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Monday, June 29, 2015

Presidential Losers #43: George McGovern

Energized by pressing issues of the Vietnam War, Civil Rights, and the Economy, voters stayed home in droves.  The '72 election had the lowest voter turnout in 20 years.  Only 55% of the voters turned up, but those 55% went solidly for Richard Nixon, thanks largely the efforts of a committed group of idealists called the Committee to Re-Elect the President or CREEP1 

The folks at CREEP had a number of cool ideas.  Possibly the coolest was after the attempted assassination of George Wallace; Nixon suggested scattering Democratic campaign literature at the crime scene to make it look like the liberals were behind the attempted murder of America's most beloved segregationist.  This plan never panned out, but enough ideas came to fruition that the Democrats were pretty much sabotaged coming and going.  

To wit, breaking into a psychiatrist's office uncovered the juicy tidbit that the vice-presidential candidate, Thomas Eagleton, had received electroshock therapy for depression.  Americans were rightly outraged at Tom's lack of gumption, if you're depressed, by golly, then just cheer up!2  

Eagleton was dumped and replaced with Sargent Shriver, whom many Americans thought was an album by the Beatles and others a famous canine movie hero similar to Rin-Tin-Tin.  

The highpoint of CREEP's antics was a bungled break-in of Democratic Headquarters in the Watergate Hotel.  (The burglars found nothing of use, by the way.)  

All of this came to light during the Watergate Hearings, during which, a crucial piece of evidence were tape-recordings that Nixon himself had authorized.  This really calls into question whether it was Nixon or Eagleton who was more in need of psychiatric counseling.  Being a criminal may not necessitate a genius IQ, but at least it calls for a minimum of non-dumb-ass-ness.  By God, if you're going to subvert the Constitution, then for heaven's sake, don't freaking tape-record your conversations.  Not since presidential loser James Blaine was brought low by an incriminating letter ending with the instructions "burn this letter," has any political felon shown such wild disregard for common sense.

In the meantime, it was a landslide with McGovern under it.  McGovern didn't even win his own state of South Dakota.

Result

Richard Nixon: 520
George McGovern: 17

1. Nixon's campaign staff had many abilities, but coming up with good acronyms wasn't one of them. 
2. It was put about that Eagleton told an interviewer that McGovern was in favor of "amnesty, abortion, and acid."  This is untrue.  Eagleton distinctly said "pot" not "acid."

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