WARD NUMBER SIX by David Lebedoff


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Lebedoff is a sort of nudnik Teddy White (this plausibly could have been called The Making of the Parvenu Politico) who rakes the grassroots of Minnesota participation politics for evidence, no matter how contrived or elliptical, that the system really works. His first book, The 21st Ballot (1969), a case study of the 1966 Democratic-Farm-Labor (DFL) party's nominating convention, affirmed his faith in the efficacy if not the perfectibility of the democratic process. But then came 1968, a year of political convulsion for the Democrats and especially lacerating for DFLers who had to choose between two natives, Humphrey and McCarthy. Lebedoff, a young lawyer fresh from a year in Washington as a senatorial aide, became personally involved in the intraparty squabbling and conniving which he relates first-person here, first at the ward level (Minneapolis' sixth) where he worked as a Hubert man among Gene's kids (as an ""administration dove"") and was outsmarted by a McCarthy operator named Opperman; then at the county convention; then the state; and finally Lebedoff is seen at Chicago as an HHH non-delegate. The experience reinforces Lebedoff's almost messianic belief in the workability of politics Americana: after all, LBJ resigned by popular demand, Humphrey won the nomination because he had the most votes, and, besides, those who were Clean for Gene beat themselves by practicing ""exclusionary politics"" and pursuing a ""winner-take-all"" strategy. This substititution of naive syllogism and fatuous second-guessing for scrupulous analysis impugns Lebedoff's credentials as a pundit, but his insider description of the political lowerarchy does redeem the book however minimally.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1972
Publisher: Scribners