Scheer/Lamont Analogy Provokes New Insights

by Randy Shaw on August 30, 2006

My August 24 piece, “Robert Scheer was the Ned Lamont of the 1960’s” evoked some great responses, some of which are printed below. The most interesting message came from reader Kathleen Grasso Andersen, who is clearly steeped in Connecticut politics. Anderson reports that Ned Lamont’s campaign “is far more analogous to that of anti war candidate Joseph Duffey, who challenged Senator Tom Dodd (father of current Senator Christopher Dodd) to a primary in 1970, won the primary but lost the election because incumbent Tom Dodd ran as an independent, like Joe Lieberman is doing.” The facts surrounding Duffey’s candidacy are remarkably analogous, and deserve our attention as Lamont and Lieberman square off in November.

As stated by Ms Anderson:

Joe Duffey’s candidacy began in 1967 when he became chairman of
Connecticut Dems for Gene McCarthy. We forced primaries in several CT, towns and won 25% of the delegates to the State convention in Hartford in June of 1968, under
the chairmanship of John Bailey.

The McCarthy delegates asked for proportional representation on the
slate of delegates to the national convention in Chicago. We did not have enough
delegates to elect a slate pledged to Gene McCarthy and John Bailey had no
reason to give us 11 of the 44 seats on the CT. delegation.

Because we only needed 20% of the delegates to force a primary against
Senator Abe Ribicoff, we asked Joe Duffey if we could nominate him. He agreed
and we informed Ribicoff and Bailey. They called a meeting in the middle of the
night and gave us 9 seats to Chicago and agreed to support Duffey in 1970
against Tom Dodd.

(Ed note: If you are not familiar with the greatness of Abe Ribicoff, rent the documentary “George McGovern: A Bright and Shining Summer,” which includes Ribicoff’s courageous speech at the 1968 Democratic Convention attacking Mayor Daley’s “Gestapo tactics.” Daley is caught on camera responding to Ribicoff with an anti-Semitic slur)

We accepted the deal and Joe Duffey ran in 1970. Lowell Weicker then won
the general election because Tom Dodd split the Democratic vote by running an as
independent. I Hope Lamont’s outcome is better, for the sake of peace on earth.

Other letters show that political people have long memories. Linda and Ken Mitchell wrote:

I remember Robert Scheer then as now. One problem that I had with him was his bias against right wing dictatorships and in favor of left wing ones. Most notable were China, Cuba, North Vietnam and North Korea. While I opposed the Vietnam War, I didn’t like North Vietnam’s government. While I opposed an embargo against Cuba, I didn’t like Cuba’s government. Scheer, and left wing firebrand turned right wing firebrand David Horowitz wrote columns in Ramparts Magazine about North Korea being heaven on earth. Now both deny doing this. I acknowledge the positive side of Scheer’s 1966 campaign and the good that he did, but there will always be his denial of North Korea.

(Ed note: In response to reading above letter, David Horowitz wrote:

“It’s absolutely false to say that I ever described North Korea as “heaven on earth.” When I was a leftist I was an anti-Stalinist and wrote many articles expressing those views. Scheer on the other hand was a follower of Kim Il Sung. Please correct your text.”

Here’s a response from Canada:

Your column should be required reading for all history and social studies courses in all public,secondary schools,colleges across USA , that is , if the teachers had the guts to do so . If American and Canadian citizens chose to remain politically ignorant then they deserve to have all the Constitutional safeguards stripped away and be ruled by dictators such as Bush and Harper. The choice is their’s not DLC’s.

Ron White
War Registers’ Support Campaign
Vancouver,BC,Canada

I found this letter from Mary Robinson particularly thoughtful:

Thanks for memory lane. This was my first political awakening – that started
with a passionate speech Scheer gave in Berkeley. Many of us signed up for
the campaign. I was heartsick when he lost, as young people are with
disappointment. My young friend Sarah cried her eyes out when we lost the
White House again. I remembered what losing felt like.

My life is book-ended by wars, young and old, and I_m so very sorry we
couldn_t stop this horror yet again, sorry this is the world we give the
young. I hope they save us.

I didn’t realize when writing the column that Scheer apparently is not very popular with Greens, but learned this from many respondents. Here is the strongest:

Dear Sir,
Which Robert Scheer are you talking about? Certainly not the pretentious apologist for the corporate duopoly, the Green-hating, Nader-slandering imitation liberal who claims to have been some kind of progressive “in the ’60s.” Are you talking about the self-important wise-ass pundit who wants to deprive millions of us independents and Greens of our right to participate in the political process and the civic discourse? The same guy who, instead of campaigning for Instant Runoff Voting and working to solve the problem created by the duopolists, is content to petulantly cry, “spoiler, spoiler,” and insult us in print by writing that we are “playing a dangerous game” by exercising our right to vote for the candidate and party that best represents our views? Scheer is an enemy of real democracy who deserved to be fired from the LA Times, not because he is (claims to be) a “liberal,” but because he is a sloppy writer, a sloppy thinker and an intellectually dishonest bully. Your fawning praise of this sleazebag makes me wonder how much he paid you to write it.

Yours in outrage,
DS

Send further analogies to Lamont-Lieberman—preferably with the anti-war candidate winning—to rshaw@beyondchron.org

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