October 21, 2012 | 8:53pm
The guy who Richard Nixon cheated out of the presidency is gone.
George McGovern died Sunday at age 90. His loss in 1972 was the first presidential race I remember,. He was gonna get us out of Vietnam. He was gonna remake America.
He wasn't Richard Nixon.
I grew up in Minnesota, next door to McGovern's South Dakota and -- back then-- the backbone of America's liberal enterprise. It birthed Hubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy -- two other losing presidential candidates who had their hearts and their ethics in the right place -- unlike Nixon.
Sure McGovern showed bad judgement in choosing Tm Eagletoh as his first VP choice, and then worse judgement in not standing behind his choice.
But he was a deeply intellectual and thoughtful man who was nominated for president in Miami Beach in 1972.
It was an extraordinarily contentious convention -- the most contentious in decades and I remember listening to the radio until early the next day as the California vote came in for McGovern.
Our guy had won.
In the years since that loss, one of the worst in American history, I met McGovern several times, once in Providence, Rhode Island and once in Berkeley. He was a decent guy. Too decent to earn the presidency, it turns out.
But he could have saved America from the trauma that was Watergate. America just made the wrong choice that year.
Let's hope we make the right choice next month.