Greek tragedy is a sad spectacle on the political stage, as George Lodge is painfully proving. The awkwardly handsome young candidate for senator is facing forces insuperable to anyone with above average looks, charm, intelligence, effort and honesty. George Lodge has all the attributes of an outstanding Congressman or of an adequate senator. His opponent might suffice in the House. But Teddy Kennedy, thirty years old, never held a job...you know the story...is taking odds like Liston. The hero knows how Hector felt, even if Teddy is no Achilles. The dilemma does not intimidate Lodge, but it must confound him: "Teddy is a nice fellow, I met him in Lagos. I'd be inclined to vote for him for District Attorney, but senator....?"
Perhaps the most oppressive weight on Lodge is the superficial similarity between 'Teddy and George.' At 35, Lodge is only five years older than the Kennedy he calls a kid. Neither has held elective office; both have politically prolific families. "Teddy's campaign is to make us seem comparable," says Lodge. "It's not so much that I am five years older, but I have been working for fifteen years." This included six years in Washington as Undersecretary of Labor to Eisenhower and JFK. In response to the dynasty issue lodge emphasiszes, "If my father had been elected vice-President I would never have run for the senate."
Lodge admits he is running behind Kennedy but he parts company with most experts when he forecasts an uphill pull to victroy. Despite the Kennedy lead Lodge is not running in the game-little-scrapper tradition of Truman or using the desperation tactics of Nixon. Lodge maintains he confidence and dignity of the winner he seemingly cannot be. Lodge strategy assumes that the Kennedy campaign came to a premature climax. "Teddy reached his peak before the primary. His problem now is to maintain the level; mine is to climax quickly enough." But to anyone who has followed Lodge or Kennedy it is apparent that voter apathy has set in since the primaries.
Lodge is not so pessimistic: he travels sixteen hours a day to close the Kennedy lead. The Lodge-Hughes debates are part of Lodge's simple strategy of achieving maximum exposure. Anyone in Harvard Square can tell you that Lodge can only lose (and has) in open debate with the devastatingly alert Independent. But Lodge is convinced that Hughes will pull votes from Kennedy on domestic issues. Lodge is fighting for the independent and marginal Democratic vote, including unreconciled McCormack supporters. Since Curtis supporters have nowhere else to go, the word Republican has been deleted from the Lodge campaign. Lodge prefers the term 'independent'--to the amusement of Stuart Hughes. Also, in his effort to draw the "swing vote" Lodge secks to identify with the President. He stresses agreement with much of the JFK program and invariably mentions the Distinguished Service award he received from Kennedy. "It doesn't hurt," says Lodge, "it doesn't hurt."
Independence is not merely expediency since Lodge is a sincerely liberal Republican of the Case-Cooper variety. Just as images tend to merge in the campaign, so do positions on the issues. Teddy Kennedy is following the Administration line; Lodge attempts to draw distinctions and offer constructive alternatives. So far he has been unable to find a vital, vote-winning area of disagreement. On medical care for the aged Lodge opposes the compulsory social security approach, but he manages to skirt the basic liberal-conservative clash and to emerge supporting a bigger and better plan "of the individual's choice" with extended coverage to "three million needs people not under social security" and with extended benefits of nursing care. Lodge calls himself "an extremist" on civil rights and demands the promised executive order on federal housing.
On federal aid to parochial schools Lodge has become slightly more candid since March when an exasperated Lawrence E. Spivak declared on Meet The Press. "That is to say the Catholic vote in Massachusetts is still much too strong for an unevasive answer Mr. Lodge?" Lodge now thinks federal aid would be Constitutional for science language, and physical education training. In the Senate Lodge would no doubt be a supporter of bipartisanship in foreign policy. While constantly reiterating the need for "power and the will to use it against the Communists," he avoids emotion alism and refuses to recommend a blockade, of Cuba now.
Recently Lodge has stressed federal prejudice against Massachusetts in the awarding of contracts Lodge, then is not avoiding the issue of who can do more for Massachusetts. He is convinced "Teddy can't do more. He can't risk embarassing his brother. He can't help the President he can't help us. He is a zero... stuck with being a rubber stamp."
The art of modern politics is not exclusively dependent on a good candidate with intelligent convictions. The Lodge campaign is one case in point. It suffers from poor advance planning, an overabundance of hyper-enthusiastic local volunteers, and a glaring absence of advance publicity. Lodge is all too obviously a neophyte it politics. In his eagerness to solicit questions, he too often wastes crucial time in minute debates with hostile voters. Yet, the Lodge campaign has made significant gains; it has borrowed heavily from the JFK organization manual for its own local groups, and Lodge himself effectively uses the Kefauver handshake method.
Whether or not his enthusiasm and personal qualities will elect him despite the obstacles posed by his eager, but unsure organization is hard to tell. The debates do not seem to have given him the impetus he needs, yet Lodge expects that his campaign workers will from the nucleus of a new GOP in this state, even with the expected results in November.