Off the Rails: Mad Men and American Liberalism in 1968
While the two-hour sixth season debut of Mad Men earlier this month played oddly coy about which year the series was set in, we now know that we’re witnessing Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce versus 1968.
Or perhaps it’s the other way around, given how the year of 1968 came close to tearing the country apart. In many ways, the events of that year shaped our current world in ways that are still playing themselves out, so it’s worth exploring just how badly the nation imploded. Apologies for the length of this post, but it's merely a partial list of 1968's horror stories.
Vietnam and the Cognitive Dissonance of the Liberal Elite
In the 1950s and 1960s, German émigrés such as Mies van der Rohe and Walter Gropius, the former leaders of the socialist Bauhaus school of design of the 1920s Weimar Republic ,were busy building skyscrapers to house America’s corporate elites. To this day, Mies’ Seagram Building and Gropius’ Pan Am Building are lasting tributes to Weimar aesthetics on Park Ave. So perhaps it’s no wonder that American liberal elites were themselves embracing a Weimar-esque sense of dissipation and fatalism. JFK’s optimistic New Frontier worldview was supplanted by a collective malaise by depressed American elites by the late 1960s.
The cognitive dissonance of liberals not being able to process that JFK was the world’s most prominent victim of the Cold War was one cause of this malaise. Another was the ambition of LBJ’s Great Society, which had attempted to build on Kennedy’s space program and his nascent efforts at fighting communism in Vietnam with a series of Texas-sized domestic programs. LBJ’s goal was to recreate FDR’s New Deal, and as Rand Simberg has written, Johnson embraced NASA’s moon missions as an extension of FDR’s TVA program. But LBJ’s Texas drawl could never replace JFK’s polished Brahmin accent and style in the eyes of American liberal elites, who would come to turn on Johnson, devouring him for his outsized sense of ambition, and his patriotism.
As Patrick Moynihan had said in the early 1970s, “Most liberals had ended the 1960s rather ashamed of the beliefs they had held at the beginning of the decade.” But it's worth flashing back to the end of the 1950s just to see how dramatic the transformation was. As I mentioned when I interviewed David Gelernter last year, chapter one of his 2012 book America-Lite: How Imperial Academia Dismantled Our Culture (and Ushered In the Obamacrats) opens with a remarkable quote from William DeVane, the dean of Yale, in 1957:
Our national leaders for the most part are men of integrity, idealism, and skill; our literary and artistic people command an international respect such as they never had before; our scientists and engineers, especially the latter, are the wonder and envy of other nations; our teachers in our colleges and universities are learned and devoted.
By 1968, liberal elites in academia and the media were simply incapable of allowing such a sentence to pass from their lips, and their worldview would become ever more punitive in the years since: Former JFK/LBJ official turned public TV staple Bill Moyers recently denounced the Pledge of Allegiance on PBS:
Veteran journalist Bill Moyers told his viewers on March 29 that the next time they say the Pledge of Allegiance, they should “remember: it’s a lie. A whopper of a lie.” Bill Moyers’s “Moyers & Company,” which included the snippet, airs on taxpayer funded PBS.
“We coax it from the mouths of babes for the same reason our politicians wear those flag pins in their lapels – it makes the hypocrisy go down easier, the way aspirin helps a headache go away.”
It’s a cliché to write that the well was poisoned by Vietnam; as Gelernter wrote in America-Lite, the sixties peace movement preceded the escalation of our involvement there. Early in America-Lite, Gelernter contrasts that 1957 quote from Yale’s William DeVane with mid-1970s quotes from liberal essayist E.B. White. “No one knows which way to turn and which way to go,” White believed in 1975. The following year, he would add, “Patriotism is unfashionable, having picked up the taint of chauvinism, jingoism, and demagoguery. A man is not expected to love his country, lest he make an ass of himself.” Almost 40 years later, Bill Moyers would take that sentiment to its punitive conclusion. In America-Lite, Gelernter notes:
The conventional view is that the civil rights movement and Vietnam and feminism are what changed the country. But the antiwar movement and modern feminism were consequences of the revolution. The civil rights movement sustained and expanded the revolution. For the thing itself, we have to look elsewhere.
* * * * *
Today, when Americans praise their own nation, they do it defiantly; that unselfconscious patriotic pleasure is gone. What caused the American mood to crumble between William DeVane’s statement and E. B. White’s? The civil rights struggle couldn’t be the answer; for one thing, it united rather than divided the country, except for the segregationist Old South. Maybe the bitter split over the war in Vietnam explains it. But that can’t be right; can’t be the whole truth. Antiwar protests were powered by the New Left and “the Movement,” which originated in Tom Hayden’s “Port Huron Statement” of 1962, before the nation had ever heard of Vietnam. And the New Left picked up speed at Berkeley in the Free Speech Movement of 1964 and early ’65, before the explosion of Vietnam. Bitterness toward America was an evil spirit shopping for a body when Vietnam started to throb during 1965.
1965 is when the sea change occurred in the writing of David Halberstam of the New York Times on the subject of Vietnam, which would set the tone for much of the rest of the MSM. As Roger Kimball wrote in the New Criterion after Halberstam died in 2007, Halberstam spent the first half of the 1960s, particularly while JFK was still alive, championing the importance of Vietnam as, in the words of Halberstam, “a strategic country in a key area, it is perhaps one of only five or six nations in the world that is truly vital to U.S. interests.” By 1968, he and much of the rest of the American news media would turn against the war.
Lyndon Johnson apparently never heard Walter Cronkite of CBS tell his millions of viewers in February of 1968 that he thought Vietnam unwinnable. Johnson’s reelection bid was instead torpedoed by an even more unlikely source: fellow Democrat Eugene McCarthy, in a moment that would have long echoing repercussions for American liberalism. As Mark Steyn wrote in his obituary for McCarthy in the March 2006 Atlantic, “If you strike at the king, you have to kill him. And, amazingly, Eugene McCarthy did:”
On March 12, 1968, the not exactly barnstorming senator got 42.4 percent of Democratic votes in the New Hampshire primary and denied the sitting president even a majority of his own party’s supporters: Lyndon Johnson secured just 49.5 percent. Within three weeks, he was gone: the president announced he would not seek re-election and effectively ended his political career. The king was dead, long live … well, not Senator McCarthy: the man who plunged the dagger in did not take the crown. But his few short weeks of stumping the Granite State changed his party, with consequences it lives with to this day. The LBJ diehards who dismissed him as a mere “footnote in history” failed to understand how much damage one footnote can do when he doesn’t mind whose toes he steps on and all the bigfeet turn out to have feet of clay. Thus, the paradox of Gene McCarthy: the revered liberal icon who destroyed the last successful liberal presidency. His act of insouciant regicide was the defining moment in the Democrats’ modern history.
Foreshadowing the presidential bid of George McGovern four years later, the otherwise milquetoast appearing McCarthy built up an odd assortment of ‘60s radicals supporting his pyrrhic campaign: Emmett Tyrrell of the American Spectator coined the phrase “coat and tie radicals” to describe those who professed to “get clean for Gene.”
They were “leftists of various degrees, though years ago they lost sight of Marx or for that matter of any other systematic thinker on the left. In their twenties they went into politics, social work, the media, and the corporate world. They donned bourgeois attire when appropriate, or when advantageous they affected leftist fashions. That is why, since college days, we on the right have called them Coat and Tie Radicals,” Tyrrell wrote in early 2007, just as Hillary Clinton – herself a supporter of Eugene McCarthy – was about tee off against an even more radical and much more dynamic opponent, Barack Obama.
Of course, while campus radicals were donning coat and ties in 1968 to tone down their appearance, many American elites were discarding these venerable symbols of traditional style. In the current season of Mad Men, while Don Draper still, at least in the office, thankfully clings to his fedora and Brooks Brothers suit and tie, anyone who’s followed the show from its debut has seen the dramatic transformation of its interpretations of the era’s fashions and hair styles, which has accelerated in the new season. It is 1968, after all. (Note Sammy’s roach clip at the 1:50 mark, by the way):
Bobby Kennedy Embraces Liberal Fascism
Robert Kennedy would be assassinated on June 5th of 1968, by Sirhan Sirhan, a 24 year old Palestinian, making RFK arguably one of the first high-profile American deaths caused by an ever-more radicalized Islamic world. Or as Ann Coulter wrote in 2002, Sirhan was the first “to bring the classic religion-of-peace protest to American shores, when, in support of the Palestinians, he assassinated Robert Kennedy.”
But before his tragic demise, RFK himself would utter increasingly radicalized rhetoric. In March of 1968, Bobby Kennedy told those assembled at Kansas State University:
As Kennedy began, his voice cracked, and those near the stage noticed his hands trembling and his right leg shaking. After praising [Al] Landon’s distinguished career, he said, “I am also glad to come to the home state of another great Kansan, who wrote, ‘If our colleges and universities do not breed men who riot, who rebel, who attack life with all their youthful vision and vigor then there is something wrong with our colleges. The more riots that come on college campuses, the better the world for tomorrow.’ ” …
At first he seemed tentative and wooden, stammering and repeating himself, too nervous to punctuate his sentences with gestures. But with each round of applause he became more animated. Soon he was pounding the lectern with his right fist, and shouting out his words.
Rene Carpenter watched the students in the front rows. Their faces shone, and they opened their mouths in unison, shouting, “Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!”
Hays Gorey, of Time, called the electricity between Kennedy and the K.S.U. students “real and rare” and said that ” .. John Kennedy … himself couldn’t be so passionate, and couldn’t set off such sparks.”
Kevin Rochat was close to weeping because Kennedy was so direct and honest. He kept telling himself, My God! He’s saying exactly what I’ve been thinking! ..
Kennedy concluded by saying, “Our country is in danger: not just from foreign enemies; but above all, from our own misguided policies–and what they can do to the nation that Thomas Jefferson once said was the last, great hope of mankind. There is a contest on, not for the rule of America but for the heart of America. In these next eight months we are going to decide what this country will stand for–and what kind of men we are.”
He raised his fist in the air so it resembled the revolutionary symbol on posters hanging in student rooms that year, promised “a new America,” and the hall erupted in cheers and thunderous applause.
In between calling for more riots on college campuses, Bobby was also rejecting the technological optimism of his late brother’s New Frontier of the early 1960s:
The endless doomsday rhetoric of the 1970s, including calls for “Zero Population Growth” and “Limits to Growth” and Jimmy Carter’s 1979 “malaise” speech, which defined the exhaustion of postwar liberalism, was starting right here.
The Wreck of the Penn Central
While liberal intellectuals were going off the rails, the business world wasn’t immune, either. In February of 1968, the Pennsylvania Railroad and New York Central Railroad, long arch-rivals, would merge in a shotgun marriage caused as much by over-regulation and the inability to cut unprofitable routes as by anything else. The following year, Penn Central would incorporate the New Haven Railroad into their conglomeration. Then the whole thing would go spectacularly bankrupt in the summer of 1970, causing years of misery for east coast businesses and commuters.
The Penn Central bankruptcy would spur Congress into creating Amtrak in 1971, which effectively nationalized America’s passenger trains. Far from being the staunch laissez-faire capitalists of Ayn Rand’s vision, with only few exceptions America’s railroad executives were thrilled to offload their long-distance passenger business onto the federal government; it had been a loss-leader for the railroads ever since the American highway system and jet passenger planes became predominant by the end of the 1950s.
In 1976, Congress would merge the Penn Central and five other smaller but equally bankrupt northeast railroad lines into the Consolidated Rail Corporation or Conrail for short, another corporatist railroad venture. It was only at the insistence of the Reagan administration that Conrail was eventually privatized in the 1980s, one of the very few examples of a government-created venture finally concluding.
The Penn Central Railroad was notorious among railroad fans for eliminating the handsome aesthetics of the railroads it had assimilated. The PRR and the NYC and the New Haven all had attractive paint schemes in their heyday; they were replaced by this grim modernist monstrosity.
It wouldn’t help that as the railroad went into bankruptcy, washing equipment went by the wayside; grimy black PC locomotives were staples of small communities throughout the northeast.
But the Pennsylvania Railroad had itself already begun to cast off pre-modernist aesthetics, when it leveled its original magnificent Penn Station in New York, in 1963, five years before the merger. (Which itself was a Mad Men subplot a few seasons back.) And corporations throughout America in the late 1960s were replacing their charming postwar style with a bland modernist conformity, inspired by the European Bauhaus aesthetics of the 1920s:
The Police Are Here To Preserve Disorder
On April 4th of 1968, Martin Luther King was assassinated at 39, an astonishingly young age, given how much had accomplished in his lifetime. But by the time of his death, he too was drifting further to the radical left; in a 1967 speech he proclaimed, “the promises of the Great Society have been shot down on the battlefield of Vietnam,” when in reality, they were two sides of the same coin; LBJ was the ultimate “guns and butter” leader. The previous year, King was quoted as telling his staff:
You can't talk about solving the economic problem of the Negro without talking about billions of dollars. You can't talk about ending the slums without first saying profit must be taken out of slums. You're really tampering and getting on dangerous ground because you are messing with folk then. You are messing with captains of industry. Now this means that we are treading in difficult water, because it really means that we are saying that something is wrong with capitalism. There must be a better distribution of wealth and maybe America must move toward a democratic socialism.
The violent deaths of King and Bobby Kennedy were compounded by further violence at the infamous Democratic Convention in Chicago, in which the aging New Dealers were confronted by their radical successors. As author Daniel J. Flynn wrote in August of 2008 in City Journal:
Forty years ago this week, radical activists descended on Chicago to protest the Democratic National Convention. In the ensuing chaos, hospitals treated 192 policemen, more than 650 people were arrested, and one demonstrator was killed. This week, a group calling itself “Recreate 68” has converged on Denver to protest the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Its name to the contrary, Recreate 68’s organizers insist that they aren’t paying homage to the ’68 protestors. Not that they believe that the protestors did anything wrong: echoing the words of the federal government’s Walker Report, Recreate 68 contends that “what happened in Chicago in 1968 was not a violent protest, but rather a ‘police riot.’”
Numerous histories from participant-memoirists unsurprisingly second the “police riot” verdict. Cathy Wilkerson, whose cadre unleashed stink bombs and phoned bomb threats to local hotels, notes in her recent memoir that the “rampant brutality” of Chicago mayor Richard J. Daley “was exposed for all the world to see.” For Tom Hayden, the coordinator of the Chicago protests who was arrested for deflating a police car’s tire, “rioting police” exhibited “brutal behavior” and “mindless sadism.” Bill Ayers, who brags of pelting Chicago cops with marbles fired from a slingshot, decries the “violent police assaults” and police “rioting.” But far from political innocents clubbed into reality by sadistic policemen, the activists who squared off with cops were generally movement veterans who went to Chicago looking for a fight. As Jeff Jones and Mike Spiegel of New Left Notes wrote six months before the convention, “to envision non-violent demonstrations at the Convention is to indulge in pleasant fantasying.” By 1968, the movement had moved from mere protest to open confrontation. Leaving for Chicago, Terry Robbins—who, 18 months later, would blow himself up while constructing a bomb intended for a soldiers’ dance—told comrades: “Let’s go kick some ass.”
Mayor Daley became so flustered at the violence that had descended upon his city, he uttered his now legendary malapropism, “The confrontation was not caused by the police. The confrontation was caused by those who charged the police. Gentlemen, let's get this thing straight, once and for all. The policeman is not here to create disorder. The policeman is here to preserve disorder.”
But then, Chicago-style disorder would seep through much of America, as the New Left increasingly began to control the levers of power. (See also: President Barack Obama, and his former and current secretaries of state, Hillary Clinton and John F. Kerry.)
Or as Ben Wattenberg memorably quipped four years later, when he was a delegate to the 1972 Democratic presidential convention, “There won’t be any riots in Miami because the people who rioted in Chicago are on the Platform Committee.”
Nixon: Now More Than Ever
With all of this in the air in 1968, is it any wonder that the American people responded to Richard Nixon’s presidential campaign, his themes of law and order and the promise of a return to the era of President Eisenhower? Of course, to get elected, Nixon would have to first master the medium that had vanquished him to political Siberia eight years earlier: television. He relied upon an unlikely source, who would transform first his presidential campaign, and then both politics and television news: Roger Ailes, then toiling away as young producer for the syndicated Mike Douglas daytime talk show, broadcast out of Philadelphia. In his 1993 biography of Rush Limbaugh, journalist Paul D. Colford described the chance meeting between Nixon and Ailes:
The affable Douglas would have Edward Teller and dancing bears on the same show, the common denominator being that both the renowned physicist and the circus act happened to be in Philadelphia at the same time. As Ailes himself told the story in a 1992 interview, “One day, my associate ran in and said, ‘We have Richard Nixon, the former vice president, coming in the front door and we have Little Egypt the belly dancer with a snake in the greenroom. What do we do?’ And I said, ‘Put one of them in my office.’ And I forgot about it, and went to rehearsal, and when I came back upstairs, there was Richard Nixon sitting in my office.
“I always said, had they put Little Egypt in there, I’d have an entirely different career, and perhaps a lot more fun.”
“It is also very possible that if Hubert Humphrey had turned up in the Douglas greenroom instead of Nixon, Ailes would have ended up working on the Democratic campaign in 1968. Ailes was far less political in those days than he was professionally ambitious,” Zev Chafets wrote in his new biography of Ailes. As Chafets told me in March when I interviewed him on the new book:
Nixon, who famously lost the ’60 — 1960 race, partly because of his poor performance in the debates, said to Ailes, it’s a shame that you can’t win an election without a gimmick like TV.
And Ailes said, if you think TV is a gimmick, you’re never going to win an election again. At that time, Roger was in his mid-twenties, and it made a big impression on Nixon, who hired him to be his television producer in the 1968 election. And in that election, Ailes came up with a formula which has more or less been the formula for televising candidates ever since, which is to try to tightly constrict the audiences and to give the candidate as much control as possible over his public appearances, which is very much the playbook that Obama used in the last election.
One of Mad Men’s signature episodes occurred late in its first season, cross-cutting the back story of how Dick Whitman became Don Draper with election night in 1960. Will Sterling Cooper Draper Price produce ads for Nixon in 1968? (And will Matt Weiner, the show’s creator, be savvy enough to mention Ailes? If only, perhaps, to get in the same sort of sucker punch he delivered to Mitt Romney last year.)
Zarathustra Versus the Right Stuff
1968 contrasted the two American space programs: real-life NASA had to compete for attention with the Cinerama visions of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, the top-grossing film of 1968, which smuggled its Nietzschian philosophy into movie theaters via space stations and talking computers, and was a magnificently photographed and scored exercise in liberal fascism.
I don’t use the phrase lightly: arch-leftist Susan Sontag mentioned 2001 in her 1974 New York Review of Books article “Fascinating Fascism,” and the film perfectly fits the template Jonah Goldberg laid out in the section of his 2007 book Liberal Fascism titled “Hollywood Fascists.” It’s worth noting that 2001's special effects, production design, and, in a way, its fascist subtext as well would also be the prototype for George Lucas’s Star Wars in 1977, which itself utterly transformed the movie industry.
In 1966, while Kubrick was shooting the live action scenes that would be bracketed by his film’s revolutionary special effects, Time magazine echoed Friedrich Nietzsche's firebrand 1882 exultation that "God is Dead," softening the impact only slightly by phrasing the words in the form of a question: “Is God Dead?” To understand how radical a moment this was, it’s worth remembering that Time had been created in the 1920s by Henry Luce, who was the son of Christian missionaries to pre-Communist China, and was still living. (Luce would pass away the following year.)
Kubrick would go a step further: in his cinematic vision, not only is God dead, man himself was created by interplanetary aliens who four million years ago manipulated our hominid predecessors by inspiring them to use tools. Tools that – with one of the greatest flash cuts in cinema history – would eventually transform us from cavemen to men preparing to conquer space and literally meet our makers in the film's mystical last segment. But the men depicted in Kubrick’s 2001 were, with the exception of Keir Dullea’s character, who undergoes his spiritual rebirth (itself a recurring fascist leitmotif), Nietzsche’s fabled last men:
In Thus Spake Zarathustra, the eponymous hero predicts the coming of the last man: “Alas, the time of the most despicable man is coming, he that is no longer able to despise himself. Behold, I show you the last man. What is love? What is creation? What is longing? What is a star? Thus asks the last man and blinks. The earth has become small, and on it hops the last man who makes everything small.” The last man is timid, enervated, self-enclosed, and self-satisfied, an industrious economic animal who always finds it in his best interest to go with the flow, to conform to the dictates of common opinion. Yet he does not regard this conformity and passivity as slavish because there is no one person to whom he submits. In following the majority, he does but follow his own will. Zarathustra expatiates, “No shepherd and one herd. Everybody wants the same, everybody is the same: whoever feels different goes voluntarily into a madhouse…. One has one’s little pleasure for the day and one’s little pleasure for the night: but one has a regard for health.” When Zarathustra speaks these words to ordinary citizens, instead of being insulted by his images of their shallow and petty souls, they clamor, “Turn us into these last men.”
In stark real life contrast to the dissipated interstellar bureaucrats depicted in 2001, NASA’s Apollo 8 mission in December of 1968 was the American manned space program’s boldest achievement to date. The previous mission was the first time the Apollo capsule had gone into space with a crew onboard. The January 1967 launch pad fire that killed the crew of Apollo 1 was still fresh and raw in the minds of everyone at NASA. The lunar module wasn’t yet ready for manned testing in space. But there was a Saturn V ready to go – which itself had yet to be flown on a manned mission – and another Apollo capsule. Why not send three men to orbit the moon, George Low, then manager of the Apollo Spacecraft Program Office, proposed? It was the very definition of Tom Wolfe’s Right Stuff – if the accident that would later cripple Apollo 13 had happened on this mission, the three astronauts onboard, Frank Borman, Jim Lovell, and Bill Anders, would very likely have been doomed. Instead, they achieved what some in NASA thought was the Apollo program’s greatest moment; the moment where man left Earth entirely for the first time.
In Charles Murray and Catherine Bly Cox’s beautifully written 1989 book Apollo, the authors wrote:
Reflecting on it years later, Mike Collins [later the command module pilot on Apollo 11] wondered whether the most historic moment in the Apollo Program might have occurred not on July 20, 1969, when Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first men on the moon, but at 9:41 A.M. C.S.T., December 21, 1968.
Collins [serving as “CapCom,” the communications liaison between Mission Control and Apollo 8], a man with a sense of both poetry and history, felt even as he spoke that the words weren’t enough. Here is one of the most historic things we’ve ever done, may ever do, he thought to himself, and there ought to be some recognition of it. And what do I say? “Apollo 8, you are go for T.L.I.” But in the MOCR, that’s the way you said, “Mankind, the time has come to leave your first home.” The S-IVB relit as programmed, firing for five minutes. It increased the spacecraft’s speed from 25,000 to 33,500 feet per second, sufficient to take the spacecraft out of earth’s gravitational field.
* * * * * *
For many of the people in the Apollo Program, Apollo 8 was the most magical flight of all, surpassing even the first landing of Apollo 11. For some, like Mike Collins, Eight’s momentous historic significance was foremost. For John Aaron, an EECOM, it was simpler than that: “When you’re twenty-five and caught up in the thing, and the MOCR’s the only environment you know, you don’t tend to view things that way.” For Aaron, it was the sheer excitement of going to the moon for the first time. Or as FIDO Jay Greene put it, Apollo 8 was the time that they stopped “just running around in circles. Apollo 8 went some place.”
And when they got there, orbiting the moon, the Apollo astronauts did something that would be utterly inconceivable in today’s leftwing multi-culti obsessed overculture. In addition to the sheer guts of the mission, if anything spotlights the difference between the NASA of 1968 and the exhausted organization that bears its name today, it’s this:
On Christmas Eve, in lunar orbit, Frank Borman read a prayer for the congregation at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church back in Houston. Later, on their television broadcast, the three crew members took turns reading from Genesis. [Audio here -- Ed] It came as a surprise to the controllers in the MOCR, as it did to the millions watching on television, and it was just as overpowering to the controllers as to the rest of the world, this magnificent poetry about the creation of the earth, read by the first men to see the earth whole. Frank Borman, the commander of Apollo 8, had the last verses: “And God said, Let the waters under the Heaven be gathered together unto one place, and let the dry land appear, and it was so. And God called the dry land Earth, and the gathering together of the waters He called Seas, and God saw that it was good.” Borman paused, then concluded: “And from the crew of Apollo 8, we close with goodnight, good luck, a Merry Christmas, and God bless all of you—all of you on the good Earth.”
Rod Loe, sitting at his EECOM console, working this last special flight as a controller just as Arnie Aldrich had promised he could, found his eyes welling over with tears. He bent over his flight log, embarrassed, hoping that no one would notice.
But one person certainly noticed the reading. As Fox News drolly put it, when they looked back at the mission forty years later, “Notable atheist Madalyn Murray O'Hair sued NASA over the Genesis reading, but the court ruled it had no jurisdiction over events in space.”
After the mission, an unknown admirer sent a telegram to Borman that read simply: "Thank you Apollo 8. You saved 1968."
Not much else good happened that year.