A Mighty Long FallrnAn Interview With Eugene McCarthyrnby Bill KauffmanrnSenator Eugene McCarthy is America’s senior statesmanrnwithout a party. An Irish-German Minnesota Catholicrnwho left the seminary for academe, McCarthy was elected tornthe House of Representatives in 1948 and the Senate in 1958.rnHe was the link between the Old Progressives of the UpperrnMidwest and the postwar liberals; as time goes by, his profilernsharpens, and McCarthy seems much closer to Bob LaFolletternthan to Adlai Stevenson.rnHis challenge to President Johnson in 1968—an act of politicalrnsuicide—gave voice to an incipient antiwar tendency inrnwhat had been an extremely hawkish Democratic Party. Hisrnstrong showing in the New Hampshire primary drove LBJ backrnto his ranch, Bobby Kennedy into the race, and McCarthy intorna kind of involuntary exile.rnMcCarthy ran for President as an independent in 1976 andrnwas all but physically barred from competing in the 1992rnDemocratic primaries. His contention that we are becoming arncountry in which “everyone belongs to a corporation and everyonernelse belongs to the federal government” makes him unwelcomernin a party that regards Bill Bradley as a cerebral maverick.rnRichard Rovere once wrote that McCarthy was too far left onrnforeign policy and too far right on domestic matters to win thernDemocratic nomination. Or was he just too far out? Hernpledged to serve only one term if elected and to fill the WhiternHouse Rose Carden with “humble vegetables” because “you’drnhave a hard time announcing war in a cabbage patch.” He publishedrnvolumes of poetry and railed against the tyranny of thernIRS. Of late, he has proposed to increase the number of congressionalrndistricts to 2,000 and revitalize the electoral collegernby turning it into a deliberative convention of 2,500 membersrnelected in districts of 100,000 people.rnHorse-race journalist Jules Witcover complained of Mc-rnBill Kauffman is the author of Every Man a King, CountryrnTowns of New York, and America First!rnCarthy’s “sometimes lackadaisical, sometimes mystical, nearlyrnalways aloof manner.” McCarthy, who turned 80 in March,rnwas hearty and genial when I interviewed him at the AlgonquinrnHotel in New York City.rnQ: What happened to the good old Midwestern Progressive/rnPopulist tradition? From Bob LaFollette to RichardrnCephardt is a mighty long fall.rnA: You see it in Minnesota, where some of the old Farmer-rnLaborites strongly opposed the fusion of the Democrats andrnFarmer-Laborites back in 1944. They said they would lose thernspirit of Ignatius Donnelly and the old Progressives and thernNon-Partisan League. I think the conservative force in Minnesotarnwas actually the labor movement. They became prettyrnmuch Establishment; it came to a head in the 1968 campaign.rnThe party lost its bearing in ’68 on the issue of the war inrnVietnam. If Humphrey hadn’t been the candidate, the DemocraticrnFarmer-Labor Party would’ve been the most antiwarrnparty of any state in the union because they had the double tradition:rnthe isolationism of the Farmer-Laborites, some of themrnopposed even to our involvement in World War II, and therninternationalist Jeffersonian strain that had come from some ofrnthe old Democrats. But with Humphrey as the candidaternadvocating the war, why, the traditional position was rejectedrnand the party became simply an instrument of the nationalrnparty.rnQ: Isn’t it odd that in 1968 the most prominent antiwar figuresrnin politics and music were both Minnesota poets, EugenernMcCarthy and Bob Dylan?rnA: Well, I wasn’t recognized as a poet. Dylan came out of thernnorthern part of Minnesota, which was pretty radical: the mostrnradical labor faction in the state was the Iron Range. Bob didn’trn14/CHRONICLESrnrnrn