Leonard Zwelling

         The only Presidential election in the Age of Aquarius was won by
one Richard M. Nixon with Vice Presidential nominee Spiro T. Agnew. They
defeated then Vice President Hubert Humphrey and his running mate Edmund
Muskie. George Wallace siphoned off sufficient numbers of votes in the Deep
South to forever alter the electoral map. What was once the solid Democratic
South was no more and Nixon’s Southern strategy eventually turned into a
dependable bloc of Republican electoral votes. Lyndon Johnson had feared that
his groundbreaking efforts at civil rights legislation would cost the Democrats the South
“for a generation” (although it is not at all clear that he actually said this:
No matter. It was correct.

         What the heck does this have to do with the current run for
the White House? Everything.

         Let’s look at the parallels. On the Democratic side at this
point in time over a year before the election, there is a prohibitive
frontrunner, Hillary Clinton. She is inevitable. That’s exactly what everyone
was saying about LBJ about now in 1967. There was an outside candidate willing
to challenge LBJ’s stance on the Vietnam War. His name was Eugene McCarthy and
on November 30, 1967 he officially challenged LBJ for the nomination. He was a
Senator from a northern state, Minnesota. Today, we have Senator Bernie Sanders
from a northern state, Vermont, challenging the inevitable favorite. When LBJ
dropped out of the race on March 31, 1968, McCarthy was well on his way to
developing a viable alternative. But was he that alternative? Not if Bobby
Kennedy jumped in and he did on March 16, 1968. Will Elizabeth Warren serve the
RFK role this year if Hillary continues to stumble or she takes a header over
the emails, the Keystone-XL pipeline or Benghazi? 

         Of course, on June 6, Bobby was assassinated, McCarthy ran
out of steam and the Dems resorted to the sitting VP, Humphrey, who took too
long to distance himself from LBJ’s failed war and lost to Tricky Dicky. If all this transpires in 2016, will the Democratic nominee wind up being current VP Joe Biden and will he, like Humphrey before him, lose?

         On the Republican side, The Donald appears to be the
spoiler. That was a role George Wallace played in 1968. The actual GOP
nomination that year was a fight for who could correct the ultraconservative and losing message of Barry Goldwater, the 1964 candidate. Was it to be Nelson Rockefeller
and the classic eastern Republicanism or the western branch represented by that
Ole Commie hunter Nixon. We all know how that turned out and could Watergate
have been far behind a man with a shadow on his chin and his personality like
Nixon? But by the Watergate hearings, Nixon had been re-elected by running
against the precise candidate he wanted to, George McGovern, not Edmund Muskie
(caught crying in the snow: http://www.usnews.com/news/articles/2008/01/17/72-front-runners-tears-hurt). That McGovern was the nominee was a more important aspect of Watergate than was Deep Throat. Nixon fixed the election even to the point of determining his opponent through the use of “dirty tricks.”

         This year, despite The Donald’s poll numbers, it appears
that the GOP will yet again have a fight between the nouveau righty sons of Goldwater (Walker,
Paul, Cruz, etc) and the less severe righty sons of Bush (in one case, literally) (Bush, Rubio, Christie, etc). It
should be fun, I guess, except when you consider what is at stake and how
poorly most of these people represent rational thought—on both sides. We have
already had outrageous statements from The Donald, Mike Huckabee and Ted Cruz with minimal outrage from their opponents. Undoubtedly we will have more poorly chosen rhetoric as the challengers vie for a seat in one of the
musical chairs on the debate podium. Why the GOP can’t have two debates of 8 each
with people assigned to chairs by lot is beyond me.

         In the end, 1968 was a terrible year for America. Cities
burned. Campuses erupted. Social order crumbled and the Chicago police beat the
hell out of many young people at the Democratic National Convention despite Abe
Ribicoff, former Governor of Connecticut, calling out Chicago Mayor Richard
Daley for his Gestapo tactics. “The whole world was watching…”

         (It was, however, a great year for music as the
Beatles were Hey Juding—na,na,na,na,na,na,na–and Janis broke a “Piece of My

         What was even more notable is that the ensuing chaos in the
Democratic ranks eventually gave birth to Jimmy Carter aided by Mr. Nixon’s
malfeasance surrounding the Watergate scandal and Gerald Ford’s pardon of Nixon. Then, despite the Democratic win in 1976, Barry Goldwater had his
revenge in Ronald Reagan’s election, George H. W. Bush’s one-term follow-up,
Bush 43 and the broken china, and the 16 candidates now competing for the
Reagan mantle.

         The Dems have not done all that much better. President Clinton
had a chance but couldn’t keep his pants on, tell the truth, or act like an
adult even to this day. He taught his wife well as she doesn’t believe big boy
rules apply to big girls when it comes to classified emails or answering
reporters’ questions.

         The year 1968, when I was 20, was a big deal. Like all
history, it led to more history and was, indeed, presaged by the Age of
Aquarius, Haight-Ashbury and the awful decisions made surrounding our military
involvement in Southeast Asia by LBJ and his Harvard predecessor with his Crimson advisors. It led to Woodstock,
Altamont and the end of the Age of Aquarius, almost before it began. Once they
make a movement a Broadway show (Hair), it’s over!

         Please keep the span of history in mind when discussing the
current situation at MD Anderson, too. Dr. DePinho did not spring out of Zeus’
head as a force of malevolence. He too came to a ground fertile for corruption,
laden with bodies of the departed or about to be, and no longer embodying the
core values that were espoused by the very people who ignored them before
DePinho became a glimmer in Ken Shine’s eye.

         History is just one damned thing after another. That was
true of Vietnam, Nixon, Watergate, Monica and Iraq. It is also true on

         Either we learn from it or we pay up. Again.

Leonard Zwelling