Friday, October 30, 2015


  Kefauver was a Tennessee Democratic Congressman from 1939 until 1949. He was a Senator from 1949 until his death from a heart attack in 1963. Kefauver came to national prominence by leading the first televised congressional investigation of organized crime in the early 1950's. He was a progressive at a time when Southern Senators were segregationist. Was also one of the few Southern senators who refused to sign the segregationist Southern Manifesto in 1956. His progressive stances on the issues put Kefauver in direct competition with E. H. Crump, the former U.S. congressman, mayor of Memphis and boss of the state's Democratic Party, when he chose to seek the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate in 1948. During the primary, Crump and his allies accused Kefauver of being a "fellow traveler," and of working for the "pinkos and communists," with the stealth of a raccoon. In a televised speech given in Memphis, in which he responded to such charges, Kefauver put on a coonskin cap and proudly proclaimed, "I may be a pet coon, but I'm not Boss Crump's pet coon." Kefauver ran for president in 1952 and 1956 but settled for the Vice Presidential spot on the Adlai Stevenson ticket in 1956. They were defeated soundly by Eisenhower in the general election. Kefauver had alienated himself from Northern and Southern political leaders for two reasons. In his Kefauver hearings on organized crime he shined light on the close connection of organized crime and big city politics in Northern cities. In the South he was hated for his stance on civil rights. Lyndon Johnson planned on running for president in 1960. He considered Kefauver to be his main obstacle to the presidency because he expected him to run again. He knew about Kefauvers political vulnerabilities and figured that he could easily beat him. Johnson underestimated the young Senator from Massachusetts named John Kennedy however. He didn't even see him on the radar early on. I thought about Kennedy last night during the debate when Rubio was being accused of missing time as a senator. Nobody was lazier and more irresponsible as a congressman and senator than John Kennedy in the years before his election as president in 1960. However he made a pretty fair president. I remember Estes Kefauver and I was 13 when he died. Kefauver was the kind of liberal that you could agree with many times on the issues. He loved his country and was a man of integrity. Unlike the modern day liberal of the Democratic Party.

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