Tuesday, May 13, 2003


Raven was singing in the garden while I was splattering bacon grease on myself in the kitchen. Some folks always choose the better part—as in the biblical story of Mary and Martha, the latter who was always “busy about many things”.

“This coffee is not delcious. Too much cinnamon.” Raven pushes his cup aside. “Who is this guy, George McGovern anyway? It says here he was the Democratic presidential candidate in 1972.”

That he was, Rave. An ill-fated campaign. Nixon was running for re-election, pulling dirty tricks like mad in his best style. McGovern was against the Vietnam war, so he looked like a real alternative to more of the same with Tricky Dick. Unfortunately, his first running mate bit the dust almost immediately because it came out that he had been treated for depression.

“How could any sane person not have been depressed, that’s what I´d like to know.” Raven bites into his peach jam-slathered toast.

We’re talking about the 70s, guy. When taking a pill for depression was hypocritically regarded as the same as dropping acid. Anyway, that candidate was jerked from the ticket and replaced by Sargent Shriver—one of the Kennedy clan who’d been running the Peace Corps, and my dissertation adviser, Harvey Swados, was recruited to write his speeches. A thankless task, but Harvey had to make the sacrifice to try to knock out Nixon—not to mention that a racist Alabama governor named George Wallace was making another run at the White House. We were living in Springfield, Massachusetts and drove up to Amherst to vote for McGovern.

“Springfield. The home of the Basketball Hall of Fame, right?”

It’s only claim to fame, probably. I didn’t know you were a basketball fan, Rave.

“I’m not. Too short. But I like sports trivia.”

All sports are trivial. Anyway, we voted because although we knew McGovern was not going to win, our polling place was an auction house in North Amherst and I wanted to preview the weekend’s selection of stuff.

“A bit cynical, aren’t we?”

Rave, I was trying to run an antiques business. Give me a break. McGovern lost, and because Massachusetts was the only state he carried, we printed up bumper stickers that said: Don’t blame me; I’m from Massachusetts. Unfortunately, Harvey Swados died a month after the presidential election. Writing political speeches literally killed the novelist.

“Ah. Politics killed the wrong person. But the bumper stickers were a good way to weasel out of the blame for Nixon. Didn’t he have to resign?”

Of course he did. But Rave, why did you bring up McGovern in the first place?

“Because he has a piece on the Common Dreams site. Republished from the Washington Post. It’s called A More Constructive Internationalism.”

What does he say?

“Basically, he takes offense at his being called anti-internationalist. Something like that.”

Because he opposed the Vietnam war?

“Maybe. It’s not too clear. Anyway, he gives a list of activities he’s done which he feels indicate his internationalism—especially his work to reduce global hunger. Not exactly a resounding success there, but…And goes on to say:

‘I am opposed to the Bush doctrine of "preemptive war" -- what heretofore has been known as aggression or invasion. I am also opposed to congressional resolutions that give the president a blank check to go to war when he pleases.

I have always thought America to be the greatest country on earth. One of the reasons I think so is because of our great founding fathers, including Thomas Jefferson, who spoke of "a decent respect to the opinions of mankind." Is there any doubt that the opinion of mankind was overwhelmingly against our wars in Vietnam and Iraq?’”

No doubt in my mind, at all, Rave. That’s why I am so angry and concerned about the US government’s completely blowing off world opinion.

“He also makes a little jab at Bush’s neo-Hitlerism:

'We don't measure a nation's internationalism by the number of troops it sends to other countries. By that test, Adolf Hitler would be the greatest internationalist of the 20th century. I might add thatI would not have won the Democratic presidential nomination in 1972 -- winning 11 primaries, including the two largest states, New York and California -- if I had been perceived as an isolationist. I also believe that if the disgraceful conduct of President Richard Nixon during that campaign had been known before the election, I would have been elected. If so, I would have led as an internationalist unafraid to use force in the national interest.'

Seems like he’s saying not to blame him. Is he from Massachusetts?”

No, Rave. From South Dakota. But South Dakota doesn’t look as good on a bumper sticker.

"Sounds like it's in the middle of Nowhere. Sort of like here." Raven looks very sly.

I think I see where you're going, Rave. Forget about Don't blame me; I'm from Puerto Angel....

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