All you need to know about McGovern is that Bobby Kennedy, the last politician with national ambitions who truly gave a damn about the least of us, called him “the most decent man in the Senate.” I’m trying to finish a class project, so I’ll outsource this to Charlie Pierce and Hunter Thompson.
Pierce: “The worst thing that ever happened to the Democratic party in this country is that, when McGovern lost so big to history’s yard waste in 1972, the rest of the party was complicit in turning him — and the politics he represented — into a punchline for the next 20 years. He was the template. He was the first war-hero Democrat — you don’t fly 35 missions in a B-24 and come away with a DFC without a big clanging pair of brass ones, kids — who was accused of being a wimp by a flock of chickenhawks.”
Thompson: “ The tragedy of all this is that George McGovern, for all his mistakes … understands what a fantastic monument to all the best instincts of the human race this country might have been, if we could have kept it out of the hands of greedy little hustlers like Richard Nixon.”
Actually, I’ll let one of Pierce’s commenters, Barry Friedman, have the last word: “Forget the birthday greetings. This country owes him an apology.”