Thursday, August 2, 2012

Hubert Humphrey: The Happy Failure

On August 4, 2012, in quintessential Minnesota fashion, a statue to Hubert Humphrey will be unveiled at the Minnesota State Capitol. No measured reflection on his failed legacy has appeared to date in local media. To the contrary, puff pieces on the Institute for Mediocrities, also known as the Humphrey Institute, have popped up in local and national press. How unsurprising.

Let's review this failed life which will shortly be honored for all the wrong reasons by the unctuous perjurer Bill Clinton and numerous lesser lights, which makes for dim viewing indeed.

First, the one, unqualified moment of excellence in Humphrey's life came rather early, in 1948 when as Mayor of Minneapolis he bravely spoke before the Democratic convention and addressed segregation and anti-semitism. Fine and well but hardly substantial and long lasting enough in and of itself to warrant a statue and the resulting adulation. One should keep in mind, though, the penchant of the Left to lie to itself (current presidential polls come to mind but the examples are legion).

Humphrey then went on to burnish his liberal credentials in the 50's only to sell out to Lyndon Johnson by becoming his vice-president. The arc of this failure and eclipse is set out succinctly in "Remembering Hubert Humphrey" at The Heath Post. It can be read in full here.

What is lost in this feel good nonsense is that liberals of the day turned on Humphrey. This inconvenient fact will be ignored by the oleaginous politicians who gather two days hence and pretend to be the successors of HHH. MC is certain they fail to understand how this damns them. But look for reflexively positive media coverage of the event; to write anything else would take courage.

Having hollowed himself out on matters of core principle, Humphrey's slide into disgrace was complete after his loss to Richard Nixon. As the Heath Post notes, he left no great speeches, no great written works. Liberals will have no body of thought that will sustain the legacy of Humphrey except for their own self-serving need to promote dependency on government and redistributionist policies that have failed everywhere. But that's all they've got so they will go with it, confident in their belief that the media will advance the chosen liberal narrative.

What won't be covered is that Humphrey's contemporary was Ronald Reagan (damn it) who like chuckles was born in 1911. If Reagan had died in 1978, as Humphrey did, the Heath Post notes tartly, conservatives would be quoting and referencing him for several generations, so great was his written body of work by that time.

Hubert? Nothing of the kind. There is liberalism and its inheritance. Actually, one can legitimately see Humphrey as the compromised hand maiden to big government, social engineering and failed public policies which still plague America and which those gathering before this cheesy statue seek to bolster.

The local repository of Kim Jong Il-ism of the Humphrey variety is, of course, the Humphrey Institute ensconced in the increasingly mediocre University of Minnesota. One would be hard pressed to think of a leader that that institute has produced. Instead, those wishing for perches on the upper branches of state bureaucracy flock to its programs. Haven't you always wanted to be senior management at MN DOT?

The Humphrey Institute offers a veritable progressive dim sum of choices, however, from which to choose. One can get a degree in Civic Engagement (whatever that is), Community Building & Neighborhood Revitalization (the jokes write themselves), Energy Policy (environmental wackos form the borg here), Politics & Governance (think Nanny Bloomberg; we know better than you rubes), Race & Social Justice (the laziest minds will be found here), and State & Local Government (in which the Institute becomes the feeder of choice to the parasitic state bureaucracy where the only diversity that is lacking is that of thought).

The Humphrey Institute is to political leadership what the Iowa Writers' Workshop is to good writing: superfluous if not outright damaging. Don't look for it to fade, though. The statue dedication is liberalism's way of telling itself it still matters, has not failed spectacularly by any objective metric and is not destined for a comprehensive rebuke November 6th.

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