Former Sen. Eugene McCarthy has died
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Former Sen. Eugene McCarthy, whose
1968 anti-Vietnam War presidential candidacy helped drive
President Lyndon Johnson from office, died on Saturday, his son
The 89-year-old Democrat from Minnesota had suffered from
Parkinson’s disease, fell ill on Friday night and died from
complications Saturday morning, according to his son, Michael
“He’s obviously going to be remembered for his opposition
to the war in Vietnam and his campaign against Johnson, but I
think he’d maybe prefer to be remembered for his work on the
Civil Rights Act … Medicare and Medicaid and environmental
law,” his son said.
“Another thing about him was that he was able to
participate in some of the most contentious debates of his time
… and do it on the basis of ideas and policies and not on
personalities. I think that was one of the reasons he had such
appeal to the young.”
McCarthy made his mark in the tumultuous 1968 campaign as a
Pied Piper of the anti-Vietnam War movement that drove
Democratic President Lyndon Johnson from office.
His candidacy fell under the shadow of New York Sen. Robert
Kennedy, brother of the slain president, who was assassinated
upon winning the party’s nomination.
Vice President Hubert Humphrey went on to take the
nomination that year and ultimately lost the presidential race
to Republican Richard Nixon.
Although McCarthy often expressed annoyance later that this
episode overshadowed other achievements — Senate service,
books of poetry, political commentary — the 1968 campaign and
the anti-war upheaval around it put him in the history books.
He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1949
and the first of two Senate terms in 1958. He left the Senate
in 1970 and eventually moved to rural Virginia to write poetry
and books on politics.
In a Capitol building filled with back-slapping
politicians, he was known for his acid tongue and aloof style.
He once called the clubby Senate “the last primitive society
left on Earth.”
McCarthy is survived by his son, two daughters, a brother,
a sister and six grandchildren, Michael McCarthy said.
A private burial is planned for Wednesday in Woodville,
Virginia, where McCarthy lived for about 20 years.
(World desk, Americas 202-898-8457))