Summer of ’72 Revisited

When events hit the 50-year mark, the collective memory begins to fade, as a whole generation wasn’t around in the first place. That invites a look at the summer of 1972, a crucial election year in America. 

The incumbent president was Richard Nixon, a two-term vice president under Dwight D. Eisenhower. The World War II commander passed away in 1969, after Nixon’s 1968 victory over Hubert Humphrey. That year the New Left launched riots at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago, and four years later in 1972, their influence on the party was showing. Leftist hostility to Nixon went back even further. 

Representative Nixon, a California Republican, had been a member of the House Committee on Un-American Activities at the famous Hollywood Hearings in 1947. Nixon also helped expose Stalinist spy Alger Hiss, and the Left never forgave him for it. For the details, see Perjury: The Hiss-Chambers Case, by Allen Weinstein. 

In 1972, the center of the Communist movement was still the Soviet Union, which maintained full control of Eastern Europe under the Brezhnev Doctrine. For the American Left, defense of the USSR was the primary task, and in 1972 the leftist Democrats had the candidate they wanted. 

George McGovern was a veteran of 35 flying missions in World War II. After that conflict, McGovern opposed President Truman’s “aggressive anti-Soviet policy,” which he considered “dangerous.” McGovern became an enthusiastic supporter of Henry Wallace, whose Progressive Party was a front for the Communist Party.

In 1962, McGovern won a Senate seat in South Dakota. About that time, the Soviets were moving nuclear missiles into Cuba, which McGovern did not consider an aggressive act. In similar style, Soviet attacks on democracy movements in Hungary and Czechoslovakia did not disturb the senator, who fought for cuts to the U.S. military budget. 

McGovern’s position on “arms control” was essentially the same as the Soviets. America is to blame for the Cold War, McGovern believed, so the Soviets must arm and America must limit. Democrats judged McGovern the best candidate to take on Nixon. Meanwhile, in his first Senate run that year, Joe Biden sounded a lot like McGovern. 

The Delaware Democrat decried “endless warfare, reliance on false obligations of global power, overt and covert manipulation of foreign regimes, standing as the sentinel of the status quo are not our true styles.” Nothing about aggression from the USSR, then on the march around the globe, and no demand for the liberation of Eastern Europe.

Nixon retained Vice President Spiro Agnew, a former governor of Maryland. McGovern picked Senator Thomas Eagleton, a Harvard law grad and devout Catholic who opposed abortion and the war in Vietnam. McGovern backed Eagleton “1,000 percent,” but then came an anonymous call. 

On three occasions during the 1960s, Eagleton had been hospitalized for depression and undergone electroshock treatment. After only 18 days, McGovern dumped Eagleton for Sargent Shriver, husband of Eunice Kennedy. For further reading on the Eagleton affair, see The Eighteen-Day Running Mate, by Joshua Glasser. 

Like Nixon, Joe Biden was also a two-term vice president—but the similarities pretty much end there. 

For all his faults, no one ever doubted that President Nixon was in charge. For all but the willfully blind, Joe Biden is physically and mentally incapable of holding national office. 

The White House now officially proclaims the “Biden-Harris Administration,” and Biden even refers to “President Harris.” Biden says he will run for president in 2024, but members of his own party have their doubts. More than a few Democrats also wonder about Harris, whose performance has not exactly proved stellar. 

Nixon regarded McGovern as “soft on Communism,” which was putting it gently. Nixon never charged that his domestic opponents were terrorists, violent extremists or anything of the sort. In 1972, the U.S. Department of Education did not exist, and Nixon made no attempt to meddle in school curricula. 

For comptroller of the currency, Nixon chose William B. Camp, who had served in that capacity under President Lyndon Johnson. During Camp’s term under Nixon, “a rapidly growing economy led to a dramatic increase in the assets held by national banks.”

Biden’s choice for comptroller of the currency was Lenin scholar Saule Omarova, born in Soviet Kazakhstan and author of a thesis on Marx. Her plan would have replicated Soviet banking, basically a belch from the Brezhnev Era. The former Komsomol was not confirmed but the choice was telling. 

The Nixon Administration—it was never the “Nixon-Agnew” Administration—conducted no Stalinist show trials. The “Biden-Harris” Administration, a front for the party’s far-Left, does all that, and more. 

The center of the Communist movement is now China, and Biden is to China as McGovern was to the Soviet Union. If China ever did anything with which Biden disagreed it’s hard to know what it might be. In 2020, Biden referred to the Chinese as “not bad folks,” and not even competition for the United States. 

Joe Biden has financial entanglements with the Chinese regime through the dealings of son Hunter. As president or vice president, nothing of the kind ever surfaced with Nixon.

Illegal border crossings did take place but in 1972 the southern border had no existential problem. Voting by illegals violates federal law, and supporters of such violations were hard to find. 

Joe Biden is an attorney but as vice president he seemed to have a problem with U.S. immigration law. In 2014 Biden said the millions of foreign nationals illegally present in the United States were “already Americans, in my view.” 

That helps explain Biden’s current policy of taking all comers and shipping them around the country on secret flights. Nixon never did anything like that, and he never fell down three times boarding an airplane. 

In 1972, Nixon held a lead in polls but in the end it wasn’t even close. The California Republican bagged 60.7 percent of the popular vote to McGovern’s 37.5. In the Electoral College, Nixon topped McGovern 520-17, and the South Dakota leftist carried only Massachusetts and the District of Columbia. McGovern did not dispute the outcome. 

That same year, Joe Biden, 29, upset incumbent Republican Caleb Boggs with 58 percent of the vote. Biden’s 1988 and 2008 presidential bids failed, and the 2020 vote, supposedly the most secure in history, remains highly disputed. 

Biden thinks he’s doing a great job, and like Voltaire’s Dr. Pangloss, he tells Americans they live in the best of all possible worlds. The people aren’t falling for it. At this writing, 58 percent of voters disapprove of Biden, with 36 percent in favor. Those are not winning numbers, but this is not 1972. 

The illegals that Biden claims are “already Americans” now number some 22 million, and constitute an imported electorate. California’s “motor voter” plan automatically registers illegals to vote when they get a driver’s license, so the Golden State abets a violation of federal law. 

California isn’t revealing how many illegals voted in 2016, 2018, and 2020 and refuses to participate in probes of voter fraud. Similarly, the Biden Justice Department is suing Arizona to block a law that would require proof of citizenship for voter registration. 

Biden recently proclaimed “there is going to be another pandemic,” a justification for mail-in ballots that facilitate voter fraud. As “2000 Mules” documented, ballot boxes get stuffed in the middle of the night. And by all indications, the “extensive and inclusive voter-fraud organization” that Biden openly proclaimed in 2020 is still in place. 

For all his mental vacancy, Joe Biden knows he is on the ballot this fall. As Trump likes to say, we’ll have to see what happens. 

Meanwhile, 50 years ago, the nation was gearing up for the Olympic Games in Munich. Events at those games would cast a shadow stretching all the way to 2022 and beyond. Stay tuned for September. 

About Lloyd Billingsley

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Hollywood Party and other books including Bill of Writes and Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation. His journalism has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, the Spectator (London) and many other publications. Billingsley serves as a policy fellow with the Independent Institute.

Photo: Bettmann Archive/Getty Images

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