PELTO: "George McGovern: An American Hero"

Cross post from Jon Pelto's Wait What?

In 1972, I had the honor of meeting George McGovern when he flew into Bradley Airport to speak at a nearby hotel ballroom.

That year, at the age of eleven, I spent hundreds of hours making persuasion, ID and GOTV phone calls at the Mansfield Democratic Headquarters.  I still remember some of the mean comments that were made when someone heard my childlike voice.  That November, I stayed up late on election night, watching CBS News and thinking that somehow California and the West Coast would turn the tide and give McGovern he Electoral College votes he needed to win.  I cried when I went to bed that night and wore a block armband the next day to school.

Another one of the greatest moments in my political life occurred when last august, Patrick Scully, an apologist for Governor Malloy, and a self-described "high-profile communications, public relations, media and political consulting professional" decided to attack me, my blog and my criticisms of Malloy and his administration.

When I blasted Malloy for his arrogant and insensitive comments about Connecticut's public employees last August, Scully penned a Harford Courant commentary piece in which he wrote that Jonathan Pelto is "hopelessly disconnected from the average Connecticut citizen and continue to wallow in the failed, far-left, now-fringe policies of 1970s."

Scully added, "George McGovern is no longer relevant, nor are his policies. Today's Democrats (myself included) are in the camp of John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton, Barack Obama and, yes, Dan Malloy.

Scully's "insults" may have been among the greatest complements that I've ever received.

Today, and in the coming days, people interested in George McGovern, and his legacy, will have plenty to read.

There's more below the fold...
Here are a just a few highlights of his many contributions to our nation.

At the age of 20, George McGovern enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps, where he served as an extremely active B-24 bomber pilot, a service that earned him the Distinguished Flying Cross.

After the war, McGovern returned to the country and earned a Masters and Doctorate in American history and government from Northwestern Connecticut.  He then returned to South Dakota to become a university teacher.

A few years later he became political director for the South Dakota Democratic Party and then won a seat in the United State House of Representatives in 1956.  He was re-elected to the House in 1958 but lost his bid for the United States Senate in 1960.

In 1961, President Kennedy appointed McGovern a special assistant to the president, and director of the Food for Peace Program.  That program continues to be the world's largest emergency hunger relief program in the world.

McGovern returned to South Dakota a year later, winning the U. S. Senate seat, a position he was re-elected to in 1968 and 1974.

In 1972, George McGovern's anti-Vietnam war message helped him become the Democratic Party's Presidential nominee.  He went on to a historic lose to Richard Nixon, whose campaign was behind the 1972 Watergate crimes, and who was forced to resign in disgrace a few years later..

The key elements of McGovern's 1972 campaign including the following;

His Democratic Nomination speech in which he said, "Let us resolve that never again will we send the precious young blood of this country to die trying to prop up a corrupt military dictatorship abroad,"

A domestic agenda designed to, "ensure that every American able to work has a job to do."

A call to end the artificial government economic controls of the 1970s, "in which labor is depressed but prices and corporate profits run sky high."

A "national health insurance plan"

And "a fair and just tax system," that included a proposal for higher taxes on the wealthy.

While McGovern returned to the U.S. Senate after the 1972 Presidential campaign, he lost his Senate Seat in the Landslide of 1980.

President Bill Clinton appointed McGovern to serve as the United States ambassador to the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization in 2000 and was named the first United Nations global ambassador on hunger in 2001.

Although McGovern initially endorsed Hillary Clinton in the last presidential campaign, he later switched his endorsement to Barack Obama.

However, during Obama first year in office, McGovern wrote a scathing attack on the Obama administration's decision to continue to war in Afghanistan.

McGovern wrote, "As a U.S. senator during the 1960s, I agonized over the badly mistaken war in Vietnam...After doing all I could to save our troops and the Vietnamese people from a senseless conflict, I finally took my case to the public in my presidential campaign in 1972. Speaking across the nation, I told audiences that the only upside of the tragedy in Vietnam was that its enormous cost in lives and dollars would keep any future administration from going down that road again. "I was wrong."

This morning, George McGovern died at the age of 90.

He was a great American and a proud liberal.

To the fools, he was a dangerous radical or an example of the "failed fringe politics of the 1970s."

To those of us who knew of his accomplishment sand his dedication and commitment  to our nation and humanity, he was and will always be a hero.

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