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Mark Shields
Mark Shields
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“He Could Have Been a Contender ...”

Comment

At the 1972 Democratic convention that nominated Sen. George McGovern of South Dakota for president, McGovern's choice of a running mate was postponed until the convention's last day. At the urging of his campaign manager, Gary Hart, McGovern called the charismatic mayor of Boston, Kevin White, to ask him whether he would accept an invitation, if it were offered, to join the ticket. White said he would, and McGovern promised to get back to him shortly.

Then, according to Pierre Salinger, who was in the suite with McGovern at the time, McGovern called Sen. Ted Kennedy, his first choice, who had already turned him down, to inform Kennedy of his conversation with White. According to Salinger, McGovern reported that Kennedy, after learning of the likelihood of White's selection, asked McGovern for a half-hour while he, Kennedy, reconsidered running for VP.

Almost immediately, former ambassador J. Kenneth Galbraith and U.S. Rep. Father Robert F. Drinan, both McGovern delegates, got through to McGovern to warn the nominee that the choice of White, an early supporter of Sen. Edmund Muskie, would produce a revolt — and possibly a walkout — of the Massachusetts McGovern delegation. After this, Kennedy called back McGovern to say he could not run. Salinger recalled McGovern reporting, "I don't think if we go ahead with White we'll have Sen. Kennedy campaigning for the ticket with any enthusiasm."

Barely a week after that 1972 convention, I had dinner alone with White in Boston, where, with some emotion, I told him of how his golden opportunity for the vice presidential nomination had been deliberately undermined by his fellow Massachusetts Democrats, especially by Kennedy. With the characteristic candor and analytical shrewdness I so admired in him, White said of Kennedy's sabotage, "I would have done the same thing to him if I'd had the chance."

Even with White, McGovern still would have lost badly that year to Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew.

But think about it: Nixon would resign in less than two years, not even a year after the corrupt Agnew was forced to resign. McGovern was never going to be nominated again. In that cast of characters, Kevin White — a Democrat who never forgot the Irish-Catholic neighborhoods from which he came but whose restless intellect and natural charm won him the confidence of liberals, academics and the community at large and who, in four City Hall terms, truly did transform Boston into a world-class city — would have become the favorite of the national press and a national contender.

Being mayor of a big city is frankly the best possible preparation for being president. A senator is just one of 100 and therefore not personally responsible for what the Senate does or, more likely, does not do. The mayor is judged by tougher standards. Are the streets safe? Was the trash in the alley picked up? Did you fix the potholes?

Senators raise issues and make tough speeches. Mayors raise taxes and make tough decisions. Mayors also make appointments to positions of real responsibility, any one of whom, by a single offense, can threaten the mayor's career. When a Senate staffer was arrested in Washington trying to buy heroin, the lawbreaker's boss, the senator who hired him, received sympathy calls. If the heroin-purchaser's employer had been a mayor, the calls would have been for the mayor's resignation.

For 16 years, White ran a big city. He recruited to public service hundreds of talented people, and then he motivated and monitored them. He made a few dumb moves and a lot more smart ones. He was accountable. He made a large, positive difference.

And when Kevin White died this week, 29 years after he left office, an entire city mourned and expressed its gratitude to this splendid leader who, because we prefer full-time presidential candidates who do not have day jobs with real responsibilities, was never once on the short list of White House possibilities. It makes no sense.

To find out more about Mark Shields and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

DISTRIBUTED BY CREATORS.COM

COPYRIGHT 2012 MARK SHIELDS



Comments

13 Comments | Post Comment
Sir;... Just two comments, please... The first is, that being Catholic is not all that much of a handicap for a Liberal Candidate, but is not even possible for a conservative candidate... People who look with suspicion at some one possibly taking orders from the Vatical will consider it perfectly natural for a candidate to be on very good terms with his pastor, and responsive to the whole of Evenagelical Christianity, and it is a double standard which has cost this country much in the way of effective leadership...
Second:... It is a social obscenity, and an indication of our demoralization that we can honor people with a vote who will act dishonorably in order to achieve power over us... Freedom is power in our own lives, and no one should desire more, and to take that power simply because it is possible to do so legally, is immoral and obscene... When we elect some one, what we should be doing is giving them a bit of our authority to act within limits in our names to do quickly what we could only do more slowly together...There would have been nothing wrong, for example, with Mr. Obama bringing the health care debate before the people, giving them the facts, letting them decide after all points of view are aired, and letting them accept the consequences... WE were never given the opportunity, and for that, Mr. Obama should be dismissed... But; his opposition would not have done better, or as much...
To give the people what you think they want, or what they need but cannot have without the support of government so that you can have what you want, or so your financial supporters, or class can have what they want- is not a people acting freely through their repesentatives to express their freedom socially... It is for that power, to give, or to withhold what the people need that candidates will dishonor themselves, and risk every just humiliation and insult...
I understand; that from your perspective, it is all simply grand theatre... It is anything but theatre to this people... There is no substitute for freedom, and for us to have no choice but to elect people who privately feel for the bottom in the depths of dishonor in order to convince others in power that they are not simply corroded, but completely corrupted, and so- worthy of trust and support is not freedom, nor is it the social expression of freedom... Power is a lure that should be denied to these people... If any can be caught on the bare hook of social obligation then, Bon Appetite... Their power should be no greater than our own, and their authority should be limited; and the moment anyone's power becomes so great as to entice bribery, then two ought to serve in place of one to flood the market, and lower the price of dishonor...Our government has corrnered the market on corruption, and corruption has become clearly legal, no matter how injust... It will wreck the government that badly needs reform, that needs a new form, and a new master...Now; no people no matter how slavish can delgate to others the power they need for their existence, and it is not for no reason that we concern ourselves with the virtues aimed at by our Constitution... We need liberty to survive... We need justice to survive.... We need unity to survive...And people do want for the virtues we can only defend through government... And increasingly, on right and left, people are denying to government the authority to act in their names... We have been divided so only a fraction at a time would have any expectation of the good of government, and some people live always without the hope that they and their concerns will be represented...In fact; neither side is getting what they want from government, and the excuse given by government is that the opposition prevents progress... Left and right are growing sick of impass that only excuses inaction, and they will sooner than later push the government off the dime it takes for a pedestal, and hopefully pushes it into hell...Thanks.... Sweeney
Comment: #1
Posted by: James A, Sweeney
Sat Feb 4, 2012 8:42 AM
I would like to know how I can Email Mark Shields directly
Comment: #2
Posted by: Morgan Margraf
Sat Feb 4, 2012 9:47 AM
Dear Mark:

Nice list of accomplishment by various church sects, particularly in combating prejudice and discrimination. I guess that's why the Catholic Church deserves a pass for this particular discrimination against women, in the name of religious liberty (please recall the atrocities that have been similarly justified). I understand your natural traditional Catholic male orientation but I think you can understand this simple, universal formulation: religious belief doesn't trump basic human rights and women have a basic human right to basic women's healthcare. Period.

Best regards,
Steve
(Catholic male)
Comment: #3
Posted by: Steve Shepherd
Tue Feb 7, 2012 7:52 PM
The Employees earn their medical care and thus the employee or a national standard of services provided should prevail. For some not all job's the inclusion of medical insurance is an offset of wages earned but would be taxed at a higher rate, so as a way of holding off the tax collector employees chose to take medical insurance rather than higher wages. Either way the cost would have been deducted as a business expense. So the right to define the services provided in an insurance policy should fall within the desires of the employee pool not the employer's belief dogma.
This is not mandating the Catholic Church Pay for Full Woman's Health Coverage, but to mandate Insurance Providers of all Employees provide Full Woman's Health Services as defined by law. The Employees are funding the purchase of the insurance, by their labor. The employee should have the choice to use the services or not.
Comment: #4
Posted by: A Woman
Tue Feb 7, 2012 10:54 PM
Mark I hve admired you for years. However I must disagree with your position on the contraceptive issue and the Catholic Church. There is adisconnect between the Church and it's institutions. The institutions many times forget their direction. My main example is the Sisters of Mercy. I believe that the only prayer they have is to pray for their forgivenes for their actions against the poor. The Catholic Hospital West was found to have charged patients without insurance at a rate of up to 20% more than those with insurance. They told the court that they could not afford to pay back the overcharges to those patients. They settled with the condition that they would provide hospital care free until the overcharge was used up. They destroyed many families. They caused bankruptcy, loss of homes, savings and other misfortunes. This from an organaization that is supposed to help the poor. I believe that a church should run their business as they wish. But, those ancillery businesses in the community should provide the same benifits as other like businesses. Oh, by the way, we cannot afford medical insurance for my wife. When she had a lung infection she needed a chest X-ray. We called Mercy hospital for the cost of just a X-ray. It was $480.00 plus the cost of the radioligist. At a local for profit radiology firm the total cost was $68.00. The Sisters really help the poor.....to get poorer.
Comment: #5
Posted by: George Perry
Wed Feb 8, 2012 12:58 PM
Mark I hve admired you for years. However I must disagree with your position on the contraceptive issue and the Catholic Church. There is adisconnect between the Church and it's institutions. The institutions many times forget their direction. My main example is the Sisters of Mercy. I believe that the only prayer they have is to pray for their forgivenes for their actions against the poor. The Catholic Hospital West was found to have charged patients without insurance at a rate of up to 20% more than those with insurance. They told the court that they could not afford to pay back the overcharges to those patients. They settled with the condition that they would provide hospital care free until the overcharge was used up. They destroyed many families. They caused bankruptcy, loss of homes, savings and other misfortunes. This from an organaization that is supposed to help the poor. I believe that a church should run their business as they wish. But, those ancillery businesses in the community should provide the same benifits as other like businesses. Oh, by the way, we cannot afford medical insurance for my wife. When she had a lung infection she needed a chest X-ray. We called Mercy hospital for the cost of just a X-ray. It was $480.00 plus the cost of the radioligist. At a local for profit radiology firm the total cost was $68.00. The Sisters really help the poor.....to get poorer.
Comment: #6
Posted by: George Perry
Wed Feb 8, 2012 12:58 PM
Mark, I've appreciate and admired you for a long time.
This disagreement won't change that but I think you are wrong both morally and politically in defending the Catholic position on denying complete health coverage to female employees in their non-profit enterprises.
First, the directors of these hospitals and universities earn upwards of a quarter million dollars a year. This ain't Mother Theresa, these are businesses.
Second, I directed a non profit and worked with the wonderful men & women of Catholic Charities for two decades, you don't need to sell their value to me, but, on the other hand, I'd have no trouble negotiating this with those great human beings. this is a dispute between purple robed prelates and other politicians.
Third and most important. You are defending a myth. This is not your Catholic Church. This is Ratiznger's Church the Church of Opus Dei and Rick Santorum. This is not your church; you don't speak for it and your liberal views are not welcome in it. They will condescend to let you be buried under it's cross but if you think you have ANY influence in it you're kidding yourself and your audience. Please, address that fact. Consult Matthew Fox if you need data. But if you are going to deal honoarably with the issue of the Catholic Church you need to face some facts.
Comment: #7
Posted by: Joey Tranchina
Wed Feb 8, 2012 2:17 PM
Dear Mr. Shields,
I have heard you speak multiple times over the past week regarding the federal mandate for all employers to provide access to the full range of preventive health care for women in the name of "religious freedom." I respect your political acumen, but here, your personal passions are obscuring the real issue, and your selective defenses of the mission of the Catholic Church are beneath your true abilities.
Where was the Catholic Church in the efforts to defeat domestic violence? Where was the Catholic Church when it came to advocating for Women's Rights? Suffrage? Gay and lesbian rights? Where was the Catholic Church when it came to clergy abuse of children?
As an institution and hierarchy, it lacks the moral authority of its humblest servants, the nuns and laity who make their charitable efforts work. Its power structure is also at odds with the beliefs and practices of actual parishioners. But the main point is that no institution is above or exempt from the law. The law allows all women, regardless of employer, to receive the full complement of preventive health services. It's a policy in place in six states with no exceptions, and another 22 with very limited exceptions. Caring for women and treating them with fairness and equality is the right thing to do.
I hope you can take the time to reflect on the centuries-old traditions of the church regarding the subjugation of women, and conclude that this, in fact, is the crisis of conscience. Thank you for your willingness to give space for discussion.
Kind regards,
Janet
Comment: #8
Posted by: Janet
Wed Feb 8, 2012 4:42 PM
Dear Mark -- I respect everything you have done... until now. I think you're wrong on the facts and wrong on the underlying issue. This is old news -- something settled more than 10 years ago under the Civil Rights Act. There can be no discrimination based on sex.
I also believe you're wrong on how many Catholics are against this provision of the law. The vast majority see this as more stunning cater-walling by the Bishops -- a tiny fraction of Catholics.
All the best
David Carlson, Catholic from Santa Rosa California where we have suffered mightily at the hands of our bishops.
Comment: #9
Posted by: David Carlson
Wed Feb 8, 2012 7:47 PM
Mark,
I come from the same tradition as you, BC High School, Georgetown. In the 50s. I studied briefly
for the priesthood. I have been married for 45 yrs with two children.
With regard to the so called contraception controversy, I understand your position BUT I think
you are wrong. AND Church or not, if the election is determined on contraception, Obama would
win in a landslide. Remember what JFK said about Church hierarchy? As a liberal, I say bring it on!!!
Comment: #10
Posted by: Bill Hart
Wed Feb 8, 2012 8:27 PM
Mark,
I come from the same tradition as you, BC High School, Georgetown. In the 50s. I studied briefly
for the priesthood. I have been married for 45 yrs with two children.
With regard to the so called contraception controversy, I understand your position BUT I think
you are wrong. AND Church or not, if the election is determined on contraception, Obama would
win in a landslide. Remember what JFK said about Church hierarchy? As a liberal, I say bring it on!!!
Comment: #11
Posted by: Bill Hart
Wed Feb 8, 2012 8:27 PM
As a catholic, I am extremely disappointed by the noncompromising attitude of our Catholic bishops who appear to have jumped on this issue of contraception in an obvious attempt to politicize it. Sadly missing is their concern for the untenable position In which they have put women who must choose between religion and their own personal health. It is they, as well as, the evangelicals who are attempting to obliterate the separation of church and state, not this administration.

Comment: #12
Posted by: Joan Housman
Wed Feb 8, 2012 8:39 PM
Mark.
I've enjoyed your comentary for a long,long time, but on the issue of contraception coverage you are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. Obviously you have a penis. Obama will go all the way to the bank on this!! Please, tell what part of YOUR health care choices woould you cede to the "concience of the Church". I paid for my own contraceptive choices all my life because it wasn't "covered". I could afford to, but many women can't. We actually got the vote and we vote more than men, even if we still get paid 77% of the wages of men. We've come a long way baby AND WE NOT GOING BACK. OUR BODIES ARE NOT UP FOR DISCUSSION!
Take it from an old Catholic women, you got no utuerus your opinion is just another one of those things everyone has one of, just ask the Kolman Foundation.
Comment: #13
Posted by: An old Catholic hussy
Thu Feb 9, 2012 1:52 AM
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