They Don’t Make Dems Like HHH Any More

They Don’t Make Dems Like HHH Any More


What do you expect from a blog that calls itself Right-Wing Nut House? Well, surprise yourself. Much of what you see there probably matches your expectation. But how about a heartfelt paean to the hero of the blogger’s youth, Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr.?

Didn’t see that one coming, perhaps. Unless you recall the politics of the 1960s, which didn’t quite match today’s set of random division of issues into “right” and “left.” Humphrey was a true-blue Democrat, but he has the deep respect of modern conservatives. In fact, as RWNH’s post discovered, a great many modern conservatives had their political first crush on Humphrey.

Although a conservative, I always admired Hubert Humphrey and the DFL. They both represented what is best in American politics; strong, heartfelt principles, decency, and a concern for their communities and the country at large. You could strenuously disagree with their ideas. But you would be hard pressed to criticize their sincerity or their love of country.

For my money, Humphrey was one of the good guys that a politician of any party could appreciate, an essentially decent and basically honest man who was screwed out of the presidency twice by his own people — first by the Kennedys’ money and dirty tricks, then by Johnson’s abandonment of his veep. He was the Henry Clay of his generation, and as RWNH points out, he deserves his place in the national pantheon for his bravery in leading the national Democratic Party’s break with segregation in 1948:

“To those who say that this civil rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this, that the time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadows of states’ rights and walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.â€Â?

Here’s a good profile of him:

It was true that he could never learn to stop talking. “Minnesota Chats,� Johnny Carson had once dubbed him. Many people felt that a man who talked that much might not have time to run the country. He had another weakness�many, in fact�but the one least possible to conceal was his need to be loved, or at least liked, by everyone. No exceptions. That came across as a grievous fault�fine trait for a minister, but not for a President. And so Hubert Humphrey never made it to the Oval Office. Yet to have lasted in national politics for so long-thirty years-and to have had a major role in so much that had changed the pattern of American life, he had to have remarkable strengths. He was never counted out of national life, though he could have been�ten, or more likely fifteen, times.

Ridiculed? Often. Defeated? Many times. But he never told people that they would not have Hubert Humphrey to kick around any more. Quite the opposite.

Here’s the introduction to the 1948 speech:

In 1948 he burst into the national consciousness for the first time. That year Mayor Humphrey was a candidate for the U.S. Senate, and led the Minnesota delegation to the Democratic National Convention. There this talkative upstart-hardly known outside his own state, but already determined to correct social injustices wherever he saw them�forced a strong civil rights plank on the convention and down the throat of President Harry S Truman. Party chieftains had argued that only “party unity� could give Truman, the underdog, any chance at all against Republican Thomas E. Dewey. So the “fix� was in: a Southern “States’ rights� plank would be proposed and defeated. The same fate would befall the strong civil rights plank that Humphrey intended to introduce. Then the convention could proceed to adopt a “compromise� Truman plank that would placate the South and avert a walkout. But Humphrey, who had no black voting constituency whatsoever back home�there were hardly any blacks in Minnesota-refused to go along. His own father, a delegate from South Dakota, told him that what he was doing “may tear the party apart.� Powerful party figures warned him that the course he had charted for himself would lead him “from mayor to pip-squeak to oblivion.� But his mind was made up. When Hubert Humphrey, Sr., sensed as much, he finally told his son: “You’ve got to go with it. You can’t run away from your conscience.� Humphrey took the floor and delivered a fiery speech, full of passion and conviction. It may have been the most persuasive he ever delivered.

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