We were a thumb nation. The year turned rapidly down toward dust. The campaign was like a restless nap in a hot room. Humphrey seemed to know that Chicago had doomed him. "My wife and I went home heartbroken, battered, and beaten," he said. "I felt just like we had been in a shipwreck." But gutsy Hubert bounced back into what seemed at first the absurdly inappropriate "Politics of Joy." Tricky Dicky's cohorts, picking up on this, put out a TV spot showing secnes of riot and war and an uncontrollably laughing Humphrey.
The electorate should have sensed the whole of Nixon in that glimpse, but no one seemed able to work up a real care.
The Movements of protest, once Movements of idealism and hope, were now hellbent toard self-destructive violence. The only flicker of the black "revolution" in that autumn came when Tommie Smith and John Carlos gave black power salutes as they received their gold and bronze medals for the 200-meter race at the Olympics in Mexico; the Black Panthers groped disastrously toward bluster and gunfire. SDS, at a National Council meeting at Boulder, Colo., split into numerous atoms, such as the heavy-larynxed worker-student Progressive Labor faction, and the Weathermen, who were soon to take their explosives underground into oblivion.
At the Miss America contest in Atlantic City, women burned bras in a barrel. The only Movement that seemed to stay alive, at least for a few years after the horrors of 1968, was Women's Liberation. Maybe there was a reason tucked into the year. Not one woman's name figured in any of the great shocks of 1968. Maybe this led to a dim perception: Men weren't doing very well.
Humphrey's spunk, at least, was attractive, and in the last weeks of the campaign, but just too late, he made a race of it. on November 5, Richard Nixon squeaked in and announced that he would give Serious Duties, and a nice big office in the White House, to Spiro Agnew.
The U.S. has dropped more bombs on Vietnam than it dropped in all of World War II . . . . Yellow Submarine . . .The Heisman Trophy goes to a U.C.L.A. halfback named O.J. Simpson . . . . Heidi, for the kiddies, breaks into the last two minutes of a football game during which the Raiders, unseen by millions, score two touchdowns; telephone calls literally blow out the fuses at CBS. . . . Johnson's Thanksgiving Proclamation: "Americans, looking back on the tumultuous events of 1968, may be more inclined to ask God's mercy and guidance than to offer Him thanks for His blessings ." . . . Time magazine: "There is a vague anxiety that the machine of the 20th century is beginning to run out of control." . . . A man with a toy pistol hijacks a plane to Havana . . . .
In the last month of the year America seemed to shake itself like an animal coming up onto the shore out of cold water. There was a glimmer of hope for an end to the Vietnam nightmare. Johnson had stopped the bombings of the north. In Paris the great question was: What shape of table - a diamond, a square, a circle with two bumps on it - would accommodate both the South Vietnamese contention that the talks would be bilateral and the North Vietnamese view that there were four parties? The release, at last, of the Pueblo crew gave them a chance to attribute a national humiliation to brainwashing; that seemed a comfort. And when, on Christmas Day, three Americans, riding Apollo 8 into realms of galactic music, saw the far side of the moon, and it seemed that we were getting ahead for once, the country breathed a sigh. . . .
Arab terrorists destroy an Israeli plane at Athens: Israelis swarm on Beirut and ruin 13 planes. . . . The Chinese fire off another nuclear test. . . . The Soviets, getting back ahead, test the world's first supersonic passenger plane. . . . Another New Year's Day; another hangover . . .