No skeletons were rattling in his closet, Thomas Eagleton assured George McGovern’s political director. But only eighteen days later—after a series of damaging public revelations and feverish behind-the-scenes maneuverings—McGovern rescinded his endorsement of his Democratic vice-presidential running mate, and Eagleton withdrew from the ticket. This fascinating book is the first to uncover the full story behind Eagleton’s rise and precipitous fall as a national candidate.
Within days of Eagleton’s nomination, a pair of anonymous phone calls brought to light his history of hospitalizations for “nervous exhaustion and depression” and past treatment with electroshock therapy. The revelation rattled the campaign and placed McGovern’s organization under intense public and media scrutiny. Joshua M. Glasser investigates a campaign in disarray and explores the perspectives of the campaign’s key players, how decisions were made and who made them, how cultural attitudes toward mental illness informed the crisis, and how Eagleton’s and McGovern’s personal ambitions shaped the course of events.
Drawing on personal interviews with McGovern, campaign manager Gary Hart, political director Frank Mankiewicz, and dozens of other participants inside and outside the McGovern and Eagleton camps—as well as extensive unpublished campaign records—Glasser captures the political and human drama of Eagleton’s brief candidacy. Glasser also offers sharp insights into the America of 1972—mired in war and anxious about the economy, a time with striking similarities to our own.
About Joshua M. Glasser
Joshua M. Glasser is a researcher for Bloomberg Television in New York. He graduated magna cum laude from Amherst College, Eagleton’s alma mater. He lives in the Bronx, NY.
“The Eighteen-Day Running Mate: McGovern, Eagleton, and a Campaign in Crisis” by Joshua M. Glasser
The Washington Post Book Review – August 4, 2012 (Excerpt)
The publication of this account of George McGovern’s costly blunder in the 1972 presidential campaign raises the question: What was the most incompetent major-party presidential campaign of the 20th century? No doubt strong cases can be made for William Jennings Bryan in 1908, John W. Davis in 1924, Alfred M. Landon in 1936, Richard M. Nixon in 1960 and Jimmy Carter in 1980, but for my money it’s a tossup between McGovern in 1972 and Michael Dukakis in 1988. Who can forget the 1988 attack ad to end all attack ads, in which Dukakis was shown riding in a tank, his ludicrously helmeted head barely appearing above the top? He may have been the first candidate almost literally laughed into defeat. By the same token, who can forget the extraordinary incompetence that resulted in Thomas Eagleton’s selection as McGovern’s running mate and his dismissal a mere 18 days later?
These days the selection of vice presidential candidates is an incredibly — probably excessively — prolonged and elaborate process, designed not so much to determine his or her compatibility with the presidential nominee as to make sure there are no embarrassing skeletons in the running mate’s closet, though John McCain skimped on the process in 2008 and paid for it with the complicating presence of Sarah Palin on his ticket. This seems a tedious business now, but if Nixon had been more careful in 1968, Spiro Agnew wouldn’t have been inflicted on the country; and if McGovern had done his due diligence in 1972, he wouldn’t have had to suffer the irreparable, self-inflicted damage of repudiating his chosen candidate. To be sure, his defeat probably was a foregone conclusion, given the electorate’s skepticism about his left-of-center views — not to mention the dirty tricks that Nixon’s henchmen were up to — but the Eagleton episode made the campaign that followed essentially pointless. [Read the full article...]
The Thomas Eagleton Affair Haunts Candidates Today
NPR Book Review – August 4, 2012 (Excerpt)
Sometime before the end of the month, when Republicans hold their convention in Tampa, Fla., Mitt Romney will announce his vice presidential running mate.
There’s a good chance the finalists for that spot are wading through mountains of paperwork, and answering deeply personal questions about finances, past statements, friendships — and medical history.
A lot of that tedious process stems from something that happened 40 years ago this summer, when presidential candidate George McGovern decided to place Thomas Eagleton on the Democratic ticket. Joshua Glasser tells the story of that fateful decision in his new book, The Eighteen-Day Running Mate.
In the middle of July 1972, thousands of delegates arrived in Miami for the Democratic convention. Today, conventions are scripted and choreographed events, but back then, that wasn’t the case.
“We went to the convention very uncertain as to whether or not we could sustain our delegations,” former Colorado Sen. Gary Hart, who served as McGovern’s campaign manager, tells weekends on All Things Considered host Guy Raz.
McGovern was the insurgent candidate, and on his road to the nomination, he managed to alienate the party’s old guard. So McGovern needed a running mate who could unite the Democrats. [Read the full article...]
THE BLEEDING HILLS
A Novel by Wilfried F. Voss
I have fought a good fight,
I have finished my course,
I have kept the faith.
- 2 Timothy iv. 7
The Irish War is officially a part of history, but not for Finnean Whelan, an IRA veteran of almost 40 years. British Intelligence has produced evidence that he is the mastermind behind a conspiracy to assassinate the First Minister of Northern Ireland. For Whelan this is not only a mission of revenge, but marks the beginning of a journey into the past and the return to the one true love: Ireland. [More...]
The Bleeding Hills is available at Amazon.Com, Amazon.co.uk, Barnes & Noble, and any other good bookstore.