UP 'TIL NOW: A Memoir of the Decline of American Politics by Eugene McCarthy
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UP 'TIL NOW: A Memoir of the Decline of American Politics

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After his brief appearance in the national arena during the 1968 Presidential campaign, McCarthy turned his attention toward becoming America's philosophe. His many books looked at such issues as The Limits of Power, The Ultimate Tyranny: The Majority Over the Majority and Complexities and Contraries: Essays of Mild Discontent. This, when he wasn't writing poetry or children's books (Mr. Raccoon and His Friends). Now, finally, after two decades, he has given us a political memoir of the great figures of our age. McCarthy goes back to his roots in the same Farm-Labor Party in Minnesota that had nurtured Hubert Humphrey and Walter Mondale. The memoir takes off, though, when McCarthy reminisces about his cohorts, that great crowd of 50's Senators, such as Kefauver, Johnson, Kennedy, Morse, Symington, Humphrey, Russell, et al. McCarthy reserves a large dose of venom for JFK and LBJ. He relates how he could never quite trust the former after a Senate incident where, after promising McCarthy his support for a pet bill, Kennedy, at the last crucial moment, voted ""Nay."" His coming over to McCarthy moments later to say ""Sorry about that"" never quite made satisfactory recompense. Kennedy's Irish Mafia manner also comes in for savaging. McCarthy tells of the distasteful time before the 1960 West Virginia Primary, when Kennedy bullied him. ""Tell Hubert to lay off in West Virginia or we will unload on him."" McCarthy says he responded that he was not running the Humphrey campaign, nor would he deliver any such message. Similarly, LBJ is pictured at a Washington gala, storming over the anti war McCarthy, ""I'll take care of you, never fear!"" Ever the philosopher, McCarthy ends this with a long ""en-tropic politics,"" entropy being defined as a state of having no goals or no path of effective action. The author, however, would have been better served by sticking solely to recollections of the high and mighty down and dirty, for that is where this memoir comes alive.

Pub Date: March 26th, 1987
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich