McGoverning

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Yes, Jan 2, 2018.

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  1. Gonzo Grumpy Poujadist Norn Person

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    Béal Feirste, Tuaisceart Éireann
    Primetime in Guam.
     
  2. CountDVB Dual Emperor of the Aztech and Maychanical Empires

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    Aug 26, 2017
    Let’s hope the calamities Of Nixon don’t happen, such as the War on Drugs. Massive waste of time, manpower and resources...

    Hopefully, we still get an EPA
     
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  3. Usili Carry On Wayward Son

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    Aug 9, 2012
    Nice to see this finally started @Yes!

    Can't wait to see where this goes fully. :D
     
  4. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    Thanks! The tangled web will carry on in the weaving for a while yet, after doing some work on later chapters with a broader topical or global view it's been fun to get back into the guts of Watergate. Especially as we live in the midst of Watergate: The Dunning-Kruger Boogaloo (Bannon, as usual the functional idiot in a room full of the brain-damaged, has gotten it right already -- it's the money laundering wot done it....)

    I'm honored. Truly. Your high opinion is a great compliment. I tend to think it's a bit overwrought but in my defense I was reading more than the casual user's dosage of Hunter S. Thompson at the time I cranked that out.

    Indeed. The rotating bomber crews on LINEBACKER I could watch on their off shift. Irony cuts to the bone. Especially since a few of them would probably have nodded their heads in agreement.

    The EPA's up and running as of late 1970 so we're good but that's a legitimate issue. (It makes no nevermind to spoilers for me to say the events of the Prologue take place right at the start of June in '72.) Indeed there will be more attention to environmental issues (this becomes A Thing over time, but my own inclination to see McGovern as the last Progressive standing, as much or more than he ever was a conventional New Deal Democrat, will be reflected in environmental themes) which will bring commensurate push back that he's choked the life out of valuable industries, THEY TOOK ER JAAAAAAHHHHHBS, etc. Remember Obama Derangement Syndrome? Yeah. Get ready for a stiff dose of the same batch. Likewise a federal War on Drugs is not likely, except in desultory pieces out of the Congress, but the "laboratories of democracy" in the states may have to pick up steam to compensate. Remember it was Nelson Rockefeller himself, king of government-friendly paternalism in the GOP, who passed the New York state drug laws that set the template for the whole War on Drugs game. Even Reagan out in CA was playing catch-up with Rocky. Butterflies but also Trends: there are some elemental forces out there, especially tied to the combination of deep-seated American racism and the sincerely real bow wave of violent crime that roared up out of the Sixties, that will need somewhere to go. It just won't be White House meetings with Elvis handing out drug-agent badges....

    Thanks, old friend. That means quite a lot. Watch out for those Ohio politicians, too ;)
     
  5. Temeraire Well-Known Member

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    Jan 18, 2017
    Very interesting. The prologue was great, the opening better. I particularly liked the story behind the actually-made McGovern Time cover. Watched with anticipation.
     
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  6. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    Between real life (feh, amirite?), rewrites, and a rejiggering of chapter structures, it has taken a bit. But, McGoverning is back... in Thunderball! No, really. Look below for the goods, with more to follow by the weekend, and a good steady rate for a couple of weeks thereafter before any possible hitch. Welcome back, folks.
     
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  7. Threadmarks: McGoverning: Chapter 1

    Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    Location:
    The Shire, somewhere in Cascadia
    A Third-Rate Break In?



    Reflecting on the meaning of the last presidential election, I have decided… Mr. Nixon’s
    landslide victory and my overwhelming defeat will probably prove of greater value to the
    nation than the victory my supporters and I worked so hard to achieve…. The shattering
    Nixon landslide, and the even more shattering exposure of the corruption that surrounded
    him, have done more than I could have done in victory to awaken the nation…. This is not
    a comfortable conclusion for a self-confident — some would say self righteous — politician
    to reach….


    - George McGovern, Washington Post, Aug. 12, 1973





    Nothing became Chuck Colson’s criminal career like its collapse. The sole personal deed in that grandiose failure was an actual, physical blaze though not very glorious. The coordinated effort to defeat Richard Nixon’s enemies with a single criminal stroke reflected not the mind of a man corrupted by the secret culture of paranoia and dirty tricks around the incumbent President, but rather one who dove in eager and devoted. Now he was caught, once the giddy, broken rush of his effort to both ransack and burn down the Brookings Institute subsided, Colson in his loyalist’s heart was very much ready to face his accusers. Indeed he needed to talk about it all. About his own part in the plan. About how he’d jumped the gun with a Freudian slip on the bomb’s timer. About how that caused the tandem break-in at Democratic Party headquarters in the Watergate Complex down by the Potomac to fall prey to a guard who’d listened in on reports of the Brookings fire on the radio before he double-checked the building. About why this had happened. About what “Tex” Colson and his ragtag band of Nixonian heroes hoped to achieve. He told anyone who asked at DC central booking, in the interview room and out, with the fierce detail of conviction. Egomania and Benzedrine could do that to a fellow.

    Almost before the smoke had cleared, with the relentless boxer’s energy out of their corner the Nixon White House always showed, the administration sought to distance and label. With his usual talent for telling the truth by inversion, Nixon’s pasty robot of a press secretary Ron Ziegler called the whole tawdry, scary business a “third-rate burglary.” The banquet where Ziegler could eat those words stretched out across the decades. In the moment, however, in rare synchronicity, the captive White House press corps and their demon lover in the West Wing shared a common question: how the hell had someone as connected as Chuck Colson gone so far off the deep end?

    Colson was long past halfway to criminal conspiracy when the drugs took hold. Indeed he’d worked towards the same plan, minus the DNC angle, the year before. Then that other conspirator deep in the West Wing John Dean had feared Colson’s rashness would give the game away and flew, in body and spirit, to San Clemente to tell Nixon what the hatchet man was up to. The effect of that act, besides the schism it formed between Dean and Colson, already suspicious of the purity of John Dean’s intentions, took a few months to unwind. But unwind it did. As winter approached and the machinery geared up for the re-election of Richard Nixon, Dean’s star began to rise. Meanwhile, as White House Chief of Staff Bob Haldeman, the strong right hand of Dick, looked to the disposition of the West Wing so as to minimize risk, it began to seem like a good thing if they lowered Chuck Colson’s profile.

    So, from the Office of Public Liaison, where Colson sat in with the President regularly, helped gin up the Hard Hat Riot in New York, and abetted a war on drug dealing that conveniently set minorities and leftists in the firing line, all of a sudden Colson found himself sent to Coventry, or at least to be counsel in John Ehrlichman’s Domestic Affairs office. Public Liaison went to a more polished figure — more of a boy scout, Haldeman said with an untypical smile — a young West Wing lawyer named Egil Krogh. Colson soldiered on in a grim, quiet slide towards obscurity.


    That, though, was not a state Colson meant to stay in for long. There was work to do, and loyalty to prove, and it would take every minute Colson had. So it was he first made his way to his physician who wrote the prescription for a driven man's drug of choice, vetted by the Second World War and talked over in easy conversation by the kind of hard-edged operatives with whom Colson wanted fraternity. And as Colson poured in hour after hour, usually a good eighteen in a working day, all of which continued to impress the dour Ehrlichman, it was only a matter of time until a chance appeared. That came as the election plan institutionalized itself through the Committee to Re-elect the President. The CRP, called “CREEP” both by its political enemies and its bureaucratic rivals elsewhere in the Nixon machine, was a swelling affair, lubricated with millions in sketchy campaign contributions and manned by some of the most driven and… flexible figures to work for the President. Like the Prodigal’s father, only “Tex” Colson could love them all.

    And he did, and the chance to fight the real fight again, which he felt almost compelled to do as little by little it took more Benzedrine to keep the edge for as long as he sought. The shadow side of the CRP brought in some real “characters” and Colson grew ever closer to the most committed and expansive men who swam in the deep waters of the CRP slush fund — dairy money, mostly, of all things — who had names to conjure with like Liddy, and Segretti, and Hunt. Colson as ever was an ideas man, and something of an impresario in the Silent Majority’s secret service, and quickly — or not, since he worked eighteen-hour days for the most part — drew together an organization designed to undertake every dirty job the campaign needed done. From pranks and frauds to intelligence ops, bugging offices, and other black-bag jobs, Colson built an edifice of malfeasance worthy of the paranoid, driven man behind the Resolute Desk.

    Ehrlichman himself saw how Colson rose up phoenix-like in the works of the campaign, and decided that besides his general role as a director of operations, Colson should have personal command of a “Special Investigations Unit” designed to plug leaks in the campaign, and start them in others’. With a role like that, the nickname “the Plumbers” did not follow far behind. So it was that, as the primaries picked up steam and chaos reigned where Colson’s men sowed it, while two very different Georges — McGovern and Wallace — made waves and Richard Nixon obsessed over the thought that his past sins sabotaging the Paris Talks in the autumn of 1968 would come back to haunt him, as the pills multiplied, as Colson’s vision tunneled into a vivid sense that any able Democrat would torch the country and their treasonous leaks of facts about Vietnam must be stopped, paranoia became plans and plans became policy. Then, by the end of May, what had nearly happened a year before came to fruition. And when drug-addled exultation gave way to the light of day and the smoking hulk of the Brookings Institution, Colson wanted to talk about it.

    The other Plumbers, however, didn’t. They kept their mouths shut, took pride that they were trained to do just that, and watched the eddies of secret Washington swirl around them. Those eddies stank from the headwater: first Nixon asked John Ehrlichman what the goddamn hell Chuck Colson thought he was playing at and who’d been stupid enough to tell him he should go ahead. Ehrlichman shrugged and said no one, we can be very clear this didn’t come out of the building, as they called the West Wing of the White House. This was CRP’s deal and Colson was good at it, but he’d cracked up somehow. (No one mentioned the pills; one man’s addiction was another’s prescribed consolation.) That was bad, but not necessarily fatal. Colson's spiral had been not only downward but inward, so with some footwork and readiness to sacrifice lower-level employees (never in short supply around the Nixon White House) Colson’s own loose tongue might screen “the building” with tales of CREEP derring-do.

    If that failed, or threatened to, then the relentless, steel-lined minds of Richard Nixon and Bob Haldeman, nudged forward in a couple of meetings by the feral skittering of John Dean, proposed a two-front strategy. Several of the crew picked up down at the Watergate Complex were Cuban, with ties to the Central Intelligence Agency and its shadow army of reactionary Cuban exiles strewn from South America to Africa. The first step, then, was to lean on the Agency, whose relations with the Nixon White House had always been somewhat fraught. Langley would get the message that Dick Nixon knew where the bodies were buried, too, and if the CIA wanted them not to be dug up it would be good to put a flurry of paperwork in front of any domestic investigation of these two incidents.

    This had mixed results. One one hand Langley had its own parochial reasons to make the FBI and related agencies play by the CIA’s rules as they processed the Cuban “Plumbers.” On the other the institutional CIA, led in large part by its deputy director Lt. Gen. Vernon Walters, one of the grand old men of American espionage and covert diplomacy, was unmoved by West Wing attempts at damage control. Walters in particular played a strong hunch from the very start that all this went much farther up the Nixonian chain of command, and much further into the inner workings of its paranoid gestalt, than anyone the likes of John Dean or Bob Haldeman wanted to say. Walters would look out for Agency interests and slow down questioning of the Cubans for a few weeks — Liddy and McCord resolutely refused to talk to anyone as petty as a Special Agent in Charge — but he was not in the business of cleaning up the President’s personal messes. He made this very clear. He’d had a good run. Retirement did not look bad to a man with thirty years at the top levels of the game.

    The other front for the White House was more direct. L. Patrick Gray, acting head of the FBI and the second such since the death of America’s secret policeman J. Edgar Hoover, was a man in a difficult position even before “Tex” Colson burned out the hallways of the top foreign policy think tank in town, or a bunch of would-be James Bonds bungled a black-bag job at Democratic Party headquarters. Now Gray found himself pinned between mighty forces. There was the institutional memory of the Bureau which had gotten up to all kinds of suspect acts in Hoover’s time and tended to see these characters as loose cannons but on the right side. There were the expectations of a White House obsessed even more than most with national security and a sense of struggle against enemies within. And there was Gray's obligation to keep the Bureau’s profile clean in the public eye, to see to it this mess was tidied up in the light of day. These were too many priorities at once for a man who, despite his wartime heroics as a submariner, had a deeply nervous disposition in the presence of his political betters.

    He would have problems closer to home as well, with his deputy director Mark Felt. Felt believed he’d been passed over in favor of a Nixon flunky through Gray’s appointment as boss. Felt was old-school FBI. He had worked within the Hoover system and done his share of illegal wiretaps and questionable evidence gathering. But he also had a sense of the larger rules on which the system depended if it was to function. As Felt took the measure of Gray, it looked to him like the acting director was a weak reed under the Nixon administration’s boot. Collusion now without the nation’s puppetmaster, J. Edgar, there to protect the Agency might doom the whole institution.

    But all that was in the future. For now, as Colson spun his tales to Metro detectives and FBI special agents, Gray latched gratefully on to the part of the story that had nothing to do with plumbing or West Wing employees. There were plenty of secret operations underway in the CRP’s backrooms and basements, and one in particular had caught first Colson’s eye in retrospection, then Gray’s. It involved a crew of young California lawyers, the most ambitious of whom was the weedy kid named Donald Segretti. Segretti had a talent for what he called “ratfucking,” political dirty tricks carried out with the many thousands of dollars in slush-fund money put their way by the CRP’s bagmen. They had written bogus letters to editors, phony campaign literature, screwed up scheduling and logistics for Democratic candidates’ rallies, canceled flights for Democratic operatives, started rumors among the press and opposition researchers, aided and abetted George Wallace’s bomb-throwing run at the Democratic nomination before an attempted assassination paralyzed him, and generally done everything they could to make every Democratic candidate’s campaign they could reach a stumbling, in-fighting mess.

    They had done it all with dodgy campaign money; there was the in for Gray. He could check into Segretti’s gang, score some points as he cleaned up CRP’s funding, isolate and label Colson’s merry band as extremists, and pronounce that there was nothing else to see. Haldeman and Dean suggested as much to Gray in a private meeting where the West Wing men could practically smell Gray’s flop-sweat. It would even make the Bureau look good to liberals, surely a minor miracle in itself. And when it came down to it, Dean said, Segretti and those other kids might not even have done anything illegal. Unethical, sure, but what was a misdemeanor or two among friends?

    Others in federal law enforcement, once the names of Segretti and his pranksters were known, did not share that optimism. Chief among them was Martin McGee. McGee was a tough, businesslike Chicago Irishman, and the Chief Postal Inspector of the United States. The Bureau’s men might have laughed over a quiet drink about postal inspectors, but you failed to take them seriously at your peril and Martin McGee was the reason why. Over the previous twenty years McGee had taken one of the most loosely written criminal causes of action in the United States Code — mail and wire fraud — and made it the truncheon with which he beat down land swindles, shady advertising, fraudulent charities, phony sweepstakes, and every other con that passed through the U.S. Mail.

    Now, with the Bureau at sea after its longtime master’s death, and the nation in a state of quiet but deep unease about what exactly had taken place in “the Washington incidents” — wire-service reporters quickly dumped that description for the term “Brookingsgate,” a portmanteau of the Brookings Institution and the Watergate Complex, the sites of the crimes — McGee saw his main chance. At least some of what the ratfuckers had gotten up to involved the abuse of mailings, from campaign paraphenalia to forged letters designed to confound and spread slanders and misinformation. These too-clever-by-half young lawyers were low hanging fruit so far as “Brookingsgate” was concerned. And they had engaged in tortious conduct at the very least, federal crimes maybe, on McGee's turf. The ratfuckers had fucked with the wrong Mick, as Martin McGee quickly resolved to show them. By the middle of June, the most intensive Postal Inspectorate investigation in years, determined to show its quality, came down on the Segretti wing of CREEP’s dirty-tricks division. And if one looked very carefully, you could see the first cracks in the basement ceiling of the Committee to Re-elect the President.

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    George Mitchell took the train to Manchester, New Hampshire late in June. Martin McGee’s investigation hung in the air and clung to the bottom half of front pages across the country. Mitchell had time to read in detail on the train as he balanced a slew of yellow legal pads in his lap, his briefcase tilted against him with the weight of the leather-bound Title 18 of the United States Code he’d stuffed in it back in Washington the day before. Mitchell was medium-tall and entirely lawyerly in his large glasses, a Mainer and a Lebanese-American both, the latter by adoption on his father’s side and birth on his mother’s. The Maronite Catholic priests who peopled the Sundays of his growing-up had a fondness for the story of Daniel, no surprise given their demography back home in the Levant. Mitchell remembered it now as he shuffled everything together, stood up after the train chuntered to a halt, and set out to look for a cab straight to the offices of the Manchester Union-Leader. Once he’d flagged a ride out front of the station, he imagined himself inside William Loeb’s office to prepare for the event in advance. Lion’s den, indeed.

    Loeb had been the Union-Leader’s publisher since the Forties, with politics a little to Genghis Khan’s right and a thumb on the scales of the New Hampshire primary that for the last two presidential cycles had been the wreck of Democratic front-runners. Mitchell knew that all too well. As deputy chairman of Ed Muskie’s presidential campaign and the Lincolnesque senator’s former legislative aide, Mitchell had lived every minute in slow motion as the wheels came off Muskie’s campaign in this town, amid the snows of late February. First the scurrilous "Canuck Letter," then Muskie’s clenched, furious presser on which the pool reporters descended like jackals, then the desertions, the confusion, and in time the avalanche came down. Loeb had taken pride in it, all things considered. The publication of the letter, the purported scoop that destroyed “Moscow Muskie”’s ambitions and confirmed Loeb’s personal power over “the nation’s first primary” in the new world where what had been beauty contests now stole the party conventions’ thunder. Now in this fraught summer Mitchell had an idea, the kind only a lawyer of his caliber would dare to have. And really, if Dick Nixon could go to China, surely he could at least go to Manchester….

    The road to Loeb’s office was short — Manchester wasn’t the District — and Mitchell later confessed surprise he was shown in so quickly. He expected, really, that Loeb would want to play with his food a bit more. Instead the bald, hawklike, and perpetually bow-tied Loeb gestured for Mitchell to sit down and confessed his frank amusement that “Muskie’s body man” wanted an audience. Mitchell smiled politely and minced no words. This is not what you think, he said. There are no grudges here, he said. That’s not the point. This was a proposal, and it would only work in company. We have to work together, he said. Loeb smiled a vulpine smile and let the Down East lawyer carry on.

    Loeb would later insist it was Mitchell’s guts that impressed him, not the brilliance of it. The idea that in a thousand years Loeb would ever say yes — which he did, after a nerve-shattering silence of consideration. Mitchell was inclined to think it was the audacity, that and the fact Mitchell had found the one chink in Loeb’s conservative armor, that he was a newspaper man through and through. Whatever the cause Mitchell laid out the plan with precision. It was plain enough. He wanted Loeb, probably by and through the Union-Leader, to sue Donald Segretti and his co-conspirators.

    Why? Fraud, Mitchell said. Yes, Loeb still insisted the “Canuck Letter” was a genuine article despite Martin McGee’s spadework. It wouldn’t last. The investigation would move forward, and it would do nothing but damage the Union-Leader’s reputation, and through that its circulation. Advertisers would drop out. The tremendous informal power Loeb enjoyed — kingmaker for the New Hampshire GOP, scourge of the Democrats — would fade. There were material costs involved, other lawyers could calculate presumptive damages. The letter made statements on which the Union-Leader relied for its scoop, the scoop that destroyed Ed Muskie’s candidacy more than any other single factor.

    But it was not about the cause of action, really. It was about the discovery: tactically reasonable blanket demands for the records of Segretti’s crew could blow their operation wide open. If that happened quickly, and thoroughly, there was still a chance the Union-Leader could beat the big boys to the goods again, this time on the up and up. At a stroke Loeb and his paper could prove their integrity, their shrewdness, and their ability to shape national political outcomes. The whole story of this rogue operation in CREEP’s basement would sell copy, both local papers and reprints in the big markets, like no tomorrow.

    The genius, though, lay in the cross-petition. The Union-Leader’s claim for damages was a thin reed, and while even a claim for business losses in the New Hampshire market could clean out Segretti and his co-conspirators, it wouldn’t shake the bigger fish who had supplied slush funds from… somewhere. No one knew yet really. But the cross-petition… Mitchell had lined up five major contributors to the Muskie campaign, three of them unions with pockets quite deep enough to fund the attorneys’ fees this job would take, who claimed that the fraudulent letter had specifically and irreparably damaged the political campaign in which they’d invested, that but for the letter there would never have been the press conference, never the wolf-pack of reporters undercutting Muskie’s reputation, never the rush of other ratfucking that followed up the letter’s success blow upon blow because the CRP outlaws saw blood in the political water. False witness to the Union-Leader foreclosed the Muskie campaign’s chances. There were damages to seek, wrongs to make whole.

    It didn’t matter how much substance there was, any more than it mattered how authentic the letter was. Clarity and confidence carried the tort of fraud, and money, or its loss, was the weapon of choice in the effort. The cross-petition could bleed some very big players, and on top of McGee’s Chicago-Irish unconcern for Segretti’s big friends it would scare the young ratfucker and the other field hands shitless. Loeb could scoop the nationals, save Dick Nixon from his subordinates, and get to the bottom of the biggest political story in the country.

    As for Mitchell? What he got besides the reputation for cooking this up — it wouldn’t hurt for a man with his eye on the Maine governor’s mansion in Augusta in two years — was Ed Muskie’s good name back. That and a bare hunch, only just, that this ran a lot deeper than any Republican newspaper editors wanted it to. Once Loeb and Mitchell had settled that Loeb would file suit personally in the federal New Hampshire District, so as to disentangle his field reporters from a conflict of interest in the matter, the two shook on it. And down in the CREEP basement another part of the roof caved in.

    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

    Ed Muskie said no first. Or at least, he was the first to be asked formally and said no when he was. After California, after the breathless success of the primaries, George McGovern came back to Boston for a campaign stop in one of the nation’s most Democratic cities. There he took lunch with Teddy Kennedy. As an astute reader of people Kennedy felt his old friend George edge towards the question, so Kennedy steered the shop talk away with the words, “you know, I watched my brothers do it and I’ve watched you do it — I don’t think I could stomach a nationwide campaign when it comes down to it.”

    As McGovern deflated Kennedy grinned to buck him up and launched into energetic talk of how McGovern should poach a Southerner for the ticket. McGovern, said Teddy, needed to come back around to the economic populism that had worked so well in the Wisconsin primary and get someone like Wilbur Mills, the longtime boss of House Ways and Means. That role made Mills in practical terms one of the three or four most powerful people in Congress, and a favorite-son presidential candidate out of Arkansas this very cycle. A drinker, sure, but a ruthlessly knowledgeable and trusted man on economics and a possible key to the Mississippi valley states. If not old Wilbur, then maybe someone like Louisiana’s former governor John McKeithen, a war hero like McGovern and an economic populist with a cagily moderate record on racial issues, or the bright young host of the upcoming Democratic National Convention, Florida governor Reubin Askew, a winter soldier on civil rights and crusader for ethics reform. Southerners, the grandson of Boston’s legendary mayor “Honey Fitz” Fitzgerald said. That was where to look to seal McGovern’s leadership in the race.

    It was not, though, what McGovern’s campaign team said. Pat Caddell the wunderkind pollster, and McGovern’s manager, factotum, and fixer Gary Hart, and Jean Westwood on her way to becoming the first woman to head the Democratic National Committee, and several others swung very much another way. Write off the South, they said. Democrats in the state-level races will or won’t win on their own merits; many of them wanted no part of McGovern’s nomination, and others feared they couldn’t win if they talked up the South Dakotan crusader too much. What the campaign needed in a running mate, went this other argument, was a prominent Catholic, a favorite of the unions, and if possible someone with ties to one or more of the big-city political machines to boot.

    At a personal level McGovern liked Boston’s mayor Kevin White for the role. With one stern look down that glacially long face of his McGovern’s dear friend, economics tutor, fellow campaigner of the first hour when no one took McGovern seriously, and Harvard legend John Kenneth Galbraith shot down the White idea. White was a leading Muskie backer, and the Massachusetts delegation wouldn’t wear it. Catholic was fine, Galbraith said, even to be encouraged, but the nice thing was that they bred so freely there were plenty to choose from. McGovern shot back with a smile that Protestantism hadn’t kept Galbraith from a bevy of children of his own. But the candidate took the advice.


    On those grounds, then, the next day McGovern walked to the back of the “Dakota Queen II”, the campaign’s charter jet, where he found Hart and the young guru of the state caucuses Rick Stearns together with the campaign’s sage and media maven Frank Mankiewicz. Their boss told them if they wanted a Catholic union man they might as well start at the front of the phone book. One pay phone at the next airport later, Mankiewicz himself called the doughty little Irish operator Mark Shields, who’d been a heavy hitter in Muskie’s communications staff before the campaign imploded, and said McGovern wanted a word. As Shields passed that on, Muskie guessed the reason and declined.

    He was the first of several in the middle of that June. Hubert Humphrey’s protege Fritz Mondale was next — the wounds of California were still fresh. Then, after a full day of circuitous talk about where to look now, jotted down in fierce detail by the campaign’s freak-powered journalistic body man Hunter S. Thompson (while buzzed on a light dose of mescaline plus sipping tequila to even it out), an ask went to McKeithen. The Louisianan had the good grace to spend a day of his own in thought before he dumped them too. McGovern’s old friend Abe Ribicoff, asked in person when McGovern pulled him aside at a New York fundraiser, pleaded a new marriage on the way. It was a reasonable out but still just that. The pickings looked thin.


    It was a bad look for what at that point seemed to be a powerful campaign. It had listed a bit, almost to keeling, before the firebomb blew in Washington. McGovern’s principal rivals in the crucial California primary, still grandfathered as winner-take-all despite the rules of the very reform commission McGovern co-chaired a few years before, asked for a series of three debates in the fortnight before the vote. The first had been harmless enough. But in the second Hubert Humphrey, steeled with desperate concern that the family history of cancer made this his last chance at the White House, lit into his old friend and fellow South Dakota native McGovern as though he were reading Richard Nixon’s talking points. In sheer befuddled shock at the attacks, swamped with anger and sadness and a sense of betrayal, McGovern clammed up like a good Midwesterner and only looked wooden for his trouble, a punching bag for the voluble Humphrey.

    Now, though, not quite three days on from the shocking news out of Washington, Hunter S. Thompson seemed to capture it best in a passage from his dispatches that later became the famous Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ‘72: How The Good Guys Finally Won: “… old George had the gimlet eye of righteousness again, the prairie fire that showed up once in a while in the primaries, probably to the best effect in Wisconsin where he and the Christ of the Crackers, George Corley Wallace, had carried all before them…. For once he brushed aside Frank Mankiewicz’s pre-bout strategizing — Frank always did look like a welterweight’s trainer in a bad suit during those bull sessions — the candidate had things to say and damned if he wouldn’t say them. He walked out of there not tucked into himself the way he’d been ever since Humphrey played rope-a-dope in the last round, but striding like the man who’d bombed hell out of the Nazis, headed for the hearthrugged battlefield with a cunning plan to bring back the pelt of at least one Minnesota pharmacist, maybe more if they held a convention in Studio City….”

    Later observers, scholars of communications and psychologists both, would say on reflection that McGovern’s body language made a great deal of the difference. He put himself physically forward in the small scrum of the studio, with Shirley Chisholm brought in by satellite from the East Coast. McGovern hammered the recent lawbreaking. He tied it into the war — “if this is a rogue element, well then we’ve got a whole Executive Branch up to the eye teeth in rogue elements … this is what happens when you run a bad war out of basements and back rooms for four administrations.” He promised vigorous action and a clear alternative. And now it was Humphrey’s turn to be outflanked, as the remedies he offered did not differ too much from McGovern’s but lacked the fire and clarity. Humphrey, who knew of what the Johnson administration had gone through debating whether it should out the "Chennault Affair" in 1968, fudged and fidgeted and watched what he said. McGovern moved on.

    When Humphrey seemed to recover himself on aid to Israel, McGovern tacked: “Peace in that troubled part of the world is the very best thing for all concerned. If the Soviets were ever fool enough to take military action in the region, of course, we’d have to respond. I think it’s very important, right here, to get something clear. And that is, to oppose a secretive and self-destructive and immoral war doesn’t mean some kind of blanket pacifism. We are not going to let people who have been victims of humanity’s worst crimes lose their refuge and their chosen home. Israel would be safe on my watch. To not bomb first and question later, or not cheerlead foolish, bloody conflicts born out of fear and political gain, doesn’t mean you don’t stand and fight when you have to.”

    He turned again on economics, and with a cooler head berated both Frank Reynolds' hosting and Humphrey for the Minnesotan’s comments on the Demogrant proposal at the last debate: “… all this business about higher taxes for ordinary people, the numbers simply don’t bear that out. Quite a few different people, have done those numbers. They simply don’t say that. But it’s a sad thing when a true Democrat — I’d say here again that only Senator Humphrey and have said we'll support our party’s nominee no matter what — a true Democrat takes a leaf out of Richard Nixon’s hymnal like that. And then the press run with it. We get three-inch headlines about how a plan to administer public aid fairly and efficiently through the tax code will make life hard on working people, then a week or two later there’s an apology that they got it wrong on the back page, but who reads the apology?” McGovern’s last blow fell against a man on his way out of both the campaign and, in the end, the party, Los Angeles mayor Sam Yorty. As Yorty apologized for mistakenly identifying the wrong government official in response to a question, McGovern jabbed back, “I can see how someone who thought a twenty-year cop was a dangerous radical might make that mistake.” It was a sharp barb aimed at Yorty’s scorched-earth advertising against African American mayoral candidate Tom Bradley, an LAPD veteran and distinguished lawyer, in the last election.

    McGovern left the room to find his fortunes lifted in a very large part. The state’s more conservative papers called him “too strident,” but the vigorous defense of his positions, the pugnacity, and the blows against the criminal conduct of people tied to the Nixon White House won him praise. With the fierce urgency of the moment, Frank Mankiewicz and Mankiewicz’s old friend and ally Jesse Unruh, former Speaker of the California House, rushed McGovern in two directions before a wrap-up in the Bay Area. The first was into the minority communities of Los Angeles, where pragmatism about Shirley Chisholm’s actual chances and appreciation for McGovern’s stinging defense of Tom Bradley had made waves. The other was the Central Valley, not natural territory for McGovern except for the fact that, even more than Humphrey, McGovern had the most thoroughly developed farm policy of any Democrat in the field. McGovern spent a day and a half getting that across, along with bromides about Washington corruption that, to quote Thompson again, “would have made William Jennings Bryan order a round for the house, even that nice homo erectus down at the end of the bar.” Humphrey’s campaign moved more slowly but the circumstances were not lost on the veteran campaigner. He mobilized the California offices of the AFL-CIO in full, particularly those that worked with the engineering and technical unions among southern California’s defense contractors where McGovern’s planned cuts would bite hard.

    Turnout was high on the day of the primary but the end results ratified the shocking McGovern comeback in the largest state, played out over the previous month and so nearly derailed. McGovern won by an eyelash over nine points, especially among partisan Democrats who had hated Dick Nixon personally for decades, and sure enough better than expected results among racial and ethnic minorities and the southern counties of the Central Valley. Humphrey had still produced a solid result, and still meant to challenge the all-or-nothing allocation of California delegates at the convention. But this ended the primaries on a high note for the presumptive nominee.

    It was a lonely victory. A few days of euphoria passed afterward, with light campaigning, and then Ed Muskie said no, and Mondale and McKeithen after him, and on it went from there. No one in the party was ready just yet to make peace with McGovern’s success, or reconcile with the fact that his policy proposals spooked a significant portion of what people like Jules Witcover of the Los Angeles Times and the up and coming David Broder liked to call middle opinion. The campaign itself fell into a kind of lethargy as McGovern personally intended to do some of his work as a senator before the Fourth of July break. Meanwhile a running argument broke out between Hart, as always on a side of his own, with Mankiewicz and Westwood on the other side, about what to do if Humphrey succeeded in breaking up the California bloc at the convention.

    Pollster Pat Caddell, the maverick South Carolinian number cruncher who believed the campaign’s prophetic, outsider aura was its greatest weapon, still pressed the issue of a running mate. One way or the other, he said, but no middles. They could get a boost either with a man the bosses trusted, or with someone who would double down on the campaign’s message. But a weak candidate, a poor mix or imitation of either category, that would be disaster. It would cast doubt on McGovern’s judgment, it would paint the campaign as second-rate after all, and it wouldn’t offset the people they might lose to a definite choice — go inside or go outside — with converts. In practical terms, despite his petty point-scoring on other issues, it was Gary Hart who took this most seriously and who tried now to come up with useful options for the campaign. In the third week of June Hart set up a working group that included the young, pug-faced speechwriter Bob Shrum, Doug Coulter — the Rockies organizer and Harvard MBA who had volunteered for Vietnam with a secret Special Forces reconnaissance project and found in McGovern the principled voice against the war Coulter had sought on his return — and the young, Southern lawyer from Yale turned Gulf Coast organizer, Bill Clinton.

    Within days they settled on three candidates. The first was one of McGovern’s closest friends, the former governor turned senator from Wisconsin Gaylord Nelson. Firmly anti-war and perhaps the leading environmentalist in a Senate that had several of those, Nelson would satisfy Caddell’s advice to double down. The working group hoped that some proper preparation and advance talks could calm Nelson’s skittishness about national politics. The second was Georgia’s ambitious governor Jimmy Carter, who seemed more than Reubin Askew and the retired McKeithen to have a nose for where power was and the ambition to take a risk on the ticket. The third was Michigan senator Phil Hart, a war hero like McGovern who had been wounded on the D-Day beaches, a Catholic with strong ties to the United Auto Workers, the well chosen floor boss of the 1965 Civil Rights Act, sometimes called “the conscience of the Senate” when that monicker was not, more derisively, laid on McGovern. There was the list.

    Gary Hart paired like with like and delegated Clinton to sound out Carter’s people. With a flair for the dramatic Clinton passed messages through a trusted contact at the University of Arkansas to Carter’s staff offices. Just past the middle of the month Clinton made two trips by car to Georgia where he met with a bright, thoughtful Carter aide named Powell, and the two men hashed through possible terms and offers for Carter to join the ticket. After the second meeting, word came to Clinton through the academic contact that Carter had detailed proposals for a poll to be put in the field that would test the reception of such a ticket by voters. Prone to plunge into the fine details of such a project once he had a grip on it, Clinton passed this up the chain with a series of proposals, and then churned out an eight-page policy memo on a possible platform compromise on busing that would give Carter political cover.

    But while Clinton invested himself in the mission the winds shifted. A wave of paranoia hit the senior campaign staff, moved by Frank Mankiewicz’s gut feeling that Carter would sell them out to Humphrey given a chance and by Gary Hart’s dislike of Clinton’s ingratiatingly hard work on the project. The Carter ask settled into neutral then foundered. Mankiewicz’s gut was misplaced, but not entirely. Carter and some of his senior advisers had the prescience to see that the California delegates were likely to be seated, which would take the wind out of Humphrey, and that Scoop Jackson would then likely emerge as the main challenger to McGovern. Carter therefore sought to maximize his chances with both the McGovern and Jackson campaigns, without giving enough to either to prejudice his position.

    Gaylord Nelson had a poll already; Caddell created a generic version of Nelson in a question set for assessments and ran it the third week of June while other efforts faded. It didn’t hurt, at least, though the uptick was on paper only marginal. At the same time, while other candidates begged off or shied away, Gary Hart fixed his attention on Gaylord Nelson. With Nelson in Washington doing the business of the Senate, Hart asked John Holum, McGovern’s bespectacled, polymath legislative aide who’d written McGovern’s huge and detailed position paper on defense policy among other things, to meet with Nelson a few times. They would discuss campaign business and the senator’s input. Holum was a policy man to his fingertips, so it seemed a safe way to ease Nelson into the waters of an active role in the campaign. Nelson was also no fool, and he played coy with the possibility. Hart himself flew to Washington after more than a week of this, taking a day away from the campaign which always seemed like a risk to Hart given his rivalry with Mankiewicz, to talk platform issues with Nelson personally. This put Nelson’s back up though he did not show it and the brisk, focused Hart did not seem to see. Whenever questions came around that might lead to talk of Nelson joining the ticket, the senator stayed firmly back from them and steered the talk back to policy. Hart believed he might have another trick, perhaps two, up his sleeve to induce Nelson yet now it looked like the campaign was running quietly but desperately out of options.

    The next day, in town to shepherd a rider on defense appropriations, George McGovern made a choice. After time on the Senate floor he walked out from the chamber and all the way to Ed Muskie’s offices. The young Madeleine Albright happened to be the senior staffer around at that moment, and let the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee in to sit on the couch, which McGovern accepted with a smile and Midwestern self-containment. Muskie happened in a few minutes later. What followed was never put down on paper, and remains the province of the memories of the two men, who later recounted it more than once. With his dry New England sense of humor, Muskie summed it up in an interview with the phrase, “George wanted to remind me, as a good Methodist, that the faith of my fathers has no monopoly on professions of guilt.”

    With the earnest focus for which he was known, McGovern talked about the CREEP investigation, and the Canuck Letter, and the slander of Muskie’s wife of thirty years, Jane. McGovern was struck deeply by the pain it all had caused, and blamed himself for being too focused on the campaign to appreciate both the personal toll it cost the Muskies and the way it tarnished McGovern’s own victory. McGovern came with an offer too — a little thing, he said, but something. The McGovern campaign would drop the alternate slate of delegates they had named through a procedural challenge in Illinois, Muskie’s single largest primary victory. The primary there elected delegates, rather than candidates, and a more radical slate headed by the Reverend Jesse Jackson among others had displaced Muskie’s electors with challenges to the delegates’ propriety and diversity. I’ll make it right with Jackson, McGovern said. He’s going to have this over me and he knows the value of that. You, said the presumptive nominee to Muskie, have a voice in this convention and it shouldn’t be taken from you.

    Muskie, by mutual account, looked McGovern over, first thanked him, and then added that Muskie knew where McGovern wanted to go with this discussion and that he shouldn’t ask. McGovern, a little crestfallen, simply nodded. Muskie recalled, “I told him I had the advantage here by studying law rather than history.” With the fraud suit underway, in which Muskie was a material witness and an interested party who might be named in some kind of creative cross-claim, it was better to steer clear of association with somebody else’s ticket. It was also a matter of investment. Muskie was a private and, behind the craggy facade, a deeply emotional man who wanted time for himself and his family to recover from the death of their dreams in the March cold.

    McGovern brightened a bit at a thought of his own devising, and by both men’s recall said, “Ed, I’m going to win this thing. The nomination, maybe even the election. But if I’m wrong, and I sure can be good at that, I mean to put you forward. We can’t have Chicago ever again, not now of all times. If they get me I want you to know, right here, that I believe you should lead the ticket.” Muskie smiled, and thanked McGovern again, then wondered out loud if might be of some help in a more practical way. McGovern had to think about that ticket, Muskie said, about the best way to organize it.

    Of course, said McGovern. To rush in would mean disaster, Muskie went on in “a way more professorial than I ever was at Dakota Wesleyan,” in McGovern’s words. McGovern had to square his passionate supporters with a choice that would only alienate part of the party, not all of it. All right, replied McGovern, one learned friend to another — using the usual Senate term of endearment for a colleague — what did Muskie think? First, said Muskie, that there were no good Southerners from whom to choose. McKeithen had said no, Sanford despite his primary run was too far into retirement, and other possibilities like Askew, or Carter, or Texas’ freshman senator Lloyd Bentsen didn’t have enough experience. Both men agreed Al Gore, Sr. would have fit just right. What then, asked McGovern. At this, as Muskie retold the story more than once, “I told him that as a lawyer I had a proposal for a comprehensive settlement.”

    It took a parliament of women to do it; that was, likely, what irked Gary Hart the most. As June started to fade away, as the requests for production of documents in Loeb v. Segretti went ahead, and as Gaylord Nelson continued to perseverate in his indecision, Hart began to cast around for ways out of the problem. The ticket needed to look strong in Miami, to get past the parliamentary ambushes on delegate credentials and impose its vision on the convention. With the uncertain climate in the country that meant a bold move to prove to thoughtful voters who needed cause to vote for the Democrats that this was the way out of the Nixon nightmare. Already one Hart had dished the idea of the other Hart: Gary, in a campaign policy meeting, vetoed an approach from the national staff to Sen. Phil Hart of Michigan.

    It wasn’t the man, Hart Gary insisted about Hart Phil with not a single sense of how this sounded in “America’s inclusive campaign.” It was his wife. Jean Briggs Hart was a formidable, striking, and consummately self-assured woman, the daughter of an auto-parts manufacturing magnate who was a longtime owner of the Detroit Tigers. She had learned to fly planes in uniform during the war and now flew her husband to various campaign and constituency stops by helicopter. In the early Sixties she had taken part in a private foundation’s efforts to subject a pool of women to the physical, intellectual, and psychological tests of the Mercury Program astronauts: Jean Briggs Hart passed with flying colors. She was also a devout Catholic and mother of nine (one of whom had died tragically as a toddler), who had been arrested for trying to hold an impromptu mass and peace protest inside the Pentagon, and who assailed her mother Church as racist and possessed of an “outrageous” position on birth control. In May she had refused to pay taxes because of the Operation LINEBACKER bombings of North Vietnam and mining of its harbors. Too much baggage, said Hart Gary. We need a running mate who will either make a big impression on their own or not have baggage. For the former, he suggested a Nixon-to-China pitch to second-tier primaries candidate “Scoop” Jackson, the hawkish New Dealer from Washington state, and for the latter the Catholic product of the St. Louis political machine Sen. Thomas Eagleton.

    As it was, the campaign did not so much go over Hart’s head as it went around him in a pincer movement. The conversation in Ed Muskie’s office had sealed George McGovern’s own judgment on the matter. He, in turn, went to two women, his own remarkable wife Eleanor, and Jean Westwood, the tireless organizer and administrator inside the national campaign staff, a flinty Utah native who was very good at strategically ignoring the younger, less experienced Hart’s commandments. Go to her, said McGovern, so they did. He, said McGovern, would think himself to death if that was possible, he’ll go over every angle so carefully they’ll finish counting votes in Ohio before he’s done. Go to her, though, and we’ll settle this.

    So, thanks to the candidate’s Washington schedule, Eleanor McGovern and Jean Westwood converged on the right Federal-era townhouse and met the smiling, unflappable heiress at the door. After just over an hour’s conversation they waited for her husband to return home. When he did they told him what had been decided. In keeping with his sensible and generous nature, he accepted. Then there was a phone call under an assumed name to McGovern’s Senate office. An aide with an innocuous but coded message was sent to find McGovern, who seemed to smile more than usual in the canteen. So it was Philip Aloysius Hart joined the presumptive Democratic ticket.


    As the temporarily secret duo squared up to face the Democratic National Convention ahead in Miami the campaign’s newest volunteer, Jean Briggs Hart, half declared and half hoped that the addition of her husband to the ticket meant that, “now Dick Nixon was going to have one hell of a fight on his hands.” With the White House’s mastery at manipulation of the press corps — so far they’d walked clean through this Brookingsgate business without any shit on their suits, Gary Hart observed mordantly — others were more skeptical. When Frank Mankiewicz quipped, “we have maybe the two most honest, decent men in the Senate on this ticket. How could we possibly win?” the veteran of Bobby Kennedy’s tragic campaign was only half kidding. At the very least McGovern had made it out of Gethsemane, as the candidate himself, a Methodist pastor’s son, put it, where “it seemed like every leading Democrat in Congress was determined to deny me three times.” And he’d done it without a foot wrong. Whether that would persuade the country would have to wait a bit; first they had to convince the convention.
     
    Last edited: Jun 27, 2018
  8. Threadmarks: McGoverning: Images from Chapter 1

    Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    McGoverning Third-Rate Burglary Colson mugshot .png
    Chuck Colson, fitted with the glasses broken when he was tackled by a Washington, D.C. firefighter at the site of the Brookings Institution firebombing and burglary, seen in his mug shot

    McGoverning Third-Rate Burglary Segretti mail fraud indictment 1972.jpg
    Thrown to the wolves: Donald Segretti interviewed by the press in connection with Postal Inspector Martin McGee's mail fraud investigation in June 1972
    [​IMG]
    Outside the Cow Palace in San Francisco, George McGovern celebrates early word of his victory in the California primary, which clinched the nomination for the outsider candidate
    upload_2018-1-29_23-19-6.png
    Sen. Phil Hart (D-MI) at a Senate hearing in late June 1972; only a few days after this picture was taken, Hart was approached in secret by the McGovern campaign and agreed to serve as George McGovern's running mate on the Democratic presidential ticket
     
  9. big-click Measure 666

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    There is something very of the time about your prose; it's not a Thompson pastiche (not nearly as angry!) but it has similar rhythms. Fantastic stuff so far.
     
  10. Wolfram Fair to middlin'

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    I loved it! Up until you said that it’d be Hart, I was expecting Askew or Bumpers, so the redaction worked.
     
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  11. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    Thank you. It's definitely my period in terms of research and reading for this project and beyond and, well, I come from then, so I'm not surprised that HST, Tim Crouch, and a few other key voices of the era (especially Rolling Stone and Esquire types), have crept into my already ... susceptible style. The voice changes a little over time and location in the work I've done on the project so far but these early bits have that definite flavor. I'm glad it stood out.

    And yes, fellow Oregonian (IIRC), 91 really was "Measure 420" wasn't it.....

    Thanks! It means a lot. The best lawyer in a one-lawyer town is an attractive figure, and so's Askew (you've seen my status line...) but it's not their period yet. Glad to know I kept at least one secret successfully ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
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  12. Israel Well-Known Member

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    Awesome!
     
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  13. Avalanches Well-Known Member

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    Son of a bitch, Mankiewicz is a goddamn miracle worker for getting Hart on the ticket.

    I am curious, is Harold Hughes back in McGovern’s good graces after endorsing Muskie, or is he still out in the wilderness?
     
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  14. Bulldoggus Socially Guelph, Fiscally Ghibelline

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    I just noticed this now, as I was laid out by a rather nasty bug when this dropped. Thank you very much!
     
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  15. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    You're entirely welcome.
     
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  16. Yes Safe, Efficient Airship Travel Since 1972

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    Thanks!

    More than Mankiewicz, it's the McGovern-Muskie rapprochement: we start to see the ripples from the POD here, the agitation and acceleration of the Nixon machine coming unstuck affects McGovern at a very personal level, it's what fires him up for the third California debate, and the Segretti revelations impel his mea culpa even though it's not really his culpa, to Muskie that breaks the ice and gets them collaborating. IOTL Muskie came around in time and actually campaigned much more and more actively for McGovern than any comparable Democratic grandee not named Ted Kennedy in the fall. Here they get a head start on work together. So it's that plus the "monstrous regiment" of women, because Phil Hart was a prince who had total respect and admiration for Jean even when he disagreed with her. But by this time he's come around on the war, and these powerful and persuasive women convince him there's a very important good cause to fight for here, worth his time especially with these revelations coming out. (Phil will play a material part in kicking that ball down the field, too, just remember the three little letters ITT....) Also Gary Hart really needs to get (1) a cootie shot and (2) over himself. Meanwhile, without the Eagleton disaster to stage-manage Frank can get on with what he did best, which was massaging the press. It's remarkable what you can kick of if you change a couple of key factors.

    Harold and George are likely to experience a convergence of interests, if not full-on reconciliation, as the autumn goes on and into the actual business of government by '73. At the very least Hughes will see McGovern as much the lesser of evils by November, and maybe even a positive good.
     
  17. Avalanches Well-Known Member

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    Oh, Harold always thought he was a positive good; he and MickeyG were best friends in the Senate. Only McGovern's relationship with Bobby and possibly Fred Harris were any closer than theirs. However, like practically every Democrat across the country who thought Muskie was the only one who could beat Nixon, he fell in line with the Status Quo. Only did Muskie's colossal fuck-up and incompetence as a campaigner (close parallel's with Dewey '48 and Clinton '16 here) send many crawling back to McGovern or Humphrey. I don't think McGovern ever actually forgave Hughes, as he was stunned when one of his best friends openly "stabbed him in the back."

    I'm also glad to see the future Chief of Staff (and Governor of Maryland) actually do some good ITTL instead of being relegated to the role of having to cover for Eagleton. It's nice to see the butterflies in action, innit?
     
    Last edited: Jan 31, 2018
  18. Bulldoggus Socially Guelph, Fiscally Ghibelline

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    [​IMG]
     
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  19. Avalanches Well-Known Member

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    I mean they had that bill together, but I've never heard of them being close friends. I could just be stupid, though.
     
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  20. Bulldoggus Socially Guelph, Fiscally Ghibelline

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    By the accounts I've heard, they were very close. But you're not stupid, I hadn't heard that myself until our resident McGovern-knower told me.
     
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