The Dump LBJ Movement, Obama and 2012
by changeagain2012, Thu Nov 04, 2010 at 01:40:37 PM EDT
"The enemy increaseth every day" and "We, at the height, are ready to decline"
(Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, lines 216–217)
There is a tide in the affairs of men.
Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat,
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.
(Brutus - Julius Caesar Act 4, scene 3, lines 218–220) William Shakespeare
"I'll jump off that bridge when I come to it." - Adlai Stevenson.
In the summer of 1967, a 38 year old political activist and law school instructor named Al Lowenstein conceived the highly unlikely idea of a movement to dump Lyndon Johnson. It was as columnist Jack Newfield wrote " rather like Castro and a handful of guerrillas in the Seirra Maestra planning to overthrow Batista."
But Lowenstein fought on tenaciously because he detected deep satisfaction with LBJ when everybody else just thought his opposition comprised only of "long haired college students on LSD."
"There were little enclaves. But people were doubtful and doubted that anyone else felt the way that they did. Only farmers were against Johnson, or only Jews, or only intellectuals, or only ivy league halfbacks. We only had to get them together to see this was not true."
Working out of his New York apartment, Lowenstein pulled together a ragtag group of allies and started to try to find a candidate.
Eventually he had a group he described as "75 people, half of them under the age of twelve".
New York magazine said it was a "quixotic campaign fought to the tune of laughter and snickering."
The first person Lowenstein asked to challenge Lyndon Johnson in the 1968 Democratic primaries, Robert Kennedy, said no, then Senator George McGovern when asked declined fearing that if he ran against Johnson and lost he would never win again in a Senate reelection in SD.
McGovern suggested they ask Senators Metcalf from Montana and McCarthy of Minnesotta.
Senator Metcalf rejected the idea as "ridiculous".
But McCarthy said that " the only way to get Johnson to change would be for someone to run against him."
The Dump Johnson movement was a movement within the United States Democratic Party to oppose the candidacy of President of the United States Lyndon B. Johnson to become the party's nominee in the 1968 presidential election. Their opposition to Johnson stemmed mainly from their opposition to the Vietnam War, while the movement can be seen as part of an internal battle within the Democratic Party between antiwar liberals, unreconstructed Cold Warriors and moderates.
Within the left wing of the Democratic party there had been rumbles all during 1967 of challenging Lyndon B. Johnson's candidacy. The leading proponents of the Dump Johnson Movement were two opponents of the war, Allard K. Lowenstein and Curtis Gans. Their first choice to be a candidate was Robert F. Kennedy, but the New York Senator declined after a series of meetings in September and October 1967. When he declined, they next turned to California Congressman Don Edwards, Idaho Senator Frank Church, Canadian-born economist John Kenneth Galbraith, General James M. Gavin, and South Dakota Senator George S. McGovern, all of whom similarly declined. Finally in mid-October 1967 Lowenstien approached Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy and found to his surprise that the Senator was willing. 'Somebody has to raise the flag,'  McCarthy remarked. Six days later, in a meeting with Lowenstein and another liberal leader McCarthy made his decision definite. "You guys have been talking about three or four names. I think you can cut the list down to one now."
In 1964 Johnson won the presidency by a majority of 61 percent.
No post-1964 Democratic candidate has managed to better LBJ's 1964 electoral result.
In 1966 Johnson's popularity had fallen, and the opposition was able to gain a net of 47 seats.
By 1967, the Democratic governor of Missouri warned that Johnson would lose the state by 100,000 votes, despite a half-million margin in 1964. "Frustration over the war; too much federal spending and... taxation; no great public support for your programs; and ... public disenchantment" had eroded the President's standing, the governor reported.
On March 12, 1968, McCarthy in the New Hampshire primary won 42% of the primary vote to Johnson's 49%.
On March 31, 1968, following the New Hampshire primary and Robert Kennedy's entry into the election, the President startled the nation by announcing:
"With America's sons in the fields far away, with America's future under challenge right here at home, with our hopes and the world's hopes for peace in the balance every day, I do not believe that I should devote an hour or a day of my time to any personal partisan causes or to any duties other than the awesome duties of this office--the Presidency of your country.
Accordingly, I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your President."
I suggest you watch this entire clip.
I think after the next year of partisan fights and investigations, continued economic horrors and no answers in these partisan wars to our long term endless debt problems, you can see that if instead of running again in 2012 in a election that polls already say he will lose, if Obama instead gave this exact speech, almost word for word, the nation, the Party and history would applaud him for it.
Yes, that may sound startling now, and a joke to insiders both in 1966 and today, but I don't think LBJ's graceful Presidential exit shocked Al Lowenstein in 1968 - nor would it shock me if in early 2012, Barack Obama gave pretty much this very same speech.
While looking around the internet I found this facebook page,
"The Dump Obama Movement".
Less than 100 people have joined it but thats significantly more than Al Lowenstein started off with isn't it?.
OK, all those that believe Obama will face no inner party challenge and is a shoe in for election can start their snickering and laughing now...
But maybe before you do, you should read this report from US News and World Report from a week BEFORE the worst electoral blood bath for Democrats in over 70 years. A historic rejection of the Obama White House that lost Democrats close to 70 House seats, 19 state legislatures and gave us 24 victorious GOP Governors who's wins included defeating 10 sitting Democratic Governors...the flight of independents, women and suburban voters to the GOP...
After that, there's the first post mid term polling from CNN on the 2012 Presidential race and Obama is doing very,very poorly.
Then a piece I read after writing this diary that also suggests a correlation between 1968 and 2012 and predicts a Democratic challenge to Obama.
Poll: Most Want Obama Fired In 2012
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, rapped by the White House for pledging to makeBarack Obama a one-term president, seems to have the support of a majority of Americans. A new poll provided to Whispers says that 56 percent of likely voters want the president fired.
According to pollster Doug Schoen, whose new poll shows vast support for the Tea Party movement among voters, the president is still liked by about half the nation. In fact, more like him personally than like his policies. Some 48 percent think he's a nice guy, while just 42 percent approve of his job performance.
But that personal favorability doesn't translate into re-election support when voters are asked if Obama deserves a second term. Says Schoen: "Despite voters feelings towardObama personally, 56 percent say he does not deserve to be re-elected, while 38 percent say he does deserve to be re-elected president." Worse, Schoen adds, "43 percent say that Barack Obama has been a better president than George W. Bush, while 48 percent say Bush was a better president than Obama has been."
Poll: GOP candidates top Obama in hypothetical 2012 race
Washington (CNN) -- A CNN/Opinion Research Corp. survey released Thursday also indicates that at the unofficial start of the race for the Republican presidential nomination, the field of possible contenders appears wide open with no front-runner
"Looking ahead to 2012, it may be too early to count Barack Obama out, particularly if Sarah Palin is his opponent, Obama leads Palin 52-44 percent among all registered voters, but In a hypothetical 2012 matchup, Huckabee leads Obama 52 - 44 percent, while Romney has a 50-45 point advantage, which is within the poll's sampling error. Obama holds a 49-47 percent margin over Gingrich.
By STEVEN STARK | Boston Phoenix - November 3, 2010
Even before the rout at the polls, Democrats were nervous about their President. The left felt sold out, and moderates were frightened. Now it's payback time.
Now that the midterm wipeout has concluded, analysts are already sizing up the GOP challengers to a weakened Barack Obama. Not only that: some Democratic party elders are considering the once-unthinkable scenario of a debilitating challenge to Barack Obama from inside his party — most likely from a disgruntled critic on the left. But in truth, Obama has little to fear there. It's an urban myth that any inter-party challenge to a president weakens him. George Wallace challenged Lyndon Johnson in 1964 and Pete McCloskey ran against Richard Nixon in 1972 — both to little effect. Even Pat Buchanan's insurgency against George Bush in 1992 was far more symptom than cause of the incumbent's loss in November.
No, what Obama should fear is a challenge from a party heavyweight — as happened in 1968 with Johnson (Robert Kennedy), 1976 with Gerald Ford (Ronald Reagan), and 1980 with Jimmy Carter (Ted Kennedy). In each of those cases, the incumbent did eventually lose, which is why the real threat to Obama is Hillary Clinton, and maybe even a reborn Jerry Brown.
Of those three examples above, 1968 is the most relevant this time. It seemed impossible in early 1967 that Kennedy would challenge Johnson, just as it seems so unlikely now that the current sitting secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will defy Obama. But the bad economy is Obama's Vietnam War. (Yes, Larry Summers is Robert McNamara in this analogy, but that's for another column.) The longer it drags on, the more the party establishment will grow uneasy that Obama could pull a Samson and take everything down with him.
Already, a fair portion of the party mainstream is alienated from the administration. The moderates have seen their congressional wing decimated. Many were upset when Obama went to Rhode Island on October 25 and refused to endorse the Democratic candidate for governor because independent Lincoln Chafee had backed Obama in 2008. And few need reminding that Obama barely won the nomination in 2008 over Clinton. More than a few Democrats are experiencing a bad case of buyer's remorse.
Thats just the Beginning -