Archive for March, 2010

Racist (TEA Party) Thugs? 1965 all over again

March 25, 2010

The current program being executed by the White House and The Usual Suspects mimicking David Axelrod and Rahm Emanuel is the classic “We are civilized and Trying To Help/Save You, but the Republican/TEA Party troglodytes are trying to kill us all.”

That triggered a memory, so I went back to the first political book I ever read, the underrated (because it was actually fun to read) William F. Buckley Jr. campaign memoir “The Unmaking of a Mayor”. This covered the 1965 New York City election that foisted John Lindsay on that city; Buckley entered on the Conservative Party ticket in a vain attempt to stop Silk Stocking John from getting a toehold on national politics while destroying the city. The Lindsay of that day rivaled a certain currently prominent national politician for the award as the personage most worthy to be referred to as TVG (The Vacuous Garment).

Having little to offer at that time other than a pretty face and sycophantic local press eager to help him spread his program to all of the suffering minions: “I care! So I will spend more!”, Lindsay’s campaign planted the familiar “Our opponents are thugs” meme with every newspaper.   From page 259 of the paperback edition of the book, the chapter entitled “The Candidate and ‘His Supporters’”:

“It was over and over again alleged during the campaign that “Buckley supporters” were rowdies, hoodlums, vandals, etc. The charge was first elaborated on September 9, in a front-page story in the World-Telegram with headline stretching across the entire width of the front page: ”RIGHTISTS HARASS LINDSAY.” And the story:

“Rep. John Lindsay and his…campaign workers through the city are being victimized by “vicious right-wing hate tactics,” a source close to the Republican-Liberal candidate disclosed today. Windows in volunteer storefronts have been smashed, telephone lines have been slashed, mail has been opened and destroyed, and several aides have received threatening letters, the source said. In addition, volunteers distributing pamphlets on the street have been “roughed up,” telephone lines have been “jammed” with thousands of calls, and “impostors” are infiltrating the Lindsay ranks.
“The harassment campaign actually began in June when Lindsay himself received threatening telephone calls. The source said one caller warned: ‘John Lindsay must be killed. We have to kill him.’…”

To which Buckley replied in a press release; imagine a politician today disposing of such nonsense with such panache; half of the TV reporters wouldn’t know the meaning of half of the words:

“Mr. John Lindsay, through his agents, has in effect accused the Conservative Party of superintending a program of malicious harassment of him and his campaigners. He alleges that windows in his volunteer storefronts have been smashed, that his mail has been opened and destroyed, that impostors (by which I assume he means Republicans) are infiltrating the Lindsay ranks, that large quantities of mail have been misdirected by espionage, that planted typists have made intentional mistakes which have fouled up distribution lists, and that anonymous gentry have telephoned threats on his life.

“I decline to go through the motions of disavowing these activities, because to do so under the circumstances would be to suggest that they are in some way mine to avow or disavow. Mr. Lindsay, according to his complaint, was accosted by one placard that accused him of being a Communist. It is no more necessary for the Conservative Party to repudiate vandalism, blackmail, and intimidation, than it is for Mr. Lindsay to disavow the charge that he is a Communist. The Conservative Party of New York would never impute pro-Communism to Mr. Lindsay, and only regrets that he has permitted his agents to impute vandalism to us.

“There are crackpots in New York, as there are crackpots everywhere. They do not pick exclusively on Mr. Lindsay. As regards threats against Mr. Lindsay’s life, I will match him threat for threat. . . . As regards eavesdropping, I register herewith my compliments to the doll who listened from the adjacent table to everything I said to and beard from my staff at dinner the other night at a restaurant, and then, as we rose to go, sweetly announced herself as John Lindsay’s personal aide.

“John Lindsay has nothing at all to fear from crackpots. He has a great deal to fear from rational and intelligent men. Mr. Lindsay complains that Conservative Party workers have been assigned to “follow Lindsay volunteers” and “destroy pamphlets Lindsay workers have distributed.” I herewith call on all Conservative Party workers to distribute Lindsay literature alongside my own, confident that anyone who contrasts the two will vote the Conservative Party ticket in November.”

Hat tips to these fine sites that first described the latest stuff regarding Those Dangerous TEA Party folk: