Discussion:
1968--Dovish Hubert Humphrey vs. Hawkish Eugene McCarthy?
(too old to reply)
David Tenner
2018-04-21 14:18:25 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
"Albert Eisele and others have contended that had their positions been
reversed in 1964, Hubert Humphrey and Gene McCarthy would have found
themselves in similarly reversed positions in 1968. McCarthy was one of
the most likely choices for Lyndon Johnson's running mate in 1964. He was
a personal favorite of the Johnson's and a northern liberal, which
provided a good balance to Johnson's more conservative Southern appeal,
just as Humphrey did. He was articulate and had a genuine flair. Even more
important, though, he was a Catholic, and was so at a time when LBJ was
under considerable pressure to justify his *not* choosing Bobby Kennedy as
his running mate. Nevertheless, as the convention neared it became clear
that McCarthy was no longer being seriously considered by Johnson. When he
felt that he was simply being manipulated by the Johnson machine, McCarthy
broke with it. Many have, consequently, seen McCarthy's run for the
presidency in 1968 as nothing more than a grudge match in response to
this. If McCarthy *had* been chosen as Johnson's running mate, Humphrey
would have remained in the Senate as the leading figure that he was. He
thus would not have been forced by both personal and professional
constriants into a position that many regard as his downfall, namely, of
becoming the administration's leading spokesman for its involvement in
Vietnam. Humphrey, as the theory continues,would have been free to be
critical of the administration's policy in Vietnam, and McCarthy instead
would have been faced with the extremely difficult position with which
Humphrey actually ended up having to contend." Charles Lloyd Garrettson,
*Hubert H. Humphrey: The Politics of Joy*
http://books.google.com/books?id=YRTeKY1xcVUC&pg=PA157

McCarthy was definitely a hawk on Vietnam in 1964. To quote Dominic
Sandbrook in *Eugene McCarthy: The Rise and Fall of Postwar American
Liberalism*, pp. 126-27:

"McCarthy himself, his mind on the vice presidency, had no doubt that the
Gulf of Tonkin resolution was justified and necessary. 'The strength of
America,' he wrote to his constituents, 'is not just the strength of its
military power but also the strength of its reputation, honoring its word
and keeping its commitment. All of these things were involved in the
President's action, which has been sustained by the Congress.' On the
television show *Face the Nation*, he said, 'It was a matter of responding
to a direct attack on our ships. The escalation came from the enemy.'
Johnson, McCarthy thought, must have no doubts about his vice president's
commitment to the existing policy in Vietnam, His Minnesota friend Gerald
Heaney recalled, 'He made it clear that he felt we were committed in
Vietnam and we'd have to see it through to the end.' McCarthy added that
his rival for the vice presidency, Hubert Humphrey, was more likely to
abandon that commitment, telling Heaney, 'He might be inclined to tell the
editor of the *New York Times* that he goes along with it because he has
to but that we ought to be doing something different.' McCarthy even asked
Heaney to point this out to Johnson himself...

"Even after his vice presidential hopes had been dashed, McCarthy's
fidelity to the administration never wavered. 'I do not think we can
simply withdraw our forces and abandon the people of South Viet Nam,' he
wrote, dismissing the idea of neutralization. 'Our experience with a
supposedly neutral Laos has been none too encouraging.' In a debate with
his Republican opponent in Minnesota, he even refused to rule out an
invasion of North Vietnam. At the end of the year he explained to a
Minnesota clergyman that Johnson's policy was the best way of reconciling
the twin goals of peace and containment: 'I supported the actions of the
Eisenhower and Kennedy Administrations in this area, and beleive that the
policy of the Johnson Administration in limiting the action to South
Vietnam and keeping the use of force to a minimum is at least the best
immediate policy.' In short, at the end of 1964 there was no reason to
imagine that McCarthy would remain anything other than a wholehearted
supporter of the American involvement in Southeast Asia."
http://books.google.com/books?id=wMqSzTPXl7QC&pg=PA126

It is of course true that most of the members of Congress who voted for
the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and supported LBJ's Vietnam policy in 1964
had no idea that within a few years that would be half a million American
soldiers in Vietnam. So it is certainly possible that McCarthy would
"evolve" toward an increasingly anti-war position as vice president the
way he did as senator. Yet I wouldn't count on it. Besides the
expectations that a vice president be "loyal" to the president, there is
also the fact that (as Sandbrook notes) in OTL McCarthy was undoubtedly
influenced by the fact that in 1965 he joined the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, and was exposed to the views of Senator Fulbright and the
committee's dovish staff:

"It is quite probable that the very fact of being on the Foreign Relations
Committee and exposed to the ideas of Fulbright and his staff was a
crucial fact in the evolution of McCarthy's thinking, *without which he
might have remained relatively quiet on Vietnam* [my emphasis--DT] From
1965 onward, in fact, the committee became the single most important forum
in Congress for criticism of the Vietnam imbroglio, not least because it
was the only committee in either house with a chairman who opposed the
war..." http://books.google.com/books?id=wMqSzTPXl7QC&pg=PA129

As for Humphrey, some support for the idea that if not for loyalty to LBJ,
he might have been a dove on Vietnam can be found in his memorandum of
February 15, 1965, where among other things he noted that "It is always
hard to cut losses. But the Johnson administration is in a stronger
position to do so now than any administration in this century. 1965 is the
year of minimum political risk for the Johnson administration. Indeed, it
is the first year when we can face the Vietnam problem without being
preoccupied with the political repercussions from the Republican right. As
indicated earlier, our political problems are likely to come from new and
different sources (Democratic liberals, independents, labor) if we pursue
an enlarged military policy very long." For the full text of this
memorandum--which was quite prescient in several respects--see
http://books.google.com/books?id=YRTeKY1xcVUC&pg=PA323 (Of course to say
that a Humphrey who stayed in the Senate might have been a dove does not
necessarily mean he would challenge LBJ in 1968. Challenging an incumbent
president in the primaries is a long-shot gamble and Humphrey may just not
have had the temperament for it. Still, Humphrey was capable of taking
risks--a lot of people thought he was running risks by trying to get a
strong civil rights plank into the 1948 Democratic platform in the teeth
of opposition from the party's leaders.)

So *if* LBJ had chosen McCarthy instrad of Humphrey as his running mate in
1964, the idea that 1968 might see a dovish Humphrey running against a
hawkish McCarthy is not totally implausible. The question is whether it is
really plausible that LBJ *would* have chosen McCarthy instead of Humphrey
in 1964. LBJ toyed with the idea, but I don't think it's too likely he
would have done so. For one thing, Robert Kennedy and his circle were dead
set against the idea. If LBJ wasn't going to choose RFK, McCarthy as a
Catholic "substitute" would be an insult. Kennedy's supporters much
preferred Humphrey. (McCarthy made things worse by criticizing RFK's
decision to run for the Senate from New York.) Also, of course, the unions
preferred Humphrey, and he seemed more likely to help the party in the
Midwest. McCarthy had southern support because he was less identified with
civil rights than Humphrey--even James Eastland urged LBJ to pick
McCarthy!--but LBJ was writing off the South or at least the Deep South,
anyway. Also, Humphrey was really more LBJ's type as a politician than the
poetry-writing, Aquinas-expounding McCarthy. Finally, the only member of
LBJ's inner circle who really favored McCarthy was Walter Jenkins. So all
in all, I don't think McCarthy had too much of a chance. But if he had
been chosen, I don't see it implausible for him to end up much more
hawkish than Humphrey.
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Rich Rostrom
2018-04-22 21:55:05 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
So all in all, I don't think McCarthy had too much
of a chance. But if he had been chosen, I don't see
it implausible for him to end up much more hawkish
than Humphrey.
Well, WI LBJ decides he really needs a Catholic, _and_
he wants to step on RFK's toes (perhaps because RFK
offends him personally)?
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
David Tenner
2018-04-22 22:36:27 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by Rich Rostrom
So all in all, I don't think McCarthy had too much
of a chance. But if he had been chosen, I don't see
it implausible for him to end up much more hawkish
than Humphrey.
Well, WI LBJ decides he really needs a Catholic, _and_
he wants to step on RFK's toes (perhaps because RFK
offends him personally)?
What if the Republican incumbent Elmer L. Andersen had won the extremely
close election for governor of Minnesota in 1962?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_gubernatorial_election,_1962 Might
that make LBJ hesistant to choose *either* senator from Minnesota as his
running mate, because a Republican would name his successor? One vote seldom
matters in the House, but in the Senate it can be a different story...
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
WolfBear
2018-04-23 00:04:56 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by David Tenner
Post by Rich Rostrom
So all in all, I don't think McCarthy had too much
of a chance. But if he had been chosen, I don't see
it implausible for him to end up much more hawkish
than Humphrey.
Well, WI LBJ decides he really needs a Catholic, _and_
he wants to step on RFK's toes (perhaps because RFK
offends him personally)?
What if the Republican incumbent Elmer L. Andersen had won the extremely
close election for governor of Minnesota in 1962?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_gubernatorial_election,_1962 Might
that make LBJ hesistant to choose *either* senator from Minnesota as his
running mate, because a Republican would name his successor? One vote seldom
matters in the House, but in the Senate it can be a different story...
--
David Tenner
I'm not sure if it would have made much of a difference. After all, Northern Republicans were also extremely reliable votes for civil rights legislation, no?
David Tenner
2018-04-23 00:54:02 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by WolfBear
Post by David Tenner
Post by Rich Rostrom
So all in all, I don't think McCarthy had too much
of a chance. But if he had been chosen, I don't see
it implausible for him to end up much more hawkish
than Humphrey.
Well, WI LBJ decides he really needs a Catholic, _and_
he wants to step on RFK's toes (perhaps because RFK
offends him personally)?
What if the Republican incumbent Elmer L. Andersen had won the
extremely close election for governor of Minnesota in 1962?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_gubernatorial_election,_1962
Might that make LBJ hesistant to choose *either* senator from Minnesota
as his running mate, because a Republican would name his successor?
One vote seldom matters in the House, but in the Senate it can be a
different story...
--
David Tenner
I'm not sure if it would have made much of a difference. After all,
Northern Republicans were also extremely reliable votes for civil rights
legislation, no?
Most, but not all. Five non-southern Republicans voted No on cloture--
Wallace F. Bennett (Utah), Barry Goldwater (Ariz.), Edwin L. Mechem (N.M.),
Milward L. Simpson (Wyo.), and Milton R. Young (N.D.). So did John G. Tower
Texas).. https://tinyurl.com/y83zc2z6

In any event, there were plenty of important issues other than civil rights
on which Republicans were much less supportive.of legislation favored by the
administration. Medicare lost in the Senate in 1962 by 52 to 48, with the
overwhelming majority of Republicans (and 21 Democrats) opposing it. Only
five Republicans supported it: Clifford Case (NJ), Jacob Javits (NY), Kenneth
Keating (NY), Thomas Kuchel (CA), and John Sherman Coooper (KY). Even such
moderate Republicans as Hugh Scott (PA) and George Aiken (VT) and Leverett
Saltonstall (MA) voted against it.
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
David Tenner
2018-04-23 05:13:19 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by David Tenner
What if the Republican incumbent Elmer L. Andersen had won the extremely
close election for governor of Minnesota in 1962?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Minnesota_gubernatorial_election,_1962
Might that make LBJ hesistant to choose *either* senator from Minnesota
as his running mate, because a Republican would name his successor? One
vote seldom matters in the House, but in the Senate it can be a
different story...
When I posted this I had forgotten that McCarthy was up for re-election in
1964, and that if he were on the national ticket, presumably another Democrat
(Mondale?) would run for the Senate and be strongly favored to win. So a
Repuiblican governor would not really be an argument against McCarthy on the
ticket, though arguably it would be a consideration against Humphrey.
--
David Tenner
***@ameritech.net
Rich Rostrom
2018-04-26 08:03:48 UTC
Permalink
Raw Message
Post by David Tenner
When I posted this I had forgotten that McCarthy was up for re-election in
1964, and that if he were on the national ticket, presumably another Democrat
(Mondale?) would run for the Senate and be strongly favored to win. So a
Repuiblican governor would not really be an argument against McCarthy on the
ticket, though arguably it would be a consideration against Humphrey.
That makes a great PoD: Andersen beats Rohlvaag;
therefore LBJ rules out Humphrey;
therefore LBJ picks McCarthy.
--
Nous sommes dans une pot de chambre, et nous y serons emmerdés.
--- General Auguste-Alexandre Ducrot at Sedan, 1870.
Loading...