Russ Smith, aka "Mugger," currently writing a column for the semi-sleazy tabloid New York Press--which he used to own--seems almost back to his rollicking old form here. It's something he seems to have lost for a time after he sold his paper and moved back to his native Baltimore. Somehow his stuff was, oh, less piquant, perhaps having something to do with the more relaxed atmosphere of Charm City, the home of ego-freak Peter Angelos' sorry, steroid-crazed Orioles.
But we wander far afield. Smith reminisces on his own youthful 1968 infatuation with the Quixotic "other McCarthy" whose anti-war quest to grab the presidency from the tanking Lyndon Johnson was emblematic of the 1960s. Also emblematic, however, was what happened next. Since "Clean Gene" had proved to be a Giant Killer, it was time for a REAL contendah to step up to the plate. Who else but the boyishly handsome and condescending brat Robert Kennedy. With McCarthy having done the heavy lifting, Bobby, having previously professed no interest in the White House, instantly experience a Pauline change of heart and blew McCarthy's challenge away promising a return to the glory days of a bogus Camelot.
Mugger's take is right on:
I was disgusted at Kennedy’s entrance into the race just days after McCarthy’s strong showing in the New Hampshire primary, a stunning event that led LBJ to quit politics, and while RFK’s assassination that June was tragic—if not for the nation, certainly his wife and children—it led to all sorts of revisionism about the Sophocles-spouting senator. Lost in all the hagiography of Kennedy mingling with the underprivileged and fruit-pickers in California was his splintering the anti-war movement’s momentum by cynically challenging McCarthy after he’d promised to stay on the sidelines. In retrospect, a better choice would’ve been to wait till 1972 or ‘76—he might still be alive—but Kennedy, displaying the dirty, money-fueled politics of his family, just couldn’t resist.Yep. Back in his liberal phase, Wonker felt the same, and it was an uncomfortable feeling indeed. The Wonk was living at the time in the dorm of a Washington, DC college which shall remain nameless (its main claim to shame being the charming Arkansas bumpkin-alumnus-President who got himself impeached for the improper use of a fine cigar, a high crime and misdemeanor if there ever was one).
And whom should we have on our floor at the time but a live-in priest who was essentially chaplain to the RFK clan and highly partisan as a result. Like Smith, the Wonk, too, felt Bobby's move was more than a bit opportunistic, but it was socially unacceptable to say that at the time and incur the wrath of the peaceful priest-prefect, not to mention epithets of opprobrium from the hordes of young Democrat-forever automatons hailing from New Jersey, Philly, and New York who inhabited most of this floor. The situation was sort of a precursor to today's PC campuses where it's unacceptable to venture any opinion that hasn't been granted the nihil obstat and imprimatur of St. Noam Chomsky.
The denoument to McCarthy's excellent adventure should have been predictable but we were all naive. Even idealists eventually have to realize that politics is Darwinianism at its finest. Vicious or not, McCarthy was out and Kennedy was in until--in an odd foreshadowing of our more recent history--he harmonically converged with his fate: a final, murderous encounter with a Bin-Laden precursor in the galley of a La-La Land hotel. The collapse of the entire Democratic kiddie crusade after that led directly to the first collapse of that party and the Second Coming of Nixxon Agonistes. The Dems next drafted the ridiculous George McGovern (another looney professor), and began their long descent into the tar-pit of the Hate Amerikka Left under the direction of Antonio Gramsci's ghost.
It's interesting to reflect on those days when a goofball English professor who wrote very bad poetry might have made it to the White House. But the Kennedy machine put a stop to that, souring many youthful political neophytes while little realizing that its own days were numbered.
Smith is right to remind us of those days long gone and scarcely acknowledged by young people today. The 1960s, far from the vaunted Age of Aquarius, marked the violent beginning of the end of the domination of the US Government by racist Democrats. The Dems were the bad guys then and the Repubs won 1968 almost by default. But revisionist history since then has left a great many Americans convinced that the Republicans, the party of Lincoln, were the historical racists who also got us into Vietnam, and that somehow, the evils of capitalism, rather than deranged Communist and Islamist assassins, brought down the twin flowers of a Camelot that never was. (Oddly, the earlier Bobby was quite the Commie fighter back in the days of the "old" Senator McCarthy.)
But no matter. Eugene the Weird will live on in the flowery memories of the hundreds of thousands of once and future Boomer hippies who crusaded for him.
It is possible that today's young people will never understand the 1960s. That decade and its continuing aftermath are being fuzzed over by revisionist history books lauding the traitorous left as modern patriots. But perhaps worse, the collapse of America's best-educated generation of youth into a babbling horde of vulgar, middle-aged, slogan-shouting swine driving Ford Excursions while cursing Exxon's environmental record is probably in the end, inexplicable to all save the Almighty, Who, even now, may be questioning the intelligence of His own design.