Monday, January 16, 2006

McCarthy's Memorial Service News Coverage

In direct contravention of the copyright laws of the United States of America and the normal practices of the cyberprovince of Upper Bloggovia, presented in full below are the news stories covering Saturday's memorial service for Senator Eugene J. McCarthy. Bottom line: it wasn't a funeral; it was a celebration.

Naturally the Slangwhanger-in-Chief attended and, by dint of early arrival on that blustery windy day, sat about six rows behind Sen. E. M. Kennedy and Pres. W. J. Clinton. The news says 800 people were present. What that meant was the whole damn Cathedral was full. Not standing in the aisles overflowing outside full, like it was for the Dalai Lama's appearance, but all the seats all the way to the back full full.

It was peculiar to be the sole McCarty family representative to the McCarthy family's occasion, but Patrick and Mary Beth were in Minnesota seeing McCarthy's Senate Legislative Assistant's widow Sr. Arleen Hynes OSB. At the memorial service were McCarthy's Senate Administrative Assistant Jerry Eller's widow Donna and their daughters Raina and Steve. Steve had assisted author Kitty Kelley on her Bush dynasty book and they are working on another. Kelley was there too; her first DC job was on McCarthy's Senate staff as a press aide. McCarthy's Senate Secretary Susan B. Perry completed the Senate staff contingent.

A surprise among the dignitaries not mentioned in the stories below was Rep. Steney Hoyer of Maryland, but he is Catholic, after all. May he have received some spine stiffening from Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota's forthright eulogy. As reported below in insufficient detail, Oberstar urged Congress, when dealing with Iraq, to remember (and possibly even emulate) McCarthy's bravery in resisting the illegal, immoral, dishonorable, disastrous, unnecessary and unsuccessful war in Vietnam. Ex-Congressman Fr. Bob Drinan SJ, whose antiwar and pro-social justice stance so offended the Vatican that he was forced not to run for reelection, was one of the concelebrants.

Notably present was John E. Clay, the Illinois lawyer who practiced with Adlai Stevenson and who served as McCarthy's Vice Presidential running mate in his Independent bid of 1976. Other 1976 stalwarts visible were lawyer Jim Ostmann, the Rev. John Boyles, and advisors Tom McCoy and Mike Rubino from the intelligence community. Sought but not attested at the Cathedral were 1976 staffers Keith Burris, Mary Meehan, Ron Cocome and Judy Smith.

The best revived McCarthy line came from son Michael's eulogy when he recalled his father being asked if running in 1968 was political suicide. McCarthy said, "There'll be no suicide but there may be an execution." As one of the 1968 convention floor veterans remarked, "McCarthy could always count the votes accurately, but he never let it bother him." Daughter Ellen's reminder that her father got a lot more accomplished than Don Quixote ever did was a salutary and bracing corrective to a persistent media image.

Media stars included Al Eisele, who covered McCarthy in the Senate for Knight Ridder and recently retired as editor of The Hill, and Chris Matthews of MSNBC sporting a McCarthy button. KPFA-FM Visionary Activist Show's Caroline W. Casey didn't have a McCarthy button but did have a magnificent hat. New Yorker writer Joan Acocella, who co-organized Texas for McCarthy in 1968, was listed in the guest book but must have slipped away before the reception afterwards. Mercifully too abashed and ashamed to be present were some of those who habitually traduced and calumniated McCarthy such as Blair Clark, David S. Broder, Sally Quinn, and George F. Will.

Brother Austin was too ill to travel from Minnesota but his daughter Mary Beth Yarrow supplemented her Scriptural reading with a tribute to her uncle. PBS journalist and family friend Mary Alice Williams almost stole the eulogy sweepstakes with a reminiscence of McCarthy's going back to the Minnesota county fairs and knowing which was the town where the librarian had a scandal with the grain elevator operator and which was the town famous for summer sausages.

The family side of the aisle was as full as the friends side, with the family (including McCarthy's surviving sister) processing following a Black Watch-kilted bagpiper playing Amazing Grace. There was at least one baby and one toddler to prove the Irishness of it all. The baby cried when the kettledrums thundered Aaron Copeland's Fanfare for the Common Man but was forgiven faster than she was shushed.

Clinton Eulogizes Sen. Eugene McCarthy
The Associated Press
Saturday, January 14, 2006; 3:48 PM

WASHINGTON -- Former President Clinton eulogized the late Minnesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy on Saturday for helping to shift momentum against the Vietnam War with his 1968 presidential campaign.

"It all started when Gene McCarthy was willing to stand alone and turn the tide of history," Clinton said at a memorial service at the Washington National Cathedral.

(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
Former President Clinton delivers a tribute to late Minnesota Sen. Eugene J. McCarthy from the lectern at the National Cathedral on Saturday, Jan. 14, 2006, in Washington.

McCarthy, who died last month at 89, mounted an anti-war challenge to President Johnson for the 1968 Democratic nomination, leading to Johnson's withdrawal from the race after the New Hampshire presidential primary.

About 800 people, some wearing McCarthy campaign buttons, attended the memorial. A bagpipe procession started the service, and Peter Yarrow of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary sang This Land Is Your Land and other songs.

(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
Peter Yarrow and daughter Bethany Yarrow sing "Sweet Survivor" for McCarthy's family.

The audience was filled with friends, family members and lawmakers, including Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, D-Mass. Kennedy's brother, the late New York Sen. Robert Kennedy, rankled McCarthy by jumping in the '68 race after McCarthy's strong showing in New Hampshire. Vice President Hubert Humphrey won the nomination that year and then lost to Republican Richard Nixon.

(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
Sen. Edward Kennedy and President Bill Clinton greet each other.

Clinton recalled meeting McCarthy as a young man in the early 1970s. The future president was having trouble locating a pair of large shoes to wear to a black-tie Washington dinner, and a friend said he knew someone with even bigger shoes.

A couple of days later, Clinton said, McCarthy came by with a pair of shoes to lend.

"That night, I stood in Gene McCarthy's shoes," Clinton said to laughter. At the dinner, he decided to pass up a receiving line for President Nixon.

"It just didn't seem the right thing to do wearing McCarthy's shoes," Clinton said to more laughter and applause.

Decades later, Clinton found himself at a 1992 Democratic presidential debate with McCarthy. Even though McCarthy was not a serious candidate, Clinton said, "It was seriously uncomfortable to be on the wrong end of his wit."

Clinton was willing to overlook a far more serious challenge by speaking at the memorial service. In 1998, at the height of Clinton's impeachment scandal, McCarthy called for the president to resign or be impeached.

"He's been running a pretty messy presidency in terms of constitutionality and tradition," McCarthy said.

It was that contrarian streak that won McCarthy both admirers and detractors.

Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., said that McCarthy's critique of the Vietnam War has echoes in the debate today over Iraq.

"Gene McCarthy showed us the moral force of politics without preaching," Oberstar said.

(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
Rep. Jim Oberstar of Minnesota delivers McCarthy eulogy.

Two of McCarthy's children, Michael McCarthy and Ellen McCarthy, also gave tributes at the service, as did journalist Mary Alice Williams, a family friend.

(AP Photo/Kevin Wolf)
McCarthy eulogists President Clinton, Congressman Oberstar, and PBS journalist Mary Alice Williams.

The New York Times January 15, 2006
Hundreds Honor McCarthy as Man Who Changed History

WASHINGTON, Jan. 14 - Eugene J. McCarthy, the Minnesota senator who upended President Lyndon B. Johnson's re-election effort amid the Vietnam War tumult of 1968, was remembered at a service on Saturday as a man of sharp intellect, broad curiosity and a deep sense of justice and compassion.

An audience of about 800, including Senator Edward M. Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts, Ralph Nader and John D. Podesta, President Bill Clinton's last chief of staff, gathered at the National Cathedral here, where lawmakers, relatives and friends spoke of a humble and independent-minded leader who opposed the Vietnam War and believed that politics could make a difference in the lives of ordinary citizens.

Mr. Clinton, who eulogized Mr. McCarthy, said he had been instrumental in building pressure to stop the war.

"It all began with Gene McCarthy's willingness to stand alone and turn the tide of history," Mr. Clinton said.

With the war taking thousands of American and Vietnamese lives, Mr. McCarthy, an unabashed liberal, stoked a national debate over the war and over the model of an all-powerful presidency. He challenged Johnson in the New Hampshire primary in 1968, and Johnson, facing almost certain defeat, withdrew from the race. The Democratic party machine then forced the nomination of Vice President Hubert H. Humphrey to face President Richard M. Nixon. But Mr. McCarthy became the quintessential candidate of the Vietnam War protest movement.

"We do not need presidents who are bigger than the country, but rather ones who speak for it and support it," Mr. McCarthy told his supporters, the "Clean for Gene" legions who embraced his candor.

On Saturday, Mr. Clinton spoke of Mr. McCarthy's central role in the upheaval that occurred in 1968, a year during which Robert F. Kennedy and the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. were assassinated. "One thing remained constant," Mr. Clinton said. "The country had turned against the war."

Mr. McCarthy died last month of complications related to Parkinson's disease at an assisted-living home in Washington's Georgetown neighborhood. He was 89.

Mr. McCarthy took on a contrarian role in the Democratic Party, even endorsing Ronald Reagan, the Republican candidate for president in 1980, rather than Jimmy Carter. Indeed, in 1998 Mr. McCarthy called for the resignation of President Clinton, who he said had "been running a pretty messy presidency in terms of constitutionality and tradition."

He was a habitual presidential campaigner, running in 1972, 1976, 1988 and 1992. Some of the audience wore McCarthy campaign buttons and nodded approvingly at the testimonials. Others were there for a bit of a history lesson.

Bill Gallery, 23, who lives in Washington and works at an international development firm in Bethesda, Md., said: "I had read about McCarthy, and I knew about his role in Democratic and progressive politics. But I thought it would be interesting and, well, educational to come and hear those who knew him."

Representative James L. Oberstar, Democrat of Minnesota, told the audience, "Gene McCarthy showed us moral force in politics without preaching."

Two of Mr. McCarthy's children, Michael and Ellen, also spoke at the service. Mr. McCarthy's son joked that his father had once suggested the Freedom of Information Act ought to afford people the right to review their obituaries before they die.

"He thought it would make reporters be more careful," he recalled his father saying.

McCarthy called prophet and poet
Rob Hotakainen
January 14, 2006 – 10:41 PM
The Minnesota Democrat was eulogized for showing "the moral force of politics" as mourners, many wearing their '68 campaign buttons, paid respects to the poet-politician who died Dec. 10 at 89

WASHINGTON - In the summer of 1970, a young activist named Bill Clinton needed a pair of black shoes after landing an invitation to a black-tie dinner. His friend Dick helped out.

"Dick said he had a friend whose feet were as big as mine who might loan me a pair," Clinton said. "And a couple days later, Gene McCarthy, then serving in his last months in the Senate, showed up with his shoes. We sat on the porch ... and talked for quite a little while. He was in a good mood and I was impressed. And that night I wore Senator McCarthy's shoes to the black-tie dinner. President Nixon was also there, standing in a receiving line. I walked up to it, but I didn't go through. It just didn't seem the right thing to do wearing McCarthy's shoes. I still think a lot about those shoes and how one way or the other, every national Democrat since 1968 has had to walk in them."

Clinton led the eulogies Saturday as official Washington bid farewell to the former Democratic senator from Minnesota. At least 800 people showed up at the National Cathedral to celebrate McCarthy, who was hailed as a prophet and a peacemaker, a people's politician and a poet.

"He had no message of the day, spoke with no notes, but was always succinct and pointed and funny and graceful, punctuating policy with poetry, not because some speechwriter inserted it, but because he loved it, and he knew it by heart. He said reading poetry was at least as important as reading the Chicago Tribune," said Mary Alice Williams, a family friend who recalled going to Minnesota fairs to campaign with McCarthy when she was 6 years old.

'Extraordinary illumination'

Peter Yarrow, of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, led the audience in singing Woody Guthrie's "This Land is Your Land." He urged McCarthy's friends "to carry on the extraordinary illumination that he provided."

McCarthy, who served 22 years in the House and Senate, died on Dec. 10 at age 89. At his memorial service, many people wore McCarthy buttons from his 1968 presidential campaign, which chased Lyndon Johnson from the White House.

Clinton called that race McCarthy's greatest moment. "Even Nixon had to say he had a plan to end [the Vietnam War] ... It all began with Gene McCarthy's willingness to stand alone and turn the tide of history," Clinton said.

Clinton said McCarthy was an "eloquent and powerful" public speaker who made politicians respectable: "He proved we could play baseball and write poetry, actually read and even write serious books. And he brought honor to our profession."

McCarthy's daughter, Ellen McCarthy, said that "tilting at windmills was certainly a hallmark of Dad's career." She recalled how he defeated an incumbent congressman in 1948, was the first member of Congress to debate Joe McCarthy on television and worked to advance civil rights and equal rights.

The family was clearly touched by the outpouring of support it has received since McCarthy died in his Georgetown retirement residence.

His son, Michael McCarthy, said: "Dad used to say that he felt that under the Freedom of Information Act you should have the ability to review the obituaries that newspapers write about you ahead of time so that he could write a rebuttal ... But he would have been quite happy with many of the things that have been written."

'That piercing judgment'

Rep. Jim Oberstar, D-Minn., said McCarthy "showed us the moral force of politics without preaching" and he recited McCarthy's words from the 1968 race, when he said he was "concerned that the administration seems to have set no limits to the price which it is willing to pay for military victory."

"That piercing judgment haunts us today with the impeccable clarity, truth and power with which Gene McCarthy framed that thought 39 years ago," Oberstar said. "Like a prophet of the Old Testament, Gene McCarthy foreshadowed then what we are living now."

Memories of Past War Rekindled at McCarthy Service
By Mary Beth Sheridan
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 15, 2006; C03
Politicians, Others Honor Principles of Senator

It had been nearly 40 years since Eugene J. McCarthy stood up to a president from his own party and became the voice of America's disenchantment with the Vietnam War. Yesterday, hundreds of youths he once inspired, now graying professionals, gathered at the Washington National Cathedral for a memorial service that honored him as a man of courage and integrity.

The service for McCarthy, who died Dec. 10 at 89, was attended by former president Bill Clinton, consumer advocate Ralph Nader, TV news show host Chris Matthews and Sen. Edward M. Kennedy (D-Mass.), whose brother Robert was once McCarthy's rival for the presidency.

But it was less a political see-and-be-seen than a reunion of friends and baby boomers who said McCarthy had touched their lives with a message of hope.

The year 1968 "was a pivotal year for the country, and it was for many of us who worked in the campaign," said Genie Grohman, who quit her government job as a program analyst then to support McCarthy's presidential bid. The Northwest Washington resident is now 65 and wears her hair in a gray bun. But yesterday, she proudly donned the blue-and-white McCarthy button of her youth.

The two-hour service drew about 800 people, according to a church spokesman. It featured tributes by Clinton; Rep. James L. Oberstar (D), from McCarthy's native Minnesota; two of McCarthy's children, Michael and Ellen; and TV journalist Mary Alice Williams, whose family and McCarthy's were longtime friends. Peter Yarrow, of the folk group Peter, Paul and Mary, serenaded the crowd with such ballads (sic) as This Land Is Your Land.

(By Michel Du Cille -- The Washington Post)
After paying tribute to her father, Ellen McCarthy passes former president Bill Clinton, Rep. James L. Oberstar and journalist Mary Alice Williams.

Speakers recalled McCarthy as a man who risked his political career for his principles, launching such a stunning challenge to Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1968 Democratic primary that the president quit the race.

McCarthy's candidacy was eclipsed when Sen. Robert F. Kennedy (D-N.Y.) entered the race. Johnson's vice president, Hubert H. Humphrey, won the nomination after Kennedy was assassinated. Richard M. Nixon, a Republican, would go on to capture the presidency.

Speakers remarked yesterday that McCarthy's forceful antiwar arguments have particular resonance at a time when the United States is again deeply involved in a foreign conflict.

"Gene McCarthy foreshadowed then what we are living now," said Oberstar, quoting a McCarthy criticism that the Johnson administration accepted "no limits for the price it is willing to pay for military victory."

Clinton recalled the turbulent year of 1968, when the country was rocked by the assassinations of Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.

"One thing remained constant: The country had turned against the war," the former president recalled. "It all began with Gene McCarthy willing to stand alone and change the tide of history."

Clinton remembered how, as a young man in Washington, he was invited to a black-tie dinner but owned no black shoes. He wound up borrowing them from a fellow Democrat with big feet -- McCarthy. At the dinner, Clinton said, he decided not to pass through the receiving line for Nixon.

"It didn't seem the right thing to do, wearing McCarthy's shoes," he said, prompting a burst of applause.

"In one way or another," he added, "every Democrat since '68 has had to walk in them."

McCarthy was remembered as the most unusual of politicians, a man who relished the hand-shaking frenzy of campaigns but also read philosophy and poetry. He had a stinging wit but was known for acts of kindness.

Chris Risley, 52, lives in Ontario, Canada, but can remember stuffing envelopes for McCarthy's campaign when he was a teenager in Alexandria.

"It was just a vibrant time," he said at the cathedral. "There was a real sense of awakening, that we could change things."


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