In today’s political climate, it makes sense to revisit Hunter S. Thompson…

Between the vicious Republican primary going on in the states and our Canadian government involved in some nasty spying and dirty tricks that have Bob Rae using Nixon as an adjective, it’s almost like we’ve been transported back to the 70’s.  What better time than to dig out my Hunter S. Thompson anthology, The Great Shark Hunt, which includes excerpts from Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 as well as the Rolling Stone articles Fear and Loathing at the Watergate, Fear and Loathing in Washington and Fear and Loathing in Limbo, the latter three dealing with Watergate and its aftermath.

I bought this book for seven bucks at Powell’s Books in Portland about a year and a half ago, and I had put it down somewhere halfway through the Campaign Trail, not seeing much interest in reading about the 1972 Democratic primary at the time.  That’s all changed in an election year, although it’s the Republicans, not the Dems who are having their primary this time around.  In Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72, Thompson hitches his horses to George McGovern, a seemingly long-shot candidate from South Dakota who went on to win the Democratic nomination before being thoroughly trounced by Nixon in a 520 to 17 Electoral College blowout.  I think that the last line in the section about his primary campaign on Wikipedia sums it up nicely: “But in the end, McGovern succeeded in winning the nomination by winning primaries through grassroots support in spite of establishment opposition.”

Could Rick Santorum be the George McGovern of 2012?  The conservative Catholic candidate has seemingly come out of nowhere to pose a serious challenge to the front-running “establishment opposition” of Mitt Romney.  However, it should be noted that McGovern’s platform draws more parallels to Romney’s.  While the latter is often accused of being a “Massachusetts moderate,” opponents tried to paint McGovern as a radical in favour of Acid, Amnesty and Abortion.  Did I mention that there was a strong “Anyone But McGovern” movement back in the day, much like we’re seeing with Romney now?

While there are parallels between the losing candidate of the ’72 election and the two leading candidates in the Republican primary, I think that the GOP only stands to get trounced by the incumbent if Santorum gets the nomination.  I feel that he’s just too right-wing to appeal to anyone but hard-line, religious Republicans, and I can’t see too many independent voters flocking to him.  Personally, I could see myself maybe voting for Romney, but definitely not Santorum.  Then again, I don’t get a say either way.  After all, I’m Canadian. ;)

Speaking of Canadian politics, I started reading Thompson’s Watergate-era articles right around the time that Bob Rae invoked Stephen Harper’s “Nixonian Culture” in relation to the robocalling scandal.  I gotta say that the language Thompson frequently uses to describe Nixon would make NDP attack dog Pat Martin blush, and I’m surprised he didn’t get sued for libel.  Then again, Nixon was almost certainly guilty, although he was pardoned of any wrongdoing by his successor, Gerald Ford.  Truth might be a defence for libel in the States, but that’s not the case in Canada, as Pat Martin might be about to find out.  I guess he’ll just hafta wait for Prime Minister Thomas Mulcair to pardon him…

LOL, I couldn’t even say that with a straight face.  But something tells me that Harper won’t get his Watergate moment either.  That is, not unless Michael Soma knows more than he’s letting on

Dayumn.  Where’s Dr. Thompson when you need him?

About these ads