erik lundegaard

Humphrey, at 100, is Still the Man; Nixon Still Goes in the Garbage Can

There's a nice Op-Ed in the New York Times by Rick Perlstein, author of “Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America,” on the forgotten liberal, Hubert H. Humphrey, former Mayor of Minneapolis, Senator from the great state of Minnesota, and a man for whom a downtown stadium was named. It's now called Mall of America Field. So it goes.

Humphrey was born 100 years ago today and Perlstein reminds those who need reminding that he helped turn the Democratic Party toward civil rights in a 1948 speech at the Democratic Convention. Humphrey said:

To those who say this civil rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states’ rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.

A friend on Facebook also gave us this HHH quote:

It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.

One of his friends added this comment, which made me smile:

I was at a dinner once when the speaker said, “We can't just throw money at problems.” Unfortunately for him, Hubert was in the audience. He stood up and said, “What, then, is money for, if not to throw at problems?” I miss him.

He was abused by LBJ, but we know that. Is that LBJ's greatest legacy? Not the Vietnam War, not the Great Society, but abusing his vice-president so much that it paved the way for Nixon and dirty tricks.

Not in our household in south Minneapolis, by the way. My father, a fierce Democrat, once recounted in a letter to his father, a Danish immigrant who voted Republican, some ditty my brother and I had picked up in the schoolyard and recited at the dinner table back home:

Humphrey, Humphrey
He's our man!
Nixon goes
In the garbage can!

My political awakening. I was 5. And not wrong.

Statue of Hubert Humphrey outside the Hennepin County Courthouse in downtown Minneapolis

The Humphrey statue outside the Hennepin County Government Center in downtown Minneapolis. Life-sized, like the man himself.

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Posted at 05:44 PM on Fri. May 27, 2011 in category Politics  
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