Apologies

Author: Gary Hart

I have taken down the most recent posting entitled A Fable for Our Times.  I accept responsibility for it and regret having posted it.

Unfortunately, in the current highly-charged political atmosphere, I am guilty of adding fuel to a fire veering too close to the edge of civility.

Several responses unnecessarily revisited my own national campaign long ago and others went so far as to compare my candidacy to that

of Mr. Trump.  Others alluded to alleged but unproven allegation of illegality on the part of Mrs. Clinton.  Having decried the bitterness

and nastiness of today’s politics I should not have encouraged it further.

Gary Hart

16 Responses to “Apologies”

  1. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    Thank you for taking this last posting down. I know I am tense over many things going on in today’s political arena and I have noticed it has affected my objectivity to a degree I find most disturbing. These are indeed trying times.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Senator Hart …

    … I pardon you. 🙂

    Sorry but, that’s one of my favourite lines from Schindler’s List and I try to never miss an opportunity to use it in a comment. I don’t know what that says about me but, it is what it is. Ahem.

    Seriously though, you shouldn’t feel like you are walking on eggshells, so to speak. Sometimes, it is important to voice unpleasant truths or impart cautionary tales and accept that responses may not always rise to the level that you would like to see.

    Your blog is a unique one in that it always encourages thoughtful people to contribute in a respectful manner. But, you shouldn’t be discouraged when passions run high. Matters of Principle is an exemplary blog that can certainly withstand discussion that is passionate and critical and that, at times, comes up to the edge of civility.

    Indeed, in the midst of the dysfunctional political and media culture that dominates the public face of US politics, blogs like yours must, at the appropriate time, say the things that need to be read and rest assured that the majority of readers and those participating in the discussion will deal with it appropriately.

    After all, correct me if I’m wrong but, this blog is highly moderated, is it not? 🙂

  3. John Kane Says:

    Were you on the ballot senator Hart, I would vote for you. You sir are what this country needs and unfortunately not what we have. I hope you know that.

  4. LORENZO CHERIN Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    To mention you and your campaign , anything about you as a person or politician, those who admire you and like you , in the same sentence as Donald Trump, the man , what he stands for, and encourages, for any reason other than to show complete contrast, is to not know you at all ,and not see Donald Trump for what he is!

    To refer to Hillary Clinton , with each and every flaw magnified , all and any of her mistakes very many times multiplied , as being like Donald Trump , is to not see Hillary Clinton at all , and not know who Donald Trump is.

    Senator Hart, you would , I am sure , compared to none or most , have made a fine , indeed one of the finer, presidents.

    Hillary Clinton is going to make a fine president.

    Compared to Donald Trump …no … I cannot compare either of you … to him!

  5. Paul Borg Says:

    Dear Senator Hart,

    I’m beginning to forget about Mr. Trump and watch what Senator Sanders is doing and saying. I find it a refreshing exercise in putting shadows in their place and enjoying the sunshine.

    I am very proud of him and the work he’s taken on to transform this country. All candidates for president benefit from his being on the stage in ways they probably don’t even realize.

    In my view, Donald Trump needed (notice past tense) to be in our face if only for the simple reason he showed us where we could go if we stayed asleep at the wheel.

    Secretary Clinton is pulling ahead in the polls. Mr. Trump is modifying his game plan and the Republicans apparently are worried their position in the House and Senate is not so secure.

    Finally, I believe the shadowy forces operating just out of public view are beginning to feel a bit uncomfortable just because we are more awake.

  6. Bill Pruden Says:

    Senator Hart,
    The question of whether you should or needed to remove your original post could be debated from countless different directions, an exercise that would highlight that unique freedom of expression that is so central to our nation. But beyond that, in many ways–at least to me–what is most striking about your decision–and indeed the title of the second post–is your willingness to admit a perceived mistake, to take responsibility. As a long time observer of politics and a teacher of history and government for over three decades, one of the things that is so lacking in this year’s campaign and in the candidates is the responsibility, humility, and its attendant humanity that a simple admission of error represent. Those of us who admire and respect you do it not out of a belief that you are superman, but out of recognition that your humanity has been characterized by a deep seated commitment to the best interests of the American people and this country. In weathering the ups and the downs but always coming back to serve, you have been a shining example, and that as much as your many specific accomplishments, is no less a part of your distinguished career, and your noble legacy. Thank you for all of it. There are still those who can and hopefully will learn from what you offer.

  7. Brian C McCarthy Says:

    Senator,

    I didn’t feel that your last post was particularly inappropriate but I do salute you for taking it down if you felt it was below your standards or contributing to the lack of civility that we all lament.

    That being said, I am actually quite angered and indignant at the idea of anyone comparing your candidacy to that of Mr. Trump’s, and I am honestly slightly disappointed in you for giving attention to such b.s. When did you belittle and mock disabled people? Or make sexist comments about female reporters? Or impugn the reputation of an entire country or religion? Or invite foreign leaders to spy on your political opponents? When did members of the previous Democratic administration publicly denounce you as a threat to national security? In what foreign country did anyone ask visiting Americans, about you, “are you Yanks really going to elect that f-in’ madman?” as as friend of mine was asked in Dublin this week?

    That you took your previous post down, if you thought it was even slightly contributing to the poisoned political atmosphere, is a great credit to you, sir. Mr. Trump would never do so. But please don’t give any weight to the opinion of anyone who compares your candidacy to his, in any possible way. The very idea is repulsive to those of us who are your longtime and loyal supporters.

    BCM

  8. Tom Gee Says:

    Senator,

    I join the many supportive thoughts here expressed. To me, your decency, humanity, intelligence, prescience, leadership, and commitment to service have formed the bridge upon which I and many others travelled from the Kennedy era to the Obama presidency. I see you and Mr. Trump at the extreme opposite ends of the spectrum of what it means to be a good person. Keep your brilliant posts coming, and thank you.

  9. Gary Hart Says:

    At an age that far exceeds numerically how I feel physically and spiritually, I try to learn something every day, including about myself. Those who have followed this site for some time know I occasionally swear off politics, and then do something like the late disappearing blog. Aristotle said that politics was the art of caring for souls. So, how can one really swear off it in that context. Besides, for much of my life it was the here and now vocation of caring for souls as a substitute for the original vocation of caring for souls in the hereafter.
    I am blessed to have so many good friends on this site. Thank you.
    GH

  10. Eric C. Jacobson Says:

    This comment was substantially composed before Sen. Hart’s mention of Aristotle’s definition of politics as “the art of caring for souls,” a definition I like better than sociologist Max Weber’s I reference below.

    The field of “politics as a vocation” (in Max Weber’s phrase) has an officious bloodless side, emphasizing orderly means of compromising the hard realities of life in private-sector-dominated free societies. These include the historic and persisting ugly American realities of class warfare such as those George McGovern wrote his doctoral thesis about at Northwestern — the 1913-1914 coal miners strike at Ludlow, Colorado, the host’s home state. There, in McGovern’s words, in April 1914: “a dozen women and children encamped in tents…were suffocated when strikebreakers and units of the Colorado National Guard burned the tents in a pitched battle with the striking miners” (the Ludlow Massacre).

    George summarizes the same at pp. 48-49 of his 2004 book titled The Essential America: Our Founders and the Liberal Tradition, the one book I am determined to finish this summer. (I noticed it is one of the few books on my shelves authored by McGovern (the host’s original political mentor) and the host himself, that does not bear an autographed inscription and kind personal line. The hand-written line McGovern sent me here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ilXuTzT1mlc09IRGdqRlVXV1U/view?usp=sharing , in which he shares my profound unease about Bill Clinton’s neo-liberalism (which had then just survived Pat Buchanan’s 1996 rightist populist challenge — one that was a dud compared to Trump and his supporters’ current regressive version of “rage against the machine”) — is one of my cherished keepsakes of a life spent in part at the margins of American politics.

    (Poet John Milton’s line: “They also serve who only stand and wait” has been my motto but the thought brings less and less comfort over time as I’ve witnessed our nation and world go from bad to worse over the entirety of my adulthood.)

    In 1914 President Wilson’s buttoned-down managerial response to the class warfare at Ludlow (sending in federal troops to restore order but effectively break the strike) exemplifies the tradition of the progressive line of American pols (of both old parties), running from Grover Cleveland, whose favorite line was “What’s the use of running for office if you don’t stand for something?” to Teddy Roosevelt all the way through Lyndon Johnson, a tradition that reached reached its zenith in McGovern’s great crusade in 1972 to limit President Nixon to one term and stop the mindless Vietnam War cold (which constituted my introduction to politics and voting).

    At the presidential level the progressive spirit continued beyond 1972 only in runner-up candidacies — Mo Udall in 1976, Ted Kennedy in 1980, Gary Hart in 1984, Jesse Jackson in 1988, Jerry Brown in 1992, Bill Bradley in 2000, Howard Dean in 2004, John Edwards in 2008, and (quite vividly anew) with Bernie Sanders candidacy in 2016 (BEFORE alas he “folded like a cheap suit”).

    There is a less arms-length approach taken by those aspiring to political leadership that views the decision to enter “the arena” (in TR’s phrase) in more existential terms. It is closer to the spirit Shakespeare dramatized in Hamlet, a character (a Danish prince) whose world (and time itself) has been thrown “out of joint” by a heinous (unsolved) crime: the murder of his father (the Danish king) by his uncle, an uncle who coveted both his sister-in-law (Hamlet’s mother, the Danish queen) and his brother’s powers as king of Denmark.

    The issue for those viewing trends in their times in such existential terms is the one Shakespeare alludes to in the brilliant soliloquy Hamlet recites mid-play:

    “To be, or not to be–that is the question:
    Whether ’tis nobler in the mind to suffer
    The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune
    Or to take arms against a sea of troubles
    And by opposing end them.”

    One thinks of unsung lawyer Abraham Lincoln’s horror at the 1854 Kansas-Nebraska Act (which negated the Missouri Compromise and which in turn caused Kansas, the host’s home state, to “bleed”) and what it portended for America — the likely expansion of slavery westward to the sea, something that would have institutionalized that criminal bondage likely beyond any ability to ever extirpate it. I believe Lincoln recognized that in the long run that the foul 1854 Act making slavery a state-by-state option, would have deformed our nation into some new world replica of apartheid South Africa (or present day Israel at least as it pertains to the occupied territories, but that’s another discussion entirely).

    Lincoln had some of Weber’s vocational politician in him but I would put him more in the category of a Hamlet figure. I would say the same for the populist William Jennings Bryan whose evangelical 1896 Democratic candidacy began to end the Gilded Age, and for socialist Eugene Debs, the passionate protest candidate against World War 1, and for Upton Sinclair, the great muckraking writer who also ran for Governor of California in 1936 on a left-of-Franklin-Roosevelt “End Poverty in California” (EPIC) platform. I think of Robert Kennedy in this way, as I do Martin Luther King, Jr., whose conscience compelled him to cross the color line from civil rights into presidential-type politics in his 1967 Riverside Church speech criticizing the abhorrent Vietnam War, which real audacity likely cost King his life (as did soon thereafter the temerity of so many “uppity blacks” who had dared to organize and join the Black Panther party).

    This may get me censored by the host but I’m going to say it anyway: A perverse version of this Hamlet-like existential spirit is animating Donald Trump’s improbable presidential candidacy (or at least his supporters). Today, as political scientist Ronald Inglehart’s et al’s fine monograph published July 29th (Google “Trump, Brexit, and the Rise of Populism”) makes clear, millions of Europeans and Americans find themselves in a world where “time is out of joint”. If the New York Times’ press report is true, Mr. Trump’s campaign has just received some $60 million in July alone in contributions from such small donors online. (This is Sanders-level numbers albeit from very different kinds of people.)

    What is motivating the supporters of Brexit and Trump etc.? In simple terms, the nations of their birth have been profoundly mis-led on a bipartisan basis by 2-3 generations of neoliberal politicians who have adhered to profoundly misguided policies that undermined these citizens’ economic and social security so as to enrich the super-rich businessmen paymasters who financed the campaigns and careers of those utterly pedestrian and opportunistic office-holders. I refer to pols such as Britain’s Tony Blair and the Clintons here at home.

    Those politicians and their business donor class have turned the world into the dystopian one envisaged with eerie foresight by Paddy Chayevsky, the screenwriter of the 1976 classic film Network. In a scene that is dated only by the roster of the corporations it lists and some of its faux-sophisticated financial terminology but otherwise could have been written yesterday, Ned Beatty’s character reads the “riot act” to “Howard Beale”, a network correspondent who has “gone rogue” (in Sarah Palin’s phrase) and started channeling the pent-up rage of his viewers. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V9XeyBd_IuA (starting at 42 second mark).

    In 1976, this purported just-beneath-the-surface rage amongst the populace may have been satire, although the George Wallace vote in 1968 and 1972, on the one hand, and left-liberal protests and voters for Gene McCarthy and Robert Kennedy and George McGovern of those same years suggests otherwise. The trends already vivid enough for Chayevsky to write his famous scene in 1975-76 have now had 40 YEARS to percolate. Today the rage is real and very widespread. See eg. “Uprising in the Rust Belt” here: http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2016/06/coal-country-democrats-donald-trump-2016-213988 . See also the unobstructed cover photo here: https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B5ilXuTzT1mldlprWkc3X1UyQVk/view?usp=sharing .

    Whatever chance the Democrats had to make globalization gibe with the material interests of the wage-earning American multitudes, was lost with the demise of Senator Hart’s presidential prospects in 1987-1988. See Hart’s lament to David Shribman here: http://www.post-gazette.com/opinion/david-shribman/2016/06/19/Vitriol-and-rebellion/stories/201606190087 at ¶10).

    And although I was happy to echo the host’s “trade” mantra during the 1980s (when it had taken on the aura of the “plastics” mantra an avuncular figure whispers to the Dustin Hoffman character in 1970s movie The Graduate) it never occurred to me that free trade precepts would ever be construed to extend beyond relations between nations of the developed world with one another. And I cannot believe that the host, had he been elected to the presidency, would have EVER allowed the concept to be perverted to include the construction of a one-world-economy with the attendant downward pressure on US living standards placing working class Americans into wage and jobs competition with the world’s poorest people would inevitably exert.

    In any event, the American voters’ “jury verdict” on “globalization as we now know it” is now coming in, fast and furious. On this Sanders and Trump voters agree: The answer is NO! No to the perverse experiment in creating a “one-world economy” that divests developed-world nations of sovereignty over their own domestic police policies over trade, immigration and the size of their labor markets (which is a key determinant of wage levels, the tighter the better for wage-earning employees, the looser the better for business-owning employers), as well as consumer product and environmental standards, etc, ad infinitum.

    As to all these matters, the American people are now saying, loud and clear, that the American canvass is a plenty large enough “common market” essentially by itself, and certainly in concert with Canada and other DEVELOPED nations of the world. Americans also want to be good “global citizens” and to cultivate the enlargement of democratic (small d) middle class prosperity, values and practices abroad in what JFK called in his inaugural “the huts and villages of half the globe” but NOT at the expense of their own standard of living.

    These Americans (and between Sanders and Trump supporters we constitute the VAST majority) are rejecting the career pols — the host is NOT one — who prostituted themselves to the 1% who (along with these very wealthy Americans’ partners in Communist China and counterpart elites in the developing world who have misled THEIR peasants-turned-factory workers into vassalage to the US 1%) are the SOLE major beneficiaries of globalization as we know it.

    In sum, regardless of whether Mrs. Clinton, with the help of her complicit corporate media presstitutes (who are now trying their damnedest to bully, brainwash and gas-light the wage-earning US public into once more voting for one of the nominees of the 2 corrupt old parties — in this case the Democrat — and thereby against their own interest), wins in November, or Mr. Trump (who is obviously in many many ways a flawed populist messenger) becomes the 45th president, it looks like the “jig is finally up” for neoliberal politics as we’ve known it. In Britain and the U.S. anyway, and if Mr. Inglehart is correct, for all of Western Europe as well.

    Neither I, nor to my knowledge anyone else who has supported Sen. Hart’s political endeavors over the decades and today occasionally contributes commentary on his thoughtful conscientious and much appreciated blog posts, is happy that the mantle of change in 2016 has fallen to a regressive revolutionary (if Donald Trump can be called such, and I believe he can). But, in Ms. Miller’s recently employed phrase: “It is what it is.”

    Very significantly too, that change includes Trump’s far saner view of US – Russian relations than Hillary, who is plainly an anti-Russian bigot surrounded by neo-conservative maniacs such as Robert Kagan and his wife Victoria Nuland. Accordingly, Mrs. Clinton is far more likely than Mr. Trump to start WW3. This is no joke. See the State Department’s spokeswoman’s chilling description of our ultra-provocative (read “clinically insane”) official position on Crimea here: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-08-10/putin-warns-ukraine-russia-will-respond-to-terror-in-crimea .

    Unfortunately, in today’s “out of joint” world and time, this is one ardent supporter of Bernie Sanders in the 2016 Democratic primary, who cannot follow Sanders’ current echo of the host’s call to his fellow Democrats for unity in 1984. Hart then said memorably in his Convention speech: “To the Republicans I say this: Take no comfort from this Democratic family tussle. Ronald Reagan has given us all the unity we need. The stakes are too high to sit this election out.” And, after the fateful roll-call in Mondale’s favor, Hart for good measure, came back to the podium to say: “There’s a time to fight and a time to unite….” And during the fall Hart made dozens of speeches urging his supporters and voters to vote for the doomed desultory Democratic ticket. All to no avail.

    (So painful was that to witness that in the disastrous Mondale campaign’s closing days, I sent a letter to the editor of the New York Times about it, explaining the basic nature of the problem, one they were kind enough to publish: http://www.nytimes.com/1984/10/30/opinion/l-yuppies-are-looking-for-activist-leaders-045223.html .)

    Contrary to my fellow Hart blog commenters (except for what I gather is a small minority of others who share my view), my conscience compels me NOT to endorse with my vote the treacherous neoliberal and hawkish policies of Hillary Clinton and the anti-democratic (small d) strong-arm tactics she and her husband and DNC minions (Debbie Wasserman Shultz et al.) employed to cheat Bernie Sanders and his supporters out of a fair shake, and very probably out of a rightful nomination victory, during the 2016 primary season.

    No how. No way. I say: “Let justice be done though the heavens fall.”

  11. Doug Sundby Says:

    Nothing to apologize for, Gary. Stand like a rock.

  12. Chris R. Says:

    I agree with much of what Eric C. Jacobson wrote, especially regarding the failure of neo-liberal economics and trade policy, Trump’s saner foreign policy, (there is no reason to start WWIII over the boundaries of a novel state which were arbitrary drawn by massive ethnic cleansing and crimes against humanity), and his utter rejection of the coronation of a corrupt political spouse.

    The one thing that I would consider our host to have been guilty of doing, was after he promised to have an administration of “highest possible standards of integrity and ethics”, four years later he supported someone with the lowest, over the reform campaign of his law school classmate. In short, given the choice between endorsing much needed political reform in the Democratic Party itself, and neo-liberal economics, he chose the later. That choice, more so than any other event in his political career chronicled by Mr. Bai, best explains his subsequent fate.

  13. Gary Hart Says:

    I wish I had a clue as to the meaning of Chris R’s second paragraph, but I don’t.
    GH

  14. Chris R. Says:

    Ah, well the big clue would be Jerry Brown, Yale Law School Class of ’64. In 1992 the then ex-governor of California ran, in his words, an “insurgent” campaign against a corrupt political establishment in Washington, and by extension, the Congress which was controlled by Democrats. Here’s the video clip of Gov. Brown laying out the pay-to-play in Arkansas with the Clintons through the Rose law firm:
    http://100percentfedup.com/priceless-watch-bill-clinton-defend-hillarys-criminal-activity-in-1992-presidential-debate/
    It followed the Clinton’s to DC and would become known generally as the Whitewater scandals.

    Gov. Brown made a point to limit contributions to his campaign to $100 only from individuals. He took his campaign all the way to the convention, and thus was far more successful than his classmate’s campaign of four years previous which had only declined contributions from PACs. Curiously, that classmate failed to support him:
    “BEGALA: Senator, let me ask about your political activity during that period. Who did you vote for in the Democratic primaries in 1992? 
    ….
    HART: Oh, yes. It was Clinton. 
    BEGALA: Good for you. You were a visionary, too. ”
    http://www.cnn.com/TRANSCRIPTS/0301/27/cf.00.html

    Now, considering that Bill Clinton ran as a demagogue promising a middle class tax cut, which anyone with a brain knew wasn’t happening, and former Massachusetts Senator Paul Tsongas also competed in the 1992 Colorado Primary that year and made that point very well, a competent biographer would need to consider why the former Senator from Colorado had chosen to vote for such demagoguery over his reformist Yale classmate or another former Senator advocating a more honest fiscal policy. Clinton’s neoliberal economic policy is the most reasonable explanation. Once Clinton and the DLC had been left to define the economic policy of the modern Democratic party, the former Senator from Colorado largely disappeared from that debate. The world doesn’t know exactly what he would have done differently.

  15. Gary Hart Says:

    Commentators on this blog are to be complimented on their long memories. Whether the otherwise unnamed Senator from Colorado made a bit of difference in the outcome of the 1992 Democratic nomination race by his single, if not singular, vote remains an open question. His recollection was that very few, if any, people were paying much attention to whom he did, or did not, support other than with a single vote and nothing else.
    One correction: the Senator from Colorado does not recollect the number of delegates Gov. Brown received in his 1992 contest but he does recall his own campaign, eight years earlier, receiving over 1200 delegate votes, reflecting 25 or so primary and caucus victories. Others must decide which campaign was, or was not, “far more successful.’

  16. Chris R. Says:

    A thoughtful academic discussion of the ascension of neo-liberalism in the Democratic Party would need to consider the campaigns, political doctrines and beliefs of both. They certainly had discernible commonalities, i.e., attending the same elitist Law School, an initial religious calling before entering politics, making headlines for the women with whom they were associated, etc. However, most would likely conclude that neither had been successful in their numerous attempts to run for president since neither ever received enough delegates at the convention for the nomination.
    Why neither was successful is a debatable topic, but ultimately leads to the rise of the Clintons, only the second president to have been impeached and his scandal ridden wife.

    However, the connection between them is undeniable. They never ran against each other for the nomination, and Gov. Brown was called the Senator from Colorado’s “John the Baptist” by Mark Shields of the Washington Post. That in itself is curious, because Gov. Brown never lost his head (politically speaking) and today is again the governor of the largest state in the nation. Yet, his classmate failed to support him in his campaign against special interest corruption, nor used his precedent of limiting campaign contributions to a respectable amount as a way to reenter the national political debate. (A commentator might note that after his success in 1984, the Senator was unable to repay his campaign debts in full, and that the failure to raise money, and not other more publicized events, ultimately doomed his subsequent campaign which sent him off into kind of exile.)

    They must have interesting conversations on the rare occasions that their paths cross again, (like at class reunions at Yale). Whatever rivalry they have, (and they never appeared to be political allies) about who was more successful, that point will be judged by others. The Senator in 1984 is noted to have said, “The worst sin in political affairs is not to be wrong. It’s to be irrelevant.” By that standard, others could decide who was more relevant, and thus, more successful.

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