest than the Republican Party. My half-dozen political heroes continue to this day to include such Republicans as Abraham Lincoln, George Norris and Robert La Follette. Among the Democrats, Franklin Roosevelt, Thomas Jefferson and Woodrow Wilson stand the tallest. I do not consider any of these men “leftists.”

I ran for the presidency in 1972 not to capture the Democratic Party for "the left" or for any other faction. I ran to rally as many people as possible to demand that a senseless war be ended in Vietnam before it ruined our country as well as Southeast Asia. I ran in support of a fairer tax code. I ran on behalf of curbing an arms race that threatens to destroy both our fiscal integrity and our national security. I ran to replace an irrational welfare system with one that could be efficiently and fairly administered through the tax code.

These are not left-wing ideas. They are down-to-earth, common-sense propositions that could lead to a happier, more secure and more prosperous nation. Some members of the press as well as some political opponents worked overtime to paint my campaign in ridiculous terms. Thus it came as a surprise to many people when, campaigning on essentially the same concepts in 1984, I appeared to be talking sense and demonstrating that after all I was a pretty level-headed fellow.
-George McGovern, “’The Left’? What Left?”
Washington Post, Oct. 8, 1985

Welcome to McGoverning. Let me tell you a little about how we got here.

Sometimes, by accident or fancy, we see a little way into another world, real as ours but… elsewhere. For a denizen of alternate history, who likes to dust off the lost possibilities of human experience, it’s a rare delight to stare right at an object that’s walked right out of such a world. Except for the title of this work, that opening image was not the product of someone’s deft hand with a pixel or two and some graphics software. It was made of ink and paper back when it paid to be careful even in the most unlikely cases. As the principled, troubled McGovern campaign stared calmly at its doom, and every reputable pollster in the United States told whoever wanted to know that the election of 1972 was settled in advance, no one wanted to get caught out by chance. Senior editors of that era’s print media, slaves to the schedule of pressing out news you could hold in your hand in time for their markets, had been young men when the everlasting gaffe “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” was burned into their brains. They swore there would never be another screwup like that; this cover was a product of that vow, a little something tucked in the back pocket just in case.

The lithographers only ever made three copies of this exercise in alternate history. One moldered somewhere in Newsweek’s own archive, ready to use but never needed, a reed held up into the tidal wave of prohibitive odds that was November 1972. One was given to correspondent Peter Greenberg, who had covered McGovern’s campaign for Newsweek before he went on to greater things. Greenberg kept his copy and even displayed it at times with a wistful fondness, as remembrance of what was not to be. The third copy went to Senator McGovern himself. The senator framed his, and it passed on at his death either to his archival papers or his surviving heirs. Neither Greenberg’s copy nor McGovern’s was donated formally. Instead Newsweek employees gifted those themselves, in the same spirit as a case of beer given in 1980 by British military advisers in Oman to weary survivors of the doomed American rescue mission in Iran with the note “To You All from Us All, For Having the Guts to Try.”

For alternate-historians, as among the regular kind, the 1972 election we know so well — the currents and events of what the allohistorical often call “OTL,” Our Time Line — exists as a quixotic curiosity. It sits in its pocket of the past a little forlorn, a point of fact that helps define and ratify other years’ potential side roads and exceptions. There was a wildness abroad in American politics through the Sixties and Seventies, perhaps the Eighties as well, that yields many other points to depart for altered timestreams, yet 1972 seems to resist most nudges. Big tampering can work: you can use different candidates, different plans hatched by that warped and bitter and armed young man Arthur Bremer, different nominees (in the alternate-reality allegory Fear, Loathing, and Gumbo a certain former governor of Louisiana cut quite a wake through the eddies of the possible.) But majority logic holds that you need to swing a big damn hammer to get ‘72 out of joint. Dabble in the familiar and, with port-and-cigars assurance — with what one stage-left player in the sad little drama, John Kenneth Galbraith, would call conventional wisdom — you hear that even on the raggedy edge of chaos theory sometimes things happen as they do for a reason. So it is the Year of Fear and Loathing stands pat against rash fancies that it might ever be a place where you could move a world.

But what if it was? What we presume to know about it is exactly what the whole Nixon machine, from the palatine heights of the White House to crenelated Madison Avenue ad firms and the marbled halls of the Federal Reserve, fought with bloodsoaked tooth and claw to ensure. We see the conflict in Southeast Asia recede. We read the staggering GDP numbers after the recession of ‘71. We watch the stunning summer collapse of the breakneck McGovern campaign into ever decreasing circles of self-defeat, the relentless and strangely soothing logic of Nixon's reelection campaign that helped define the warped, self-justifying phrase “on message.” And we think how obvious it is. How clear the elements. How sure the end.

Moments — in the fires of their brevity, in the now — rebel against the tidiness of memory. We know all those things as they played out. But we also know when we look with care beneath that cold hard surface of certainty that the year was a packed grenade of wild chance. It threatened more than once to burst, to tear through American life with its shards. Primary voters, fed up with the political establishment, bounced wildly back and forth between George McGovern and George Wallace as instruments to “shake things up.” Economic populism strained on its halter for a while both those men raised the West Wing’s blood pressure with promises that they actually would redistribute the nation’s wealth. Despite all the delegates and momentum the ragtag rebels of McGovernism brought with them to the Democratic National Convention, the campaign’s control of actual votes on the floor was so frail that its staffers thrashed blindly into the catastrophe of the Eagleton nomination for the vice presidency in a rash effort to stem Miami’s chaos before it swamped them. When the Republicans came to town a month later an army of cops and soldiery made camp around them. The GOP's Miami organizers feared a mass of countercultural riot and rebellion, while the longhairs feared the truncheon-swingers would seize on that paranoia and declare for a police state.

There were fragile certainties beyond the campaign trail, too. Behind the lullabies sung to suburbanites at Henry Kissinger’s press conferences, the “Paris process” to settle the fate of Vietnam threatened to spiral out of control. Even in the story we know it almost defied Nixon’s efforts to mask the fact the Accords offered neither peace nor honor in the eyes of his own core voters if you took them into the light to see. There was no guarantee the deliberate overheating of the economy staged by Nixon’s pliant Fed chairman Arthur Burns would wait until December or January before it went south. Both of the fall campaigns sat on secrets of devastating political effect: a scandal of cultural norms and public morals in the do-gooder McGovern’s past, and a Nixonian breach of American law to the edge of treason that dragged out the war he had won the presidency with promises to end. If the unstable, vicious young narcissist named Arthur Bremer had shown more brains and nerve on his Nixon-hunting trip to Ottawa in the spring, the whole country might have faced the nightmare of an Agnew-versus-Wallace contest in November. Nixon may have built his landslide on a foundation of steel, but it had a razor’s edge.

And always, always, there was the Nixon machine itself. The devil’s own engine of American politics, a self-justifying, self-destroying deus ex machina built in the terrible fires of Richard Nixon’s soul, made not just whole but byzantine as it drew to it like something out of Tolkien kindred spirits who together spun plots and tricks and lies to the nation and each other, who fucked rats and patsies and opponents, hatched plots and rumors of plots and boasts of plots and crimes layered over one another with no system or regard, only the appetites of each player in the mob to reckon by. It was a device of self-corruption and self-destruction the likes of which American politics has rarely seen. It grew so vast and wild in its raging that it even showed its face in this predictable, inevitable year. At first that face was so alien, so hard to fathom in its ugliness, that the smooth, reassuring narrative spooled out by Nixon’s ad men to the pool reporters glazed eyes around the country while the mantra that everyone does it swung attention back to the sheer learned haplessness of the McGovern campaign. So the hell-fueled engine thundered on a little longer before the country choked on its pall. But there was no reason, no governing law over slew of the battle to reelect Dick Nixon that made sure it would turn out that way.

This is a story that bends that moment of 1972, that spreads out and grows in its difference enough to build a world of interrelated changes from the one we know. Can we get away with that? Yes, just not easily. Alternate history loves the “Butterfly Effect” but if there are Butterflies there are also Trends. Some of those hefty bastards bind our own 1972 and this place to depart — the American presidential election — in mighty cables. So, difficult, yes — possible just the same. There’s a way. The path is narrow, and twisty, easily thrown askew and about as well paved as the skin of your teeth. But this can be done. The tale from here takes that path. It sets up a wild but central conceit that ripples over time, space, and culture to some corners pretty far from home: a McGovern presidency.

What does that net us? That’s where it gets interesting. Working out what you get for your trouble is alternate history’s whole reward system, after all. Many people at the time had very firm ideas of what kind of world that might be: definite, polar, and opposed in the most fundamental ways. So much so they have colored generations of reflection as even people who were there warped their own plumb-line on reality with confirmation bias and self-distorted supposition. On one hand, you had people who believed as sure as the life in their next breath that George McGovern Would Save America, that the nation would stop struck by awe on its road to Damascus, turn from wrongs and prejudice and war-mongering greed to a very specific and particular set of ideals on which everyone would suddenly agree, that the Youth of Today would build justice and equity leaving the citizens of the American Dream to stand hand in hand as brothers while Fifth Dimension cover bands paraded the nation’s avenues singing Let The Sun Shine In. On the other hand you had millions more who believed that McGovern was at best too nice (and by definition, weak) to be President, all the way to those who thought the limp-wristed hippie lover would torch the American economy, humiliate us in Vietnam, spit on American ideals of courage and self-reliance, and rearm the police with wet pasta noodles as ravenous thugs roamed the burning streets while he handed the launch codes to Moscow. Both sides missed all the fun.

This story may be a curious animal. It is an effort to use what never was to rescue the real. It does not seek the climes of satire, or allegory, or even just a ripping yarn although some exciting things will happen because they do even in the world we call the real one. Wherever it can, this means to be — as much as an author ever really controls the story they tell — an exercise in “hard alternate history.” That describes a style in the vein of “hard sci-fi” and “hard fantasy” that seek most of all to be plausible, to shape a fantastic landscape out of the good, common clay of what we can reckon. There might be magic at work, but it has consistent rules we can understand. Grand things, horrific things, dramatic things, and unlikely things will happen, because that’s what they do in our own world, but no more often than we see around us and the world will soon enough pull them back into a weft of plausibility. Even what many people would call the most outrageous chance in the whole deal here, a McGovern presidency itself, gets to its destination on tracks as stolidly likely (and sometimes downright rickety with chance) as I can lay them.

It also takes off and goes from there. Many timelines in the craft of alternate history, good ones — brilliant ones — focus on a single subject or discrete set of moments. If the author gets far enough off his duff to get all the work done over the next few years, this will span forty years. It goes from the subtle points where it starts all the way to the conveniently-timed passing of the man whose unlikely arrival in the White House ties the whole thing together, not far from where he parted company with us in the real world. Forty years is a good long time if you want to get into the weeds, so this will cover a few "volumes," or at least a big chunk of central conceit and some tasty after-parties in print. It spreads out over topics and continents, too, because the author has a generalist’s heart. Even this first one has restless feet and wants constantly to exceed narrow American politics for a tour of the Seventies' horizon, a tour that reads like it happened but ... changed.

I start here for a reason. Some of that is personal connection. Our story kicks off as I wait physically to be born. Even if that birthday gets a little wibbly-wobbly in the stress of change I’ll guarantee that inside the first two thousand words or so of the first chapter there I am, in Alta Bates Hospital in the East Bay, California, wiggling and squalling. But it’s also more than that. These are the years, by my own view of things, when much of the world we live in was born as well. So it's these conditions, this confluence, from which we depart. From there, well, the results go all over the place. We are not at home to Mister Narrow. The results may surprise: from the microcomputer revolution to Catholic Church politics, from the Assad regime in Syria to the fortunes of the Walt Disney empire, from party-building in the American South to economic revolutions in the Indian Subcontinent, from punk rock to nuclear proliferation, it is a strange and surprising thing to watch the ripples flow from that first blow. This unfamiliar Seventies is a chance to know more about the one we actually had.

With that buried lede I want to raise again the matter of realism. The best fantasies are some of our most realistic fiction. “Literary realism” takes the world we know and peoples it with contrived humans,. The best fantasists, on the other hand, weave altered worlds then drop real souls in them, where they behave in the fresh landscape as real souls would. That’s the goal here. Things change, but Things change. People don’t stop being themselves (at least the ones already born when we start.) Perhaps we can understand more about who they are or were, how we got to the milestones of our own world, by living a while in a different place where we can reconnect with those we know through their alternate lives. History at its most raw is the chance to pierce the veils of death and entropy and touch the thousands of generations of other humans who have been enough like us for us to understand. Or at least, like the one baby turtle among many the philosopher picks up and saves on the beach, a few at a time. Really alternate history is the cat’s pajamas, so let’s get on with it. Welcome to town.

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McGoverning: Prologue

Let it burn, said the voice in the head of the man in glasses.

The man in glasses sat, his mind afire, in the deadened calm of a Washington side street, behind the wheel of a used 1968 Ford Falcon paid for cash-on-the-nail with a bum’s name. He sat, marked time, and waited to burn down America in order to save it.

In his bespectacled mind this would be a purifying flame. It had grown more pure, steadily, over the months since he was shuffled outside the door, moved out of the rhythm of the inner circle, the presence of the man himself. Of course he had to do something. You didn’t stand still with a war on, though the war that consumed his days and his efforts was not the one against the Communists. There were plenty of good men committed to that already. It was the other war that fired him, the one against the rude seething tide of pinkos, of longhairs and blacks and spics and Jews, street scum and pampered cowards, and the coy establishment types who smoothed the horde's way even on the evening news. All aimed at the best President the nation had ever had, for whom the man in glasses committed what was his own last measure of devotion.

In the face of this conflict one could not rest and he certainly didn’t. He’d gone to the doctor to see to that the better part of a year ago and since then,the fire had… grown more focused. He felt he understood it better now, even in the jittering moments before the pills kicked in — the right ones, all that street stuff was for the other side, that foul tide across the blood-dimmed line. Uppers on the other hand were tools of the trade, had been since the war, and the guys who got the job done understood how to ride them, let them bring things to clarity at the critical moment.

Or so it seemed. So it seemed to the man in glasses in the unmarked Falcon, who waited for a package he had crammed into the dustbin down the long hall that spanned the ground floor to do its thing. To him this was the true war, the thing that socialist Orwell had gotten right about rough men who did what had to be done so ordinary people could sleep safe. He had always believed that but it became clearer once he got out of the whirl of the inner circle, once there was time enough to hate the other side properly. And, in the circuity of an election year as he piled on the effort and piled the pills on to the effort because this was all worth so much more than one man’s sleep, it grew more certain that he’d been right all along. Not because he was a bright guy, though he had the self-assurance to think so. But because the President had thought it all up himself. Thought it up, and then when the man in the Falcon had the wit and the stomach to act that scared little rabbit John Dean ran all the way across the country to San Clemente to get it called off.

The flaw, the man in glasses had realized later in a coruscating rush of black coffee and amphetamines, was not the plan. It was the scope. He had thought too small, too small for the President’s interests, too small for the fight they waged. Now he had brought it all into focus, one plan, indivisible, that would burn down the pious falsehoods on the other side and prove their treachery in the light of day, where real Americans could see. One grand strike here, where he would do a commander’s job in a war and take the burden of the main effort for the sake of his men, plus the silent strike by Liddy and McCord and their Cubans down at the river. One bomb, two offices, and all the dirty laundry the other side had massed in secret to bring the President down scooped up that very night. In one stroke — the line from Goldfinger had occurred to him at some point, “Operation Grand Slam.” That’s what it was, one very grand slam. He doubled up the dose with a chaser from a six-pack of Coca-Cola, mostly drunk already in the waiting, then checked his watch—

Too soon; no matter. Later, in a different place, he would piece the elements together and consider that it probably was what those Jewish shrinks called a Freudian slip, his desire to be ready before the moment had translated to his hands when he set the timer in a whirl of preparation and paranoia and fierce, clawing energy. Now it meant that the overpacked firebomb he had built over weeks, with the patience of an artisan, blew the doors, and the windows, and the whole damn front entrance fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. From the car the blast was… freeing. As though the world were a balloon made of white heat and it popped, with force that sucked in his cheeks, beat his ears funny while the raw fire surged down his throat from his nose, all the way from across the wide neoclassical avenue. As he exited the car he stepped involuntarily back from the heat for a moment, lost in sheer sensation, before the adrenaline rush that the bennies were there to focus kicked in. Now it was time to work the plan.

He ran in and to the right, where punched-open windows waited. Glasses aside he was not the most gainly man for the job, lanky limbs battened on to a short torso paunched a little in the middle that always made him look a little like a funhouse mirror’s version of himself. But he forced himself up on the frame of the first floor, shoe leather jigsawed by glass, then used those gangling arms to grab the frame on the second floor and pulled, hard. For a moment the wild dangle seemed to crush his chest but he pulled up, the blood roaring in the waves of heat and acrid haze. There was a purity, it seemed, to everything now that he could actually do what he had planned, dreamed of, pushed for, believed in, ever since the man in the big chair first said those three words, “blow the safe.” Simpler than that, really, you just had to figure out what office and what time. Then it was training, and waiting. Just like a soldier.

That will to hash out the details over and over as he cycled up on each dose seemed to pay off in the moment. Through the flourishing cloud of fume he knew what halls to run down, what door to find. When he did he pounded the door open with one kick after another from a long foot until it gave way. In the background, the nearest ladder company of the District of Columbia Fire Department screamed along the bedded-down drizzle of Massachusetts Avenue. But their Doppler wail was not more than a hint in the mind of the man with glasses askew, drenched in sweat, dressed like an accountant and running with great bundled manila folders he believed would hold the answers to all the leader of the Free World’s problems. Nothing mattered now except to get away. Run. Not where to run. Not how long it might take to reckon where the best exit lay. Not whether there was clear air enough to fuel this awkward hurtle out the business end of a building on fire. Not whether the professionals who beat flame back from a vulnerable city might have the wit to cordon the site with their big engines of red metal. No need for such fancy thoughts now. There was just the giddy hormonal stream of victory and running, as the man in glasses lit with firelight hurtled forward on the jagged edge of self-belief. They’d never see.

It took barely a minute and forty seconds for him to learn different, not too long after his loping, vaporous stride brought him clear of the blast zone. He saw just enough from the corner of his vision to wonder why someone else ran just as hard as he did, why their paths might cross, what reason one of those goddamn blacks might have to be dressed up in a fireman’s red helmet and one of those big black cloaks that weighed a ton, all of which bore down on him like the cruel victory over will and grandiosity enjoyed by reason and time.

Then the world exploded. More even than the first blast of flame. There was now no up anywhere, just the fierce dumb power of the ground. Papers flew across both the sidewalk and the parking spots along the cross street, while the man with glasses who ran saw with the frozen clarity of the fight-or-flight instinct that those glasses skittered along the asphalt like a dropped tool down a skyscraper. As the dimensions of the world returned he tried to look through a burning eye around the numbness of his own face, just enough to sense the dampness was probably blood not the casual shower of an hour ago, and that his cheekbone was probably cracked all the way down GET THIS GODDAMN BASTARD OFF ME!

“ ‘the hell’s this firebug?” asked a second fireman, a white guy with a mustache and nine years on the job, who ran up to join his comrade.

“Dunno,” said the first fireman. “Go get that beat cop that came up from Eighteenth and Mass.” His voice hardened. “Let’s find out.”

As the tumult of reality crashed in on the once-running, once-bespectacled man’s clarity of purpose, and as a fireman wrenched the wallet out of his pants pocket, he shrieked with piss and rage. “GET YOUR GODDAMN HANDS OFF ME!” smacked off the brick and concrete of the buildings to echo back above the engines’ wail. Then the little packet of leather and truth was passed to a man in blue, a man with a nightstick and a badge who the man spiraling down from the dreams of victory closed up tight in a used Ford Falcon knew in his heart should be on his side, goddammit, his side….

The policeman spoke.

“Charles Colson. So who’re you, Charles Colson, to be running from that?” he asked, as a cobalt-blue sleeved arm and mahogany hand gestured vaguely at the wall of smoke that had been the Brookings Institution behind them.

Let it burn? It had already started.
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And that's it for now. If the weekend ahead (with two distinct birthday celebrations for one of the Non-Zero Number of Daughters) proves less busy than I think Chapter 1 will go up then and begin a regular (fingers crossed) schedule of posting chapters at the end of the weekend. If not, it will absolutely be the week after. But for now that's to look forward to. Consider this a taster.
I am literally quivering with anticipation.


Oh. Oh boy.
That's about what it feels like on my end. Though possibly for different reasons *looks at list of self-imposed deadlines*.

Awesome start! Can't wait for Chapter 1
Thank you! Looking forward to more electoral carnage in Run First myself :)

It begins!
*Dean Scream*

By the way, love the Casual reference to one of the greatest movie series ever.
Bond fandom has a demography diverse enough to surprise many people. But these guys definitely fall into at least two of its subsets: Liddy and McCord and Hunt and such are the kewl kids who like to joke that they do the real stuff, while guys like Colson are beta males (not at the bottom of the pack, but always subordinate to the boss) with intense dominance fantasies. That popping Benzedrine like a Pez dispenser might cause one to act on such fantasies -- who knew?

How the hell did Nixon beat this guy?
Well, nobody actually watched that speech because he didn't start it until 2:48.
Asked and answered. And it was the anarchic voice voting for the VP spot that did it after Eagleton was announced as the nominee. Just how catastrophic the whole Eagleton mess turned out to be cannot be overstated. It really was like a Freudian act of self-negation by all concerned, including McGovern who agonized so deeply over it he just couldn't pull the fucking trigger on one decision or the other for much too long. It turned -- given other conditions as per OTL -- a Goldwater loss, a beating that looked less bad in retrospect and might change a party's direction, into a Mondale/Landon-level loss of pure suck. Very good holistic pollsters -- folks who looked at multiple cross-cutting inputs on poll numbers from economic stats to zip codes to identity politics -- have remarked often over the years that even in the box Nixon hemmed him into, McGovern underperformed his base vote by nearly three points. A little of that was Mountain and Pacific time zone voters who'd seen the race called already and didn't bother. Most of it was Eagleton. And late-decider, low-information types, absolutely no chance after "a thousand percent." Poor George, and even poor ol' Bob Shrum (of "Come Home America" and "The Dream Will Never Die"), that rude disorder ruined their timing was the story of the cycle.

Yeah, if I were Haldeman, I'd tell Nixon to throw Colson under the bus and run him over. Repeatedly...
Haldeman is waiting to see just how whacked out Colson really was, and what the Plumbers will cop to, before he makes that much noise. In the meanwhile he's measuring the axle gage on the Number 54 downtown express for John Mitchell just in case.

Oh, yes. I can't wait for this this to continue.
Than you. That means a lot.

The twists and turns have just started, many an anxious moment ahead just in the first three chapters, before we even broaden our sights beyond American politics.

Also, I would like to take a moment to put in a special word for a couple of much-loved fellow test-threaders. In the spirit of the admonition Let A Thousand Georges Bloom (taken directly from Frank Mankiewicz's Little Book of Oy With the Pool Reporters Already), I want to lay down some advance patter for a Wikibox TL that @Oppo and @Bulldoggus have in the works. It crosses the same opening terrain as this TL but these dapper young gents are ... significantly less bound by self-imposed standards of plausibility. Which is a good thing, it takes all sorts. If you want to fly your Freak Power flag real damn high, get on down to their shop when it opens and buy what they're sellin'. Coming soon!

ETA: And how can I not plug a TL underway right now, in this very forum, that follows the later (OTL-based) career of a guy who will be very busy in those chapters and others, @Meyer London and @Gentleman Biaggi's You've Got to Have Hart?
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Indiana Beach Crow

Monthly Donor
I usually don't like to quote blocks of text from other posters, but this is just too perfect to only be shown once on this website:

Yes said:
And always, always, there was the Nixon machine itself. The devil’s own engine of American politics, a self-justifying, self-destroying deus ex machina built in the terrible fires of Richard Nixon’s soul, made not just whole but byzantine as it drew to it like something out of Tolkien kindred spirits who together spun plots and tricks and lies to the nation and each other, who fucked rats and patsies and opponents, with plots and rumors of plots and boasts of plots and crimes layered over one another with no system or regard, only the appetites of each player in the mob to reckon by. It was a device of self-corruption and self-destruction the likes of which American politics has rarely seen

One of the best and most poetic descriptions of the Nixon White House I've ever read.