Thursday, June 4, 2009

1968 part 2 - McCarthy Lost His Y

I had been an early supporter of Gene McCarthy when he decided to challenge President Lyndon Johnson for the 1968 Presidential nomination. I opposed the war and while I supported Johnson’s significant and very progressive domestic accomplishments, I could not support him for another term as President. At the time, the war was the overriding factor.

I acquired a McCarthy bumper sticker which I stuck to the top of my guitar case (I still have the guitar and the guitar case but the sticker is long gone).

McCarthy, against all conventional wisdom, almost bested Johnson in the New Hampshire primary and the race was on.

Then Bobby Kennedy got in the race. There was tremendous animosity toward Kennedy from many McCarthy supporters. They felt that Kennedy had stood on the sidelines until it became clear that Johnson could be beaten in the primaries and then had jumped in.

I remained a McCarty supporter for the time being. Then there was the Johnson withdrawal.

It was a Sunday night, if I remember correctly. Steve, Rosemary, Ron Duce and I (The Happy Folk at the time) were playing a gig at Taco Sierra, a 3.2% beer and taco restaurant (I’ve played many sterling engagements and high-class joints in my time).

We watched Johnson on TV and then played our gig: A pretty dramatic night.

Through April I began to reassess my support for McCarthy. Not that I disagreed with him, but I began to see in Bobby an object of real change. A person in whom I not only believed but in whom I thought there might actually be the possibility of building the better world many of us were striving for. That capacity for change, in part was based on the fact that he had the best chance of winning and keeping Dick Nixon out of the White House. (I have a maxim I use in politics – You can’t govern if you don’t win, you won’t win if you don’t govern).

I became a Kennedy supporter. But the bumper sticker, which by that time was becoming a bit tattered, was still on my guitar case. Then one day, Steve looked at it and noticed that the ‘Y’ at the end of McCarthy’s name had been torn off.

Steve: “McCarthy’s lost his Y.”

Denny: “Yes he has.”

1 comment:

Sarah said...

Yes, but how were the tacos?

I love reading about this, by the hearing about this era of your life!