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Useful Notes / Hubert Humphrey

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"To those who say we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say: we are already one hundred and seventy-two years late!"
Hubert Humphrey, speaking at the 1948 Democratic National Convention.

Hubert Horatio Humphrey Jr. (May 27, 1911 – January 13, 1978) served under President Lyndon Johnson as the 38th Vice President of the United States (1965-69). Humphrey twice served as a United States Senator from Minnesota, and served as Democratic Majority Whip. He was a founder of the Minnesota Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party and Americans for Democratic Action. He also served as Mayor of Minneapolis, Minnesota (1945-49). Humphrey was the nominee of the Democratic Party in the 1968 presidential election but lost to the Republican nominee, Richard Nixon. After his loss, Humphrey would return to the Senate where he spent the rest of his life. He died during his term, suffering from incurable bladder cancer.

Humphrey was well known in his career for being extremely talkative as well as for his early support for civil rights legislation. His image, like Johnson's, suffered incredibly during the Vietnam War, but would later recover sufficiently during his lifetime and afterwards.

These tropes related to Humphrey's appereances in media are pleased as punch to be here:

  • Catchphrase: Quite a mileage was taken in the media from Humphrey's "I'm pleased as punch!" phrase.
  • Egopolis: Humorously so in Minnesota. You can hardly go anywhere without seeing something named for Humphrey, including an NFL stadium!
  • Minnesota Nice: He is always portrayed as a laid-back and nice man. He was a genuinely friendly man, even with opponents such as Barry Goldwater. Very few people disliked Humphrey on a personal level after meeting him because he was simply very nice. In "Chisholm '72: Unbought and Unbossed", Shirley Chisolm specifically uses the word nice to describe him (and contrasts his treatment of her, one of his opponents for the 1972 Democratic Presidential Nomination and a black woman, with the poor treatment she got from the other candidates). He was nicknamed "The Happy Warrior."
  • Sensitive Guy and Manly Man: When portrayals of him tackle his relationship with President Johnson, he's paired as the sensitive guy to Johnson's manly man. Johnson was a boisterous, domineering loudmouth who enjoyed hunting and speeding along his ranch in a pickup truck. Humphrey was a gabby, yet sensitive man who was prone to tearing up. He also let Johnson dominate him during the extent of their working relationship. Johnson once took Humphrey hunting and told him to shoot a deer. Humphrey nearly broke down in tears over it. LBJ didn't give it a second thought.
  • Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: Oh so much. Humphrey was once clocked at speaking close to 200 words per minute. Barry Goldwater, his political opponent, personal friend and predecessor as second-place finisher in the presidential election (to LBJ with Humphrey as the VP candidate), once said that he thought Humphrey had been vaccinated with a phonograph needle.

Hubert in fiction

  • Well, it isn't fiction, but the 1960 Democratic Wisconsin presidential primary between Hubert and John F. Kennedy is filmed in the documentary Primary.
  • Tom Lehrer serenaded the man with the track "Whatever Became of Hubert?" on his 1965 album That Was the Year That Was.
  • Raoul Duke brings him up in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas...though he's in the midst of a Freak Out when he does:
    Duke: You people voted for Hubert Humphrey! And you killed Jesus!
  • He's a character in the play All the Way, focusing on Johnson's efforts to pass the Civil Rights Act. Humphrey is played by Bradley Whitford in the HBO adaptation. He is portrayed very sympathetically.
  • Humphrey makes a brief cameo as himself (along with fellow Presidential aspirant George McGovern and Los Angeles Mayor Sam Yorty) in The Candidate.
  • Several chapters of Nathan Hill's novel The Nix take place from Humphrey's point-of-view as he watches the 1968 Democratic National Convention descend into chaos.
  • Timeline-191: After the End: Hubert Humphrey becomes President in 1961 and becomes the first, and only, President to serve three elected terms as he leads the U.S. through the Fourth Pacific War.