Wednesday, October 26, 2016

when it's nine below zero

-------------------------- "He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it.  He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night."

~~  The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald


You've been through all of
F. Scott Fitzgerald's books

You're very well read
It's well known

Because something is happening here
But you don't know what it is
Do you, Mister Jones?

~~  "Ballad of a Thin Man" - Bob Dylan


In Flawed Giant:  Lyndon Johnson And His Times, 1961 - 1973, historian Robert Dallek writes, of the 1964 presidential campaign:

[excerpt] ----------- ...Goldwater would appeal to the "little people" or the "forgotten majority" who belonged to none of the organized pressure groups representing "Big Business, Big Labor, and Big Government....  there will be the usual laments for the old, simpler America." 

Finally, he would try to exploit disenchantment with foreign aid and foreign policy and general antagonism to the outside world, particularly communism....

Johnson saw two possible ways to deal with Goldwater.  He could answer him with primarily a positive campaign, pointing to the accomplishments of his brief time in office and the promise of more to come in a four-year term.  Or he could subordinate this to a largely negative assault on Goldwater's "extremism" and the dangers he posed to national political traditions and world peace.

...Goldwater was to be made "ridiculous and a little scary:  trigger-happy, a bomb thrower, a radical" who "will sell TVA, cancel Social Security, abolish the government, stir trouble in NATO, be the herald of World War III."...

Goldwater's continuing political recklessness during the campaign gave Valenti's strategy added appeal.  The journalist Theodore White said:  "No man ever began a Presidential effort more deeply wounded by his own nomination, suffering more insurmountable handicaps.  And then . . . he made the worst of them." 

Instead of trimming sail and trying to find a middle ground, where he could broaden his appeal to voters from both sides of the spectrum, he pressed the case for a moral regeneration in America that would eliminate traditional special interest politics and the symbol of the country's corruption, Lyndon Johnson in the White House.

Goldwater emphasized Johnson's immorality by pointing out that he visited "city after city in a political travesty of  the Lord's day" and turned "Sunday into a day of campaign chaos." 

"There was so much dirt swept under the carpet of the White House," Goldwater declared, "that it could qualify for the soil bank."  And "Lyndon Johnson had so much power and wanted so much more power that Democrats didn't know whether to vote for him or plug him in."

To underscore his alienation from conventional politics, Goldwater declared that he had purposely gone into "the heart of Appalachia" and attacked the administration's "phony war on poverty";

he had gone into "the heart of Florida's retirement country" and "warned against the outright hoax of this administration's medicare scheme." 

He took pride in having attacked TVA in the Tennessee Valley and denounced agricultural subsidies in the heart of America's farmland.

...Johnson tried to prepare himself for the race....  He thought all of them, as he told Hubert Humphrey, would be vulnerable to the argument that "the reason the Republicans haven't won any elections [since Hoover] except Eisenhower . . . is because they spend all their time on Roosevelt's boy Jimmy and on his dog, and . . . Truman and Margaret and the music critics and . . . on Kennedy and his religion . . . and . . .

if they don't stand for something, hell, if they just come out here and talk about revival of the corn tassel or come out for Tom Watson watermelons, it'd be something.  But they just, by God, [are] against things, against everything and trying to smear and fear."

Left:  Barry Goldwater.  Center:  Lyndon Johnson,
at a funeral in 1972, the year before Johnson died

Ain't it hard to stumble
And land in some funny lagoon?
Ain't it hard to stumble
And land in some muddy lagoon?
Especially when it's nine below zero
And three o'clock in the afternoon.

Ain't gonna hang no picture
Ain't gonna hang no picture frame
Ain't gonna hang no picture
Ain't gonna hang no picture frame
Well, I might look like Robert Ford
But I feel just like a Jesse James

Well, I wish I was on some
Australian mountain range
Oh, I wish I was on some
Australian mountain range
I got no reason to be there, but I
Imagine it would be some kind of change

I got my dark sunglasses
I got for good luck my black tooth
I got my dark sunglasses
I'm carryin' for good luck my black tooth
Don't ask me nothin' about nothin'
I just might tell you the truth...


"Outlaw Blues" - Bob Dylan - Bringing It All Back Home album, 1965


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