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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Clean For Gene Redux


Way way back in the dark ages of political protests Senator Gene McCarthy challenged the sitting Democratic President of The United States over our increasing involvement in Viet Nam. Johnson was running for a second full term after the Kennedy assassination and the economy was good. Hundreds of thousands of young men between eighteen and twenty-six were in danger of being drafted and sent to Southeast Asia. We were motivated to put it mildly.

The New Hampshire primary loomed large and many of those young men and women went to that state during Christmas to pound the pavement for McCarthy. The Senator had no money and little support from the political class, but he had troops that The President couldn't match. The one problem that we had was that the anti-war Democrats were young, it was the sixties and the kids had adopted the culture and appearance of the era. People just wouldn't listen to "dirty fucking hippies". It wasn't fair, but that was the way it was. The answer was the "Clean for Gene" movement. Hair was cut, beards shaved, suits retrieved from parents' houses and Windsor knots were learned. Against all odds Gene came close to winning. Close enough to force what was arguably the most ferocious seeker of political power to retire from the campaign. Bobby Kennedy swept in and sucked up the McCarthy voting anti-war bloc. Another Kennedy assassination, a police riot in Chicago and we got Hubert Humphrey to lose against Tricky Dick Nixon. The importance of presenting an acceptable image to the public in a political battle cannot be over-emphasized. Sure beating drums in Rastafarian garb and smoking pot is fun, but extremely unwise. A more recent example was "The Battle of Seattle". The media loved to cover the anarchists throwing newspaper vending boxes through the windows of local merchants and ignored the vast majority of protestors fighting the WTO. Even more recently the drama queen jackasses of Code Pink made the job of anti-war activists all the harder.

My advice would be to shave, cut dreadlocks, hide the drums and get a pair of jeans and sports shirt at the Goodwill. In the words of Jon Stewart "You are not helping!".

From Jen Sorensen's "Slowpoke" via Daily Kos:



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