TheButterflyComposer

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favourite thing about it is the insistence on including Crewe. I mean, I know all rails lead there at some point or another, but… on a Eurotunnel teatowel? Really?
Well it is a major interchange. For whatever reason. Likewise, Preston being on the other one makes sense, as it too is very large and a big interchange, for whatever reason.

It’s a difficult feat, but somehow he manages it
Less torture technician and more outright genocide I suppose. The Fat C does what he does for fun and profit. Beeching just really seems to hate trains. In another life, he's sodor's sole anarchist.
 
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Here we go, the Democrats are going left, the Republicans are going...Well, rather hard right since they seem to be trying to appeal to anti-black white votes. Add to that a popular reform candidate getting gunned down by a foreign national...

Ooo. The 70s are going to suck for the US. They are not going to handle any oil crisis (or any crisis at all really) very well...
Restitutor Orbis

- RZ
 
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Well it is a major interchange. For whatever reason. Likewise, Preston being on the other one makes sense, as it too is very large and a big interchange, for whatever reason.
Yes, there’s literally no getting round it I suppose.

Maybe, among all the tourist spots on the rest of the map, there’s one concession to the spotters?

Less torture technician and more outright genocide I suppose. The Fat C does what he does for fun and profit. Beeching just really seems to hate trains. In another life, he's sodor's sole anarchist.
Hmm… Now I’m imagining a Thomas/V for Vendetta crossover where the Fat Controller’s draconian rule is a reaction to Beeching’s terror campaign. Beeching would be the anti-V in many ways, of course, but maybe it could work?

Restitutor Orbis

- RZ
RZ, eh? Robert Zimmerman, perhaps? Is Bob Dylan on his way to save his all?

:p
 
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Distracting myself from the Jack Grealish news by (what else?) watching interviews with 1970s trade union leaders, and I would just like to draw attention to the unparalleled fashion choices of this gentleman:

BFD033B1-2888-4D82-8830-C50E6B8557E8.jpeg


Bring back the days when public servants had the confidence to sport two hairstyles at once, I say!

All of this – and more! – we can look forward to in volume 2…

(Normal service resuming soon, with (I think) a look in at the Democratic convention ft. William F. Buckley Jr.)
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Hmm… Now I’m imagining a Thomas/V for Vendetta crossover where the Fat Controller’s draconian rule is a reaction to Beeching’s terror campaign. Beeching would be the anti-V in many ways, of course, but maybe it could work?
Given the railway series, and esspcially the first version of the TV show, are notable for having examples of every single British industry that was in the process of death, decline or obsolescence...logging, manufacturing, iron and steel works, mining both coal and other minerals, rock quarries, fishing, cottage industry baking, cotton mill (think this was was so ridiculous even Sodor dropped it) etc etc...

Yeah, bascially The Fat C waged a one man war on modernisation and Time Itself, and seems to have won in a few ways...even dismal diesel engines started showing up when they were mainstream but begining to be replaced with electric and more modern superfast trains.

And then the superfast Eurostar type engines started showing up when they were out of date. Most of the main engines in the books/show are now over a hundred years old however. The aging regime has to start breaking down at some point, right???
 
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Given the railway series, and esspcially the first version of the TV show, are notable for having examples of every single British industry that was in the process of death, decline or obsolescence...logging, manufacturing, iron and steel works, mining both coal and other minerals, rock quarries, fishing, cottage industry baking, cotton mill (think this was was so ridiculous even Sodor dropped it) etc etc...
Seeing as Pip hasn't caught up yet, I'll make my own jokes about Bevan taking notes for his economic policy

Yeah, bascially The Fat C waged a one man war on modernisation and Time Itself, and seems to have won in a few ways...even dismal diesel engines started showing up when they were mainstream but begining to be replaced with electric and more modern superfast trains.
Sounds not unlike South Wales, frankly. Arriva only just got rid of their Pacers – and that (I believe) was because they fell foul of accessibility legislation, rather than because anyone with the power to do so particularly wanted to shell out for new trains.

The aging regime has to start breaking down at some point, right???
One always thinks so, but these things tend to have a depressingly reliably capacity for confounding expectations…
 
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Anuerin

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I enjoy how much Buckley condemns the left going beyond political attacks to personal ones on JFK, while doing the same thing sometimes in the same paragraphs. A giant of two track thinking.
 
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My favourite thing about it is the insistence on including Crewe. I mean, I know all rails lead there at some point or another, but… on a Eurotunnel teatowel? Really?

There was another cool poster for the night services:

View attachment 745462

It includes Sunderland - a good half of rail posters in the North East don't include Sunderland. A brave world indeed...
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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I enjoy how much Buckley condemns the left going beyond political attacks to personal ones on JFK, while doing the same thing sometimes in the same paragraphs. A giant of two track thinking.
The Left are of course sinister anti-capitalist fools who are bitter about not succeeding in the free market, whilst also simultaneously are in charge of the mainstream media and public universities. Given how disorganised and disunited the Left actually is, this is quite an achievement.

The Right meanwhile are usually in charge of most things, which is a problem because they seem to hate almost everything currently going on.

I'm not sure which side lives in the worst version of the world...
 
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I enjoy how much Buckley condemns the left going beyond political attacks to personal ones on JFK, while doing the same thing sometimes in the same paragraphs. A giant of two track thinking.
Ah but you see, it’s perfectly acceptable when he does it. Right-wing hypocrisy is a myth, dear fellow.

It includes Sunderland - a good half of rail posters in the North East don't include Sunderland. A brave world indeed...
Let it be known that in the Commonwealth, there shall be train-map representation for all.

The Left are of course sinister anti-capitalist fools who are bitter about not succeeding in the free market, whilst also simultaneously are in charge of the mainstream media and public universities. Given how disorganised and disunited the Left actually is, this is quite an achievement.

The Right meanwhile are usually in charge of most things, which is a problem because they seem to hate almost everything currently going on.

I'm not sure which side lives in the worst version of the world...
I'm going to go out on a limb and say, on balance, it is very much a worse time to be of the Left than of the Right.
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Let it be known that in the Commonwealth, there shall be train-map representation for all.
That will be a challenge.
I'm going to go out on a limb and say, on balance, it is very much a worse time to be of the Left than of the Right.
In practice and in theory. Because they aren't in control in practice, which leaves them lots of time to diverge in theory as to why.
 
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So here's something I'll throw out to anyone who wants to take it up…

I was looking back over some old notes earlier and remembered that, per established canon, Trotsky came to the Commonwealth in 1935. The last reference to him was in 1943, when Litvinov defected to the Commonwealth; Trotsky was apparently still alive at this point, but I never really went into detail with repercussions.

OTL he was in bad health anyway by the time of his murder in 1940, but with a what was likely a more comfortable life in Britain (and the presumed benefit of the Syndicated Health) there's no hard reason why he couldn't live into the 1950's. Question is: what does our very-much-still-alive alt-Trotsky get up to in the meantime?

One idea I had off the top of my head concerns Trotsky's influence on CLR James, and from this the influence of Trotskyism on Black and African liberation movements. Maybe we see a situation where, by the second half of the century, a form of 'Third Worldist' Marxism emerges derived from Trotsky and not Mao?

Or maybe old Leon just retires to a life of writing increasingly esoteric pamphlets about permanent revolution that get ignored by everyone in Mosley's Britain…

Either way, thought this was one butterfly that deserved not to be passed over completely…
 
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TheButterflyComposer

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Meh. Hopefully he doesn't become a ridiculous over hyped communist angel compared to demon stalin.

Which shouldn't happen here, as pretty much every communist in the country is going to go talk to him and realise he genuinely wants to violently conquer the planet...
 
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Meh. Hopefully he doesn't become a ridiculous over hyped communist angel compared to demon stalin.

Which shouldn't happen here, as pretty much every communist in the country is going to go talk to him and realise he genuinely wants to violently conquer the planet...
Yes, I agree. And in hindsight most of the reason he was never heard of again is probably because… why would he be? I certainly don’t think he’s going to come up with any startlingly original analysis in his final years. Which, if anything, means Britain doesn’t end up with its weird Trot obsession in the 70s onwards…

I am a bit more interested in the minority-liberationary connection – but then even CLR James abandoned Trotskyism fairly early, ending up as something like an autonomist.

…which is more or less the evolution of the rest of the left-opposition, too. I think ultimately you’re right: dissidents get very excited having easy access to him in the 40s, then realise they’ve got more interesting things to say themselves. I mean, even Trotsky’s critique of the Soviet system was pretty tame when other people had been calling it for what it was (state capitalist) for ages beforehand.

So yeah: historical curio in Britain, maybe a bit of a lingering interest in Africa. Also depends on what’s in store for Mao, I suppose, which is up to KH…
 
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Yes, I agree. And in hindsight most of the reason he was never heard of again is probably because… why would he be? I certainly don’t think he’s going to come up with any startlingly original analysis in his final years. Which, if anything, means Britain doesn’t end up with its weird Trot obsession in the 70s onwards…

I am a bit more interested in the minority-liberationary connection – but then even CLR James abandoned Trotskyism fairly early, ending up as something like an autonomist.

…which is more or less the evolution of the rest of the left-opposition, too. I think ultimately you’re right: dissidents get very excited having easy access to him in the 40s, then realise they’ve got more interesting things to say themselves. I mean, even Trotsky’s critique of the Soviet system was pretty tame when other people had been calling it for what it was (state capitalist) for ages beforehand.

So yeah: historical curio in Britain, maybe a bit of a lingering interest in Africa. Also depends on what’s in store for Mao, I suppose, which is up to KH…
The only thing otherwise I can see happening, and it's a big maybe, is him mellowing a little and writing some good theory books. Maybe. But not very likely.

Could also happen if Mosley is stupid enough to imprison him, and get him dealt some sympathy. Again, big maybe.

Irrelevance and a less emotional historical view of him is on the cards, I think. And that's probably for the best.
 
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The only thing otherwise I can see happening, and it's a big maybe, is him mellowing a little and writing some good theory books. Maybe. But not very likely.

Could also happen if Mosley is stupid enough to imprison him, and get him dealt some sympathy. Again, big maybe.
Trotsky as a weird, extra-militant Gramsci would be quite funny.

Mosley might get paranoid about having him in the country after going after the Left around 1950, so if he found himself a bit more persecuted for the final few years then maybe he could end up getting into, say, the fight for Kenyan liberation. But as you say, it’s a bit maybe.

Irrelevance and a less emotional historical view of him is on the cards, I think. And that's probably for the best.
Yes. The old don’t meet your heroes. The biggest tragedy might be having to rewrite this

 
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Chapter 7: To Hell, Chicago, and Back Again (II)


"We should have shot the bastards inside the hall."

Mayor Daley, 1968


Eugene McCarthy’s assassination changed little for the Republicans or for the Firsters. But it threw the Democrats deeper into turmoil as the party struggled to right the ship for the November election. For Kennedy, the assassination was deeply disorientating. The stalemate in California undermined his ability to immediately claim the mantle of opposition. His position on Vietnam did not incline anti-war forces to flock behind him. To attempt a hasty reversal on that issue threatened to undermine conservative voters and JFK supporters who admired his stance on civil rights but recoiled from the progressive amorphisms that had characterized McCarthy’s campaign. Jackson’s position was also threatened, for if the charismatic Kennedy could engineer the appropriation of the McCarthy bloc, he would face a dangerous challenger in the August convention in Chicago. The race to carve the dead man’s pie would therefore condition the very result of the nomination. In order to achieve the delicate conquest of the anti-war vote, Robert Kennedy looked to the forthcoming primary in New York. Jackson’s dominance of the party machinery would be difficult to overcome in the smaller Northeastern states, but in New York the liberal, anti-war Democrats, loyal to McCarthy, offered the promise of an effective partnership with Kennedy’s minority-bloc. The marriage of subversives that had played out in street protests and revolutionary factions was mirrored in the haute politique by an attempt to ingratiate these varied militants into bedfellows. The central figure in this abominable combination was McCarthy’s chief propagandist and New York contact, the perverse Representative Gore Vidal of the 29th district. An unpleasant creature, his reputation for wit and penetration mimicked that of a malignant growth astride an orgasmic organ, pleasing as it putrefies.

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Gore Vidal and the President during the 1964 elections (September 1964).

Representative Gore’s provocative reputation, to say the least, did not prevent him from attaining a certain degree of celebrity as New York’s warrior-poet. He dazzled in the Congress, in City Hall, and on television (as long as he was without a suitable opponent), claiming with his supposedly towering intellect a fitting fiefdom of the extreme Left. Obviously delighting in the national spotlight, Vidal nearly lost his seat in 1966 when his constituents discovered to their chagrin that he preferred gallivanting in New York society over representing the 29th district (and who could blame him, what urbane playwright would prefer Appalachia against the City’s sparkling allure). Nor did this negligence arrest his career—it attracted an international curiosity that this insubordinate public intellectual could speak eloquently, and damningly, about the war in Vietnam, the wisdom of the governing class, the military-industrial complex, the excesses of American capitalism, and it must be added, the prevailing social mores of the 1960s. His early and relentless opposition to our Asian entanglement was the impetus for his prominence, and by 1968 his clairvoyance was repaid in influence and celebrity (Joanne Woodward and Paul Newman were close friends). His consortium with the syndicalists at the People’s International War Crimes Tribunal—a collaboration that not long before would have assured him social oblivion—reflected the paradigmatic attitude of the Left’s weariness with the Cold War.

Emboldened by their collective vindication on Vietnam, radical Democrats in the Congress delighted in having such a strident colleague, and they permitted Mr. Vidal to assume a superordinate position. Most importantly for Robert Kennedy, Vidal had admitted himself into the McCarthy camp, presumed by many to be the expectant victors of the New York primary over the “native” Senator. Jackson, for all the support he could muster from reasonable Democrats, would falter in New York if Kennedy conquered the Donation of McCarthy. Vidal was not oblivious to his favorable position. He despised Jackson, and made no attempts to conceal it, frequently exaggerating the jingoism of the favored son for an unpopular war. A week after McCarthy’s death, he appeared alongside Kennedy at an enormous rally in New York City, during which, in libelous fashion, he denounced Jackson’s senescence and fatuity. Jackson was furious, and privately swore a bitter counter-campaign, but Kennedy’s subsumption of Vidal (a total reversal of his strategy in Indiana) guaranteed him the extensive grassroots apparatus of New York. On June 18 the Kennedy forces won the Democratic primary in New York and scored sixty-two delegate votes. It was a testament to the enthusiasm that radical, liberal, anti-war Democrats would have brought to McCarthy’s cause.


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Bobby with his followers in Harlem, NY (June 1968).

Kennedy’s association with Vidal was not without its drawbacks. An open proclivity for associating with the pro-Communists might not have incurred the same pallor among voters as ten years before, but it would still demand endless tergiversations on the part of the candidate, especially in the presence of conservative Democrats or Republicans. In liberal states where a comparable grassroots presence was absent, Jackson stole the advantage, painting Kennedy as a dangerous radical with a penchant for placing his private ambition above all competing obligations. The party machinery delivered him victories in Connecticut, Montana, Kentucky and Texas. But his victories were incomplete; McCarthy’s death shook Jackson as well, and he failed to make good use of the summer months to strengthen his campaign organization and to find workable themes for the fall election. And Jackson, as the presumed front-runner, also became a lightning rod for demonstrations and heckling from the virulent anti-war groups. The cry became “Cracker Jack” and signs linked Jackson with JFK: “Why Change the Ventriloquist for the Dummy?” Other protesters told the Senator, “wash the blood off your hands.” Jackson’s responses to these attacks, while spirited at times, lacked the country edge that Wallace imparted to his own ripostes. As one of Jackson’s aides recalled, the Senator “became associated in the American mind with unruliness, loud demonstrations, that kind of thing.” A British reporter noted about the Jackson campaign after a July 4 address in Philadelphia that “there is an unmistakable whiff of mediocrity about the Jackson operation these days.”

Much of the difficulty lay in the campaign organization; the dual leadership of Harris and Mondale had not worked well. Too many New Frontiersmen played a part in the campaign without clearly defined responsibilities. Of course his central problem remained his relationship with the President and his position on the war in Southeast Asia. If he presented himself as a carbon copy of the President, he would inherit all the animosities toward JFK within the Democratic party and especially the nation at large. Yet to split with him risked a public repudiation and perhaps even JFK’s reentry into the race. To assume a distinctive position from the administration on Vietnam also raised the prospect of attacks on Jackson for undermining the war effort at a crucial point which had commenced in May in Geneva. The President did not make Jackson’s political life any easier during these months. Having renounced the presidency, JFK sought to attain a peace settlement on his own terms. He did not wish to see the Democratic party and its candidate undercut the White House, and he exercised presidential influence during these months to keep Jackson in line with the administration. One act of self-denial in 1968 was all that JFK could muster. Better organized and bustling with energy, RFK b stole two upset victories in Minnesota and Washington, where the anti-war McCarthy vote flocked to his side.


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Senator Jackson and the President before the campaign (November 1967).

Jackson’s clumsy efforts to distance himself from Kennedy over Vietnam failed in the weeks before the Democratic National Convention. He indicated to reporters in mid-July that he would make an important statement on the war. A group of advisers had worked on a draft pronouncement for a month, and on July 25 they hammered out a final version. In it Jackson was to say that given positive actions by the North Vietnamese to cease the siege of Saigon, he would favor “an immediate halt in the bombing of North Vietnam.” Jackson took the draft statement to the President that same evening, and JFK threw cold water on the initiative. Kennedy told him that he would be “jeopardizing the lives of his soldiers, and endangering the chances for peace...if he [Jackson] announced this, he’d destroy me for the Presidency.” A battered Jackson returned to his aides with the lame excuse that the President was with guests and could not discuss the statement. Two weeks later, on August 9, a day after the Republican National Committee, Jackson and JFK met again at the Kennedy Compound in Cape Cod. A new draft of the Vietnam statement had been prepared for Jackson to show the President. It called for an end to the bombing of North Vietnam when the besiegers showed reciprocity. Once again JFK was scathing. “You can get a headline with this, Scoop, and it will please you and some of your friends...but if you just let me work for peace, you’ll have a better chance for election than by any speech you’re going to make.” Jackson would have to be content with silence on the paramount issue of the election.

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The American-occupied enclaves of Saigon and Nam Trung Bo were heavily pressed by the Franco-Vietnamese armies through the spring of 1968. The Administration intensified the strategic bombing of North Vietnam to alleviate the pressure on these refuges of South Vietnamese liberty.

By mid-August, the Democratic presidential nomination was within his sights. Jackson maintained a slim lead of delegates over Kennedy. Despite these favorable signs, his position was vulnerable. Following the Republican convention he trailed the GOP by twenty percentage points in the poll. His campaign, disorganized and underfunded, had failed to heal the splits in his party. Audiences at his speeches were still hostile and jeering. At the same time, JFK was floating doubts about Jackson’’s loyalty to his policies. In July the President told his advisers that Rockefeller or Nixon “may prove to be more responsible than the Democrats.” When he saw a newspaper photograph of Jackson and his brother each with a crying baby in his arms, Kennedy quipped “that’s the way I feel when I look at the two candidates, like crying.” Jackson’s other problem was the national convention in Chicago on August 26. The site and date had been set months earlier when Kennedy was still a probable candidate for reelection. Mayor Richard Daley of Chicago had lobbied hard with the President during the fall of 1967 to have his city selected. The President could carry Illinois if the party met in Chicago, Daley argued, despite the fact that the television networks wanted both parties to meet in Miami to save money. In hindsight the choice of Chicago was a political disaster. The timing produced several difficulties for the Democrats. The Republicans, meeting several weeks earlier, had plenty of time to launch their campaign smoothly and efficiently in early September. By the time the Democratic candidate was nominated, he would only have a weekend to ready himself for the traditional start of the campaign on Labor Day. Since the competitors had done virtually no planning for the general election before the convention, the Democrats went into the decisive phase of the election without a sense of purpose or strategy.

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Daley and the President discussing race relations early in his first full term (February 1965).

In the weeks before the convention Democratic disunity intensified and grew more acrimonious. Senator George S. McGovern savaged Jackson and the administration on television. Liberal Democrats argued that unless the party moved away from the administration’s position on Vietnam the Democrats would lose the general election. Yet the President offered them little reason to anticipate a change in his views. He had conferred with General Ngô Quang Trưởng, the effective Head of State of the emergency military government in Saigon, in Hawaii, during which JFK characterized the “big rumors” that the meeting was to “discuss stopping the bombing or to force the two residual South Vietnamese pockets into negotiated unifications as “pure, absolute fiction.” In other public statements he repeated his unwillingness to “order the cessation of unilateral acts of bombing of French military depots.” On August 19, he told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in Detroit, “We are not going to stop the bombing just to give them [the North Vietnamese] a chance to crush the lingering spirit of freedom in Southeast Asia and complete their bloodbath.” The President’s intransigence, however, did not dissuade other prominent Democrats from straining to distance the party’s platform from the unpopular war. After New York, the Kennedy camp assumed the most radical position, announcing on August 17 their plank, which featured, among other follies, a unilateral withdrawal from Indonesia, an “unconditional end to the bombing,” and a negotiated withdrawal of American troops from Saigon, the latter of which was contingent on concessions around civil liberties and democratic rights by the North Vietnamese (what these were purported to be and how they were supposed to be enforced was unsurprisingly left to the imagination). The President’s speech indicated that the administration would never submit to Bobby’s proposition, and with control over the platform through its chair, Congressman Hale Boggs of Louisiana, it exercised firm control over the platform. Jackson continued, nevertheless, to search for language that would placate the anti-war faction and satisfy the administration. These discussions opened on August 1 at a Washington hotel. A consensus emerged among the Kennedy men, mostly McCarthy supporters, that they had to be flexible in hammering out platform language. By the time the platform committee convened on August 19, the advocates of a peace plank had worked out wording that the candidates might find useful. The proposal included a call for an end to the bombing and a negotiated withdrawal from the war in Indochina without addressing Indonesia.

In any event, the President would not tolerate a platform critical of his policy. He had his own plans for bringing about negotiations and an end to the bombing of North Vietnam, and he wanted no interference from liberal Democrats. Through his operatives on the screen in Chicago, chiefly Postmaster General Marvin Watson, he made sure the administration position was endorsed. On August 26, the day the convention opened, the President insisted that the language of the platform specify that any bombing halt would occur only “when this action would not endanger the lives of our troops in the field; this action should take into account the response from Hanoi.” Critics of the President charged that his formulation offered the North Vietnamese no incentive to relieve their offensive on Saigon and Nam Trung Bo. Jackson was amicable to negotiations and a cessation of the bombing offensive, believing these conditions were sufficient to placate the anti-war Democrats without abandoning his own hawkish preferences. The President would not even admit that policy: “This plank undercuts our whole policy, and the Democratic Party should have no part in doing that to me...you’ve been a part of this policy.” Jackson briefly contemplated taking a stand on the platform issue, but he was beaten into a quick retreat when Hale Boggs threatened to resign if confronted with a plank that the President deemed unacceptable. Feeling defensive about his own legacy, the President exposed his feeble sense of political prudence.


OcE1jOc.jpg

Hale Boggs, the House Majority Whip from Louisiana, was a key Southern ally of the President and an opponent of civil rights legislation.

The Democratic Convention was the great disaster of the party. It produced a series of embarrassments that weakened it for a generation. As a result of the way in which Jackson’s delegates had been chosen in caucuses and state conventions, liberals accused party officials of frustrating the will of the national voters. Many came to Chicago determined to change the rules of the game. A group of McCarthy supporters established a commission to look at the delegate-selection mechanism, announcing that in many areas there were obvious abuses. Particular attention focused on the “unit rule” that enabled Southern majorities to control an entire delegation and shut out the minority altogether. Negroes and liberals viewed the rule as the last resort of such Southern conservatives as Texas Governor Mj. Gen. Ted Walker. Unable to placate the Left on Vietnam, the Jackson camp moved to propitiation, informing Walker that the rule would be changed sometime in the future after the 1968 convention. Then Walker learned that Jackson, feeling pressure from Northern liberals, had endorsed the abolition of the rule at the convention. Walker floated a draft-JFK movement before the convention, terrified of a divisive floor fight, enacted a “freedom of conscience” provision which allowed delegates covered by the unit rule to vote as they thought best.

It was unfortunate for the Democrats that their convention was not held somewhere uninhabited—their notoriety was such that Jupiter would have only just sufficed. In a year of social indignation, the violence that tarred the Democratic convention symbolized the tensions that endangered the very fabric of the social order. As soon as the Democrats announced in late 1967 that their convention would be held in Chicago, antiwar groups debated whether to stage protest demonstrations. Their collective poverty ensured that only one of the conventions could be abused, and in this rare instance, the Democrats were a more compelling choice of victim. Kennedy was likely to be renominated, and in their eyes he was the principal antagonist. “Chicago is JFK’s stage and we are going to steal it,” boasted one rather flamboyant protest leader. The movement had occupied national attention in March 1968, shortly after Tet, when one hundred thousand dissidents came through Washington. Frustrated that their tactics had not forced a revolution on war policy, the leaders of the peace movement narrowed their focus on “blocking the war-machine,” by which they meant, almost innovatively, to disrupt the nominating processes of the two parties. The groups that planned to assemble in Chicago were fractured and fractious. One such faction was the Youth International Party (the Yippies), which commanded a cohort of fringe activists under the direction of Jerry Rubin and Abbie Hoffman, both of them exemplars of the 1960s agitator, having participated in the civil rights movement as well. “Our goal,” they explained, was the “Politics of Ecstasy.” Their countercultural dogma exposed the essential degradation of the modern revolutionary as they brandished platitudes like “revolution for the hell of it!” and “theatre in the streets!” During the first half of 1968, Rubin and Hoffman delighted the national press with a diet of stunts and threats ranging from the deranged (“mind-altering drugs could be placed in the Chicago water supply”) to the daring (“the convention can be infiltrated and disrupted”). At no time did they command a mass following, but they did succeed in showering themselves in press coverage, and furthermore, in alerting the authorities to the real threat of erratic behavior. Meanwhile the more conventional anti-war elements, if such an adjective could reasonably apply to these groups, approached the Chicago convention at a high point in their fortunes.


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"The New America"—the Yippies at the Convention (August 1968).

In the summer, a new cadre of revolutionary leaders appeared to herald the protest movement. Tom Hayden, a University of Michigan graduate who had helped organize Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), offered a critique of American society and a vision for “participatory democracy.” During the civil rights skirmishes of the early 1960s and the antiwar protests that followed, Hayden emerged as an articulate and celebrated radical personality. In 1964 he went to Paris and the next year to North Vietnam, returning convinced that the only goal for politics in 1968 was “to make it impossible for the next president to be elected without agreeing to end the war.” David Dellinger, from the older school of American pacifism (he opposed American participation in the Pacific War) which held that “all war is evil and useless,” had spent three years in prison as an objector. He marched for civil rights and then seamlessly pivoted into the antiwar movement. In 1967, aged fifty, he earned the chairmanship of the Mobilization to End the War (Mobe), and therefore scored a spot at the vanguard of the radical Left. Finally, Rennie David, born in 1940, went into radical politics as a member of SDS at Oberlin College. She was the organizer of the trio who could turn Hayden’s visions into concrete achievements. At press conferences on June 29 the Mobe leaders declared that demonstrations were planned for Chicago, and in the event of violence noted that they would “physically protect our people and are already working on chemical deterrents.”

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Protesters from Students for a Democratic Society march against the Vietnam War in Los Angeles (April 1968).

Faced with these threats to public order, Chicago authorities and the Kennedy administration worked to protect the city from the anticipated throngs of thugs and demonstrations. Having lobbied hard to persuade the Democrats to meet in the city, Daley intended to take all precautions necessary to ensure that disruptions did not mar the occasion. The Mayor, a titan in Democratic politics, had been a key ally of the President, attaining mastery over the city’s legendary machine. During the 1967 riots, Daley had issued a “shoot-to-kill” order for arsonists, and denounced the agitators as “hoodlums and communists.” With his characteristic determination he told reporters that “no thousands will come to our city and take over our streets, our city, and our Convention.” City and federal authorities, aided by infiltrative tactics of the FBI, conducted extensive surveillance on the radicals and acts of covert disruption. When the demonstrators requested city permits to allow their protests, Daley stalled and then refused. Despite the prospect of a confrontation, tens of thousands still took their pilgrimage to Chicago, no doubt invigorated by the outcome of the Tet Offensive. Against them were twelve thousand police, six thousand natural guardsmen, and one thousand Secret Service agents. The FBI was also in attendance, ensuring that convention security was exceptional. Delegates were compelled to present identification cards to gain entrance, and a great wall of fences and barbed wire enveloped the conventional hall. Outside the city, federal troops were prepared to suppress an outbreak of violent disobedience.

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"Hello Democrats - Welcome to Chicago!"

Nevertheless, violence began almost immediately once the convention opened. On August 26, illegal demonstrations out of Lincoln Park were dispersed by tear gas after the group flouted an 11 PM curfew. The following night the scene was recycled. Jerry Rubin quipped at evening rally that “if they try to keep us out of the park, then we’ll go to the streets...they bring out the pigs to protect the pigs they nominate.” After leaving Lincoln Park the protesters moved to Grant Park, where they remained through the evening. During the afternoon of Wednesday, August 28, mass violence again occurred at an approved rally in Grant Park. Flag desecrating protesters clashed with club-carrying police, precipitating a volley of bricks, concrete and food. The melody of “Death to the pigs” and “fascist bastards” rang out for hours. British reporters wrote that the police “went, quite literally, berserk” in a typical expression of syndicalist sensationalism. The violence was not long contained. Inside the convention the Democrats were tearing themselves to pieces. The crucial debate on the peace plank about Vietnam occurred on Wednesday afternoon. The anti-war forces succeeded in delaying the debate to the later afternoon so they could marshal their strength. The administration, controlling the debate, argued that a bombing halt would imperil the lives of American soldiers in the field. A Jackson spokesman announced that their candidate supported this position while peace advocates sang “We Shall Overcome” and others screamed “Stop the war, stop the war!” The vote for the plank split the convention right down the middle with the administration’s policy scraping by with only 75 votes. It was not a propitious start for the establishment.

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Shortly after, the nominating process began. As it went forward, the most serious outbreak of rioting unfolded at around eight o’clock, lasting for nearly ninety minutes. Some ten thousand Mobilization demonstrators and other groups congregated around the Conrad Hilton Hotel. As the police tried to prevent a march, many officers charged the crowd. British correspondents again record: “The kids screamed and were beaten to the ground by cops who had completely lost their cool...some of them chanted ‘kill, kill.” Spectators, protesters, and policemen were driven through plate glass windows at the hotel. The smell of tear gas and blood suffocated the streets. All of this unfolded on national television, complete with the preferred message of slandering law enforcement as foreign journalists argued that the Chicago police had acted with “barbarous ferocity and brutality.” Worse for the Democrats, as the violence was happening, and news trickled into the convention hall, the ritual of nominating a presidential candidate had begun. Unlike previous conventions, the enmity between the candidates and their supporters was so acerbic that the traditional mechanism of backroom bargaining had utterly collapsed. Jackson’s name had been placed in nomination and a seconding speech was about to commence when the networks turned to airing their coverage of the rioting. For thirty minutes the convention was forgotten and television viewers witnessed what was happening outside. Here was abundant evidence that lawlessness inevitably accompanied Democratic politicians and their policies.

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The climax of the evening came when Senator Abraham Ribicoff of Connecticut, nominating Bobby Kennedy, denounced “NKVD tactics on the streets of Chicago.” The nearby Mayor Daley, affected by this hypodermic insult, offered a feculent and crude anti-Semitic remark to the Senator. Ribicoff replied, “How hard it is to accept the truth.” This verbal altercation, unfolding as physical ones dotted the venue, preceded the contentious balloting. Here the violence crescendoed as it became increasingly evident to both sides that the final result would yield an only marginal victory for the triumphant candidate. Minor skirmishes broke out within the conventional hall as moderate Democrats looked on in bewilderment as Bobby Kennedy broke out ahead of Jackson, sweeping up the states that had gone for McCarthy. Walter Cronkite, who had criticized Daley’s precautions earlier in the afternoon, declared this time to American viewers that “Mayor Daley is a dead-man walking. His convention has been stolen from him.” A visibly infuriated Daley stormed off from the conventional hall as reality dawned on the Jackson campaign that they had underestimated the vehemence of delegate opinion on Vietnam. The floor grew raucous, almost orgiastic, as the Left trumpeted its apparent victory.

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Mayor Daley and his associates hurl anti-Semitic remarks at Senator Ribicoff.

Despite his shock success in the nominating vote, Bobby Kennedy immediately recognized that the events in Chicago had been a “catastrophe” for his presidential aspirations. He had two opportunities to repair some of the damage to his candidacy before the convention adjourned. The first would be his choice of a vice president, which would indicate his priorities as a leader and his electoral strategy. And his acceptance speech gave him an opportunity to reach out to his defeated rivals and to put symbolic distance between himself and his boisterous constituency. By now Kennedy recognized that he was a clear underdog. What was demanded was a show of strength in the areas in which the Democrats were weak in 1968⁠—in the border states and the South, in California, or west of the Mississippi. To his credit, his political instincts were shrewd; he could not win the general election by placating Gore Vidal and the radical Democrats, even if his success at the convention was to a certain extent the result of an unconscious projection of anti-war views onto his person. When his aides floated the anti-war Senator George McGovern of South Dakota as possible Vice-President, Bobby castigated them for their naïveté. Instead, he contemplated nominating Governor Terry Sanford of North Carolina and Senator Fred Harris of Oklahoma, Southern Democrats with moderate views on Vietnam and progressive records on civil rights and the New Frontier. By deferring to the Southerners, Kennedy made it clear that he was not conceding any section of the country to his opponents.

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The victorious Left celebrates with the Equestrian Indians.

On the second front, that of his acceptance speech, Kennedy’s aides pressed him for a dramatic gesture that would emphasize his disagreement with his brother. They presumed, not without some cause, that the superior popularity of the antiwar position demanded a fixed declaration of sympathy from a candidate that had sounded pro-war in Indiana and anti-war in New York. Kennedy was inclined to agree, concluding that a position of “considered opposition to the war in Vietnam...that is, moving at once to de-escalate without abominating the justificatory arguments of the war is the best tactic.” In his speech, he praised his estranged brother for having “accomplished more of the unfinished business of America than any of his modern predecessors,” before insisting that it was his intention “to bring a prompt end to the war in Vietnam...and a speedier conclusion to the bombing campaign and the opacity of present negotiations.” On the topic of the recent insanity in Chicago, he denounced both “mob violence and police brutality...neither which have any place in America.” Toward the end of the speech he called on Jackson for help “in the difficult campaign that lies ahead.” Jackson did not reciprocate this fraternal spirit, enraged as he was by the fissiparous Kennedy campaign. In a speech to his followers at the Hilton Hotel, Jackson referred disparagingly to his opponent by entitling the Hilton attendees as “the government of the people in exile.” His manner was infuriating to Bobby, especially his refusal to appear on the podium when Kennedy accepted the nomination. Deferential towards the President, Jackson felt less sympathy towards the once disaffected and now ascendent wing of the Democratic party.

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The Pretender claims the Throne.

The Democrats left Chicago with their party in shambles. The rioting had indelibly associated them in the minds of many Americans with lawlessness and disorder. At first, protesters chanting “the whole world is watching” presumed that the American public would sympathize with their treatment by Mayor Daley’s cops and JFK’s loyalists. They soon found out how mistaken they were. Polls conducted shortly after the convention indicated that seventy-one percent of those surveyed supported the measures Mayor Daley had taken to maintain security. Fifty-six percent agreed with the way he handled the disorders themselves. Defenders of the Chicago police, your author included, emphasized the demonstrators’ threats and provocations. “Those police took a lot of brutality from that mob, and they did their duty,” noted Senator Russell Long. The Indianapolis News concluded that “the demonstrators were in many cases openly violating the law, and in general seeking the trouble they got.” Mayor Daley put out his own broadcast giving his interpretation of what happened. In the public relations battle, the mayor of Chicago and his police force were the clear winners in August 1968. As for the general election, with the traditional Labor Day campaign nearing, the Democrats were in an unenviable position. A Gallup survey after the convention indicated that 46 percent preferred the GOP, 29 percent for the Democrats, and 22 percent for the Firsters, with the rest undecided. The grand political system of Roosevelt, Byrnes, Kefauver, and Kennedy was under mortal threat.
 
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Wraith11B

Call Kenny Loggins, you're in the DANGER ZONE...
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Ripped to shreds, the Nation is...
 

DensleyBlair

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Ripped to shreds, the Nation is...
It is… not looking pretty across the Atlantic.

Perhaps some mood music will lift the spirits?

 
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