Journalism

Recalling George McGovern, up close, during another turning-point presidential campaign

It’s a day to reflect on an early career memory and on what has — and hasn’t — changed in 40 years.

On a fall day during a presidential campaign when an unpopular war was among the issues, I drove from Syracuse to Rochester, N.Y., with photographer Bob Lorenz to cover a campaign stop by a “peace candidate” fighting to unseat Richard Nixon.

Though Sen. George McGovern was part of “the establishment” and seemed very adult (he was 50 then) to young journalists from an off-campus weekly paper, he represented hope and change at a tumultuous time. During a Syracuse New Times interview, according to the yellow-edged article I saved, he spoke about Vietnam (“a great cancer”) and Watergate (“an administration that would bug the national committee headquarters of the opposing party would not hesitate to bug your office, your bank and even your home”).

His death today at 90 connects me to that time and is a reminder of continuity, something worth cherishing.
Back then, before the phrase “alternative media,” I wrote for what was called a counter-culture weekly — “a hippie paper” to critics.  Today, I posted a brief item on the former candidate’s death at Deadline Detroit, a daily online news site.
George McGovern mattered in 1972 still does in 2012. That’s also true for writing about him.

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