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McCarthy Still

On the Other Hand


(The following is the opinion of a minority of the CRIMSON's Editorial board and was written by James Lardner.)

IN the furor surrounding Robert F. Kennedy the last few days, political analysts at all levels have somehow failed to appreciate the full significance of Tuesday's election returns. Kennedy himself, in reading New Hampshire as merely a sign of untapped anti-war strength, sees half a picture, and a deceptive one. The 42 per cent tally garnered this week by Eugene J. McCarthy reflects as much on McCarthy's attractiveness as a candidate as on the potency of his major issue. Voters with ambivalent feelings about the war, but with feelings of pronounced distrust for President Johnson and his Administration, were drawn to McCarthy's obvious integrity and to a softspoken style as convincing as it was awkward.

The forthrightness of McCarthy's campaign, beyond its startling appeal to the conservative voters of New Hampshire, is well suited to the task of battling an incumbent President for his party's nomination. The traditional weapons of inter-party struggle are necessarily in the hands of President Johnson; to fight him therefore means to go outside the caucuses and start from the bottom up, to take Vietnam to voters who aren't now disaffected but could be. Eugene McCarthy has shown a willingness to adopt this approach, and a considerable flair for it.

Robert Kennedy, in contrast can be most effective where President Johnson is most solidly entrenched. His electoral potency, though considerable, is a known quantity. Just as his name and image will immediately attract a substantial number of voters, so they will turn off a substantial number, and so they will obscure the issues he would presumably try to bring before his Party.

THE Kennedy appeal is not to be underrated, but its Eastern glamor and youthfulness are ultimately obstacles as well as assets, particularly in arguing a politically fragile issue like Vietnam, fraught as it is with sinister links to beards, long hair, drugs and agents of foreign powers. In short, Kennedy's floor is high but his ceiling is low.

Clearly Robert Kennedy has something to offer the anti-Johnson effort at this stage. But by jumping into the race as a candidate, he would only point up his least attractive side and start off offending a substantial portion of the electorate. By throwing his support behind McCarthy, he can avoid the onus of opportunism, and add his proven abilities as an organizer in familiar surroundings to McCarthy's equally proven abilities as a campaigner in unfamiliar ones. Their potentials can be fused in a way they could not be with Kennedy the candidate.

The case for either man is a difficult one and must evolve from a careful weighing of circumstances as well as men. In the present circumstances. Eugene McCarthy can best finish what Eugene McCarthy has started.

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