Eugene McCarthy was a poet and politician whose resolute stand against the Vietnam War toppled a president and inspired a generation of liberal idealists... He'll be remembered most vividly, however, for his place in a single tumultuous year, 1968, the year of his remarkable challenge to President Lyndon Johnson's pursuit of the Vietnam War.
The war and the suffering it produced were "morally indefensible," McCarthy told his youthful audiences as he traveled the country to prepare for his run against Johnson in the presidential primaries. "Party unity is not a sufficient excuse for silence," he told them.
Inspired by McCarthy's audacity and intellect, thousands of "clean for Gene" college students descended on New Hampshire, site of the first primary. The senator's close second-place finish was widely interpreted as a stunning defeat for Johnson, who, after pondering the damage and the mounting opposition to his policies, shocked the nation by pulling out of the race. [Is Murtha Iraq's McCarthy? Will America answer the call for this war?]
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