How George McGovern and the Left Polarized America

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Forty years ago, the Democratic Party stopped being a democratic party. Race and sex, rather than votes, determined who determined the party’s nominee at its 1972 convention. That the most egregious instance of quotas trumping the will of voters involved the Illinois delegation underscores the convention’s repercussions on our current polarized politics.

Barack Obama four years ago, like George McGovern forty years ago, waged an antiwar campaign against a more establishment Democrat associated with that war. The senator from Illinois, like the senator from South Dakota, was his party’s second-leading vote-getter during the primary season. Both 2008 and 1972 were strangely dubbed watershed years for democratizing the political process. Yet Hillary Clinton in 2008, like Hubert Humphrey in 1972, won the popular vote during the primaries only to lose the delegate count during the Democratic National Convention. Meet the new party bosses, same as the old party bosses.

The seeds of victory for the two most radical nominees in major-party history were sown by rules imposed as a result of 1968’s tumultuous convention. In response to the Windy City’s convention commotion, a committee chaired by George McGovern made it easier for the rioters outside the gathering in 1968 to influence the party inside the gathering in 1972 and beyond. That they did. Outside the ill-fated Chicago convention, Bill Ayers targeted policemen with marbles fired from his slingshot and Tom Hayden got arrested for deflating a squad car’s tire. The former subsequently served with Barack Obama on numerous Chicago-area boards and the latter was one of the four founders behind Progressives for Obama. Other radicals in the Second City’s streets included Mike Klonsky, who blogged on an Obama campaign’s website, Carl Davidson, who organized the event where Obama first publicly spoke against the Iraq War, and Bernardine Dohrn, who hosted the first fundraiser of Obama’s political career along with her husband Bill Ayers. The mob rules.

For a sign of the symbolic, and substantive, changing of the guard, the example of Richard J. Daley, who opened the 1968 convention and was stripped of his credentials at the 1972 convention, suffices. The Chicago mayor’s Cook County slate won election as delegates to 1972’s Democratic National Convention. But in Miami, the convention recognized a slate led by Jesse Jackson, who hadn’t even cast a ballot in Illinois’ Democratic primary. The 59 Daley-led delegates had won their place at the convention via the voters of Cook County. But the credentials committee found the victorious slate lacking in women and minorities. So, duly elected delegates were replaced with ones who had been defeated or had never appeared on ballots in the first place. The forces of George McGovern invoked a quota rule devised by the McGovern Commission to disqualify delegates hostile to George McGovern.

“There won’t be any riots in Miami because the people who rioted in Chicago are on the Platform Committee,” writer Ben Wattenberg quipped. Indeed, the Democrats crafted a platform aimed more at provoking Middle America than at winning them over. The document called for prisoners’ rights, federal funding for local food cooperatives, the adoption of an Ethnic Studies curriculum bill, and for the public to “refrain from buying or eating non-union lettuce.”

Were these the demands of a national political party or a splinter group holed up in the student union?

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  • Isherwood

    Tortured logic from the party of torture, the Bush Romney Republicans. And your boy Romney is a real rank and file blue collar guy, ain't he? Up all night baptizing holocaust victims no doubt!

    • mattogilvie55

      Romney is a heckuva lot better than the America-hating African boob that is in the WH right now.

    • Eric G

      "Up all night baptizing holocaust victims no doubt"

      Well, at least you're not a bigot.

      • mattogilvie55

        Nah, he's just another America-hating butthead like Obama.

    • Supreme_Galooty

      Christopher, is that you????? I see that you haven't lost your talent for weak wit and thin gruel.

  • Indignation

    Very good article.

  • Jim_C

    So, I must have missed how it "polarized America?"

    Moderate liberal Barack Obama does a pretty good job of representing my moderate liberal views. Not perfectly–but.

    • Carl S.

      Barack Obama moderate? Is there another person named Barack Obama? Surely you don’t mean the current occupant of the White House. There is nothing moderate about this man. He is a radical anti-American Communist.

      • Jim_C

        A communist who bailed out the banks? A communist who has balked mightiliy at re-regulating Wall Street, even as they privately begged him to do so? The communist who is still allowing private insurance companies and the pharmaceutical industry to dictate terms in health care policy? The anti-American who has systematically targeted and killed more terrorists than any other president? The anti-American who made sure people with pre-existing health conditions didn't get turned down by insurance companies? The anti-American who has increased aid and weaponry to Israel?

        You know, "radical" and "communist" used to have actual definitions. Would you like some help in finding those?

        • reader

          Pure Lenin/Alynsky style demagoguery. Talking points from Obama campaign. The "increased aid and weaponry to Israel" is especially rich, right next to materials illustrating Obama's Jew-hating upbringing and continuous collaboration with the Muslim Brotherhood and its various fronts.

          • Jim_C

            Got proof? I do.

            See I deal in facts, observable occurrences, and matters of public record. You may be more used to a paranoid, imagination-based, emotional handwringing-type style.

          • reader

            The facts are as follows:

            Obama presided over massive nationalization of half of the automobile industry and big parts of the financial sector;
            Obamacare is nothing but the attempt to nationalize healthcare industry and put insurance industry out of business;
            Obama is bent on gutting the military and make it incapable of fighting on two theaters – the long standing Pentagon doctrine
            Obama facilitated major destabilization of the Middle East
            Obama refuses to pursue any viable energy project that would lessen energy dependency of the US..

            The list goes on.

          • fightwarnotwars

            I can't wait until he finally helps bring about the communist revolution we're all waiting for!

          • reader

            Don't. As Stanley Kurtz has written after the exhaustive research, the socialist Mid-West Academy, where Obama has picked all his strategic advice has long ago settled on incremental erosion of the American Constitutional governance.

          • mlcblog

            I don't think you are going to like it as much as you think.

          • Jim_C

            I'm curious as to how you think Obamacare is "nationalizing" health care and aimed to put insurance companies out of business. More people will be buying from private companies.

            In fact, unfortunately (imo) it does not in any way resemble the government-run systems that the rest of the industrialized world uses.

          • Jim_C

            (Though it does resemble the best thing Romney ever did in his life: Massachussetts health care reform. Thank you, Mitt!)

          • reader

            If he had'nt done it, he'd get his nomination in a landslide by now. The healthcare in Massachusetts is a disaster, as it is a disaster in the UK, Sweden, etc, etc.

          • reader

            Apparently, you're not following your "dear leader" and his chronies, for they slipped their tongue on more than a few occasions describing their strategy to incrementally get to the single payer entirely government run system. But I'l give you the benefit of a doubt and suppose that rather than being thick as a brick, you simply think that you're so clever that nobody can see through this demagoguery.

        • Dennis X

          thank you.

        • Stephen_Brady

          A communist would bail out the banks and Wall Street if he wanted them to be appropriately, uh, grateful.

          • Jim_C

            Huh…I guess.

            Well, we've got four years to find out if all the nefarious things that have been "predicted" about him will come true after all, even though none of them have yet.

            And the blood of the capitalist pigs will run red in the streets!!!!

        • pagegl

          Using your logic the Chinese are no longer Communists. I'm not sure I would call Obama a communist, but he most certainly is a socialist. And his socialism tends to be more like the one in which government merely controlled private business rather than took over its owenership.

          • The_John_Galt

            Obama is between and to the left of "National Socialism" and "International Socialism"; i.e. communism.

        • passer-by

          That cool-aid has rusted out your brain!

        • The_John_Galt

          Yep ….. its the same guy!

    • 11bravo

      By putting a quota system on state electorial delegates; or are you just playing dumb? They represent everyone but the down the middle white democrat voter.

  • Jim_C

    You're right; he did polarize a lot of people who had trouble with a partially black president being elected. Some still go to absurd lengths to make fools of themselves trying to prove he's not a US citizen.

    • Stephen_Brady

      Racial Card Warning!!!

  • BLJ

    Obama a "moderate liberal"? What's next? Rosie O'Donnell a beauty queen?

  • maghrebchristians

    Freedom must come to women in the Arab world. Has the Arab spring brought freedom to Women? Please read.


  • mrbean

    Jim C is either a naive indoctrinate or he is plain stupid. I love Jim C's use of the term, "partially black president" kinda like old Harry "Buffoon" Reid's statement, "He doesn't talk like a negro, though" The modern liberal views are basically the same as those of semi- fascist systems. Fascist systems permitt property ownership, while socialist ones did not. However, fascist "property rights" are only nominal: A businessman retains legal title to his goods and assets, but he would not retain control over them. Because he was not politically free, the government could order him to use his property as it desired. Semi-fascist systems permitt property ownership and privatized services, but institute tight controls even for day to day operations and what services are and are not provided. Jim C is a semi-facist if he supports big giver control over the car industry, medical service providers, the energy industry, and the financial industry. Obama would be a full fascist without the Constitutional restrants on him.

    • Stephen_Brady

      Mr. Bean, I can guarantee you that Jim is not "just plain stupid", so that leaves you with only one choice. I would leave the term "naive" off, though. Jim is doctrinaire, but there's nothing naive about him, just as I am doctrinaire on the Right, with my eyes wide open.

      • Supreme_Galooty

        Jim C is probably a retired school teacher, or is married to a school teacher, and as a result is BOTH a naive indoctrinate (GREAT imagery) AND just plain stupid.

        • Jim_C

          I'm a business owner, Galoots. But I do have several teachers in my extended family, and they are exceptional people who routinely go above and beyond to serve their communities.

    • Jim_C

      mrbean, I call Obama "half black" because every time I've called him "black" someone just HAS to point out that he's not "all black." So I can't win for losing, I guess.

      I'm willing to bet most people in the auto industry were happy for the bailout, if that is what you mean by "government control.".

      When Wall Street execs are giving interviews about how they should have been better regulated, I'd say, Yes, I'm for better regulation (or more specifically better monitoring and enforcement) on Wall Street. Now there's a reason there wasn't, and yes, it's sort of like fascism. When you pay for access to government like Wall Street does, you pretty much ARE the government.

      Health care–I like the Swiss system. Everyone is "coerced" into buying a basic healthcare package from a private insurer of their choice. Those insurers can NOT make a profit on that basic package. But they can offer supplementary "boutique" coverage for those willing to pay more for it.

      Fascism has a specific meaning, and if you guys paid more attention to the essential corporate facet of fascism, we'd all be getting somewhere.

  • mrbean

    Remember the Paris Peace Talks and the promises of the Viet Cong and the NVA – and of course the promises of the United States to aid South Vietnam. All of them were broken, the worst being the betrayal of the South Vietnamese and Cambodians by the United States post-Watergate Democrats (all the sore loser McGovernites) resulting in the deaths of 1.5 million Cambodians in the killing fields and well over 1 million South Vietnamese in the purges and the reeducation camps. The naive Obama adminsitration will make sure that Afghanistan isn't any different?

  • Daninkansas

    Look in the background of the picture, to McGovern's left. There stands Gary Hart, failed philosopher-king. Muddle-headed nitwit egoist to the end?

  • maturin20

    This is a wild piece of revisionist history. I thought that the Pentagon polarized America 40 years ago.

    • reader

      Pentagon polarized America? Looks like someone worked really hard to get a History A in urban government run school.

      • maturin20

        Yes. They covered the Vietnam War.

        • reader

          I'm sure they did. Quite an appropriate use of the word "covered", which is exactly what they did to your brain with all sorts of matter, it appears.

          • maturin20

            I can see that you really cannot contend with the fact that it was the Pentagon Papers that divided America and not "the left."

          • reader

            This isn't the fact. This isn't even a fact. The fact is that you're a brain washed by the government school troll, maturin.

          • fightwarnotwars

            Eisenhower, a Republican, warned the U.S. about the threat of the military industrial complex, he was right.

          • Steeloak

            Unfortunately he failed to warn us about the Democrat – Bureaucracy – Social Program Beneficiary complex which dwarfs military spending at 2/3 of the federal budget.

          • BLJ

            LBJ and his Great Society has caused more problems that anything.

          • The_John_Galt

            Reagan warned us about big government, he was even MORE correct!

          • Amused

            LOL…denial . Go study your history reader , unless of course you like to put up more proof of your ignorance .

          • The_John_Galt

            They are one and the same!

    • PDK

      The Veitnam war was started by the liberal democrat LBJ. In an unbelievable exhibition of stagering stupidity, LBJ decided he would prevent the spread of socialism in SE Asia, while advancing the spread socialism here in America wit his great society program.
      His war took 58,175 young American lives, his socialism has help enslaved the minds of enfranchised voters who now believe someone owes them a living. Thank you.

    • The_John_Galt

      No, ….. that was the McGovern / McCarthy Democrats, or I should say communists to be more accurate. The old socialism of FDR era Democrats gave rise to "newer" socialists, "SSDD"

  • Amused

    What a crock of shiiit Flynn , McGovern was one of the last honest politicians in that era . Just remember [if you're old enough ] that it was The Democratic Convention in Chicago , that the radicals you named were rioting about, but you conveniently left out a glaring established FACT , that it was Mayor Daleys Police Department that started the riot . One can easily conclude , as MANY have called it , The Chicago Police Riot .Even Studs Terkel a promionent wreiter and denizen of chicago called it the same , the cops were out of control , the rightist mayor and his rightist cops chose to bust heads FIRST . These people were against the war and that is the ONLY commonality they had with McGovern . The country wasn't quite ready to hear the truth about Vietnam , McGovern lost , he was not a "leftist " nor did he polarize anyone . I suggest you revisit the history and facts of that time instead of applying your SPIN on that era and that Candidate .

  • PDK

    A fine and interesting post Daniel.
    I was born in 54, so by 68 I was becoming quite aware of the world around me. In July of 72 I turned 18, signed up for the draft as was the law back then and still living in my native, home state of Ma..
    I did not vote for McGovern, in fact I remember those bumber stickers and the liberal ambience so thick back then as they are today up in Ma.. I no longer live in Ma..
    Although I am glad to read your perspective, I shall always remember that time as RMNs time for delivering on his promise to give America peace with honor.
    IMHO, the 5 worst Presidents in American history are, by chronology, Wilson, FDR, LBJ. Jimmy Carter and BHO, all democrats. At lest FDR had a good WW2 record.
    I suppose after reading your post had McGovern achieved the Presidency my 5 worts POTUSs would be my 6 worst POTUSs.
    One and done. Nobama 2012, vote republican. Thank you.

    • The_John_Galt

      Interesting post; my 5 worst presidents are:

      1) Lincoln
      2) Obama
      3) F. Roosevelt
      4) Wilson
      5) L. Johnson

      If you want to go down even more:
      6) Carter
      7) Kennedy
      8) T. Roosevelt

      Each one a "progressive"!

      • Ghostwriter

        I've got a question. Who are your five best presidents?

        • The_John_Galt

          I am glad to respond:

          1) George Washington
          2) Thomas Jefferson
          3) Calvin Coolidge
          4) Ronald Reagan
          5) James Madison

  • Amused

    Nice piece of partisan propaganda Flynn , too bad it wont float with anyone who can read . But it sells well with the ignorant sycophants who are too damn lazy to fact-check . You get your expected Pavlovian Response from the dumbed down Americans .

    • The_John_Galt

      "Partisan" ….. hardly! There was a fundamental shift in the Democrat Party in the 60's, I was there and I saw it! The party took a sharp turn to the left and did not look back, the "dumbed down Americans" as you put it are in fact old guard Democrats that have not yet awoke from their drunken slumber, and still insist that Obama is good as he takes your liberty and freedom.

  • g_jochnowitz

    Even before McGovern ran for President, there was the National Conference for the New Politics, held in Chicago in August 1967.
    A bit over a year later, there was the teachers' strike in New York City, which led to a great outburst of anti-Semitism.

  • Wesley69

    The Moderate-Conservatives within the Democrat party became fewer and fewer after 1968. LBJ had lost control over his party when he decided not to seek reelection. The Vietnam War and its anti-war movement did, not only LBJ in, but the Conservative Democrats, who were not thrilled about the Civil Rights legislation passed in the 60's.

    After the insanity of the Chicago Convention of 68, in 72, the Radicals took over the Democrat Convention and with McGovern as the standard bearer went down to historic defeat. In this election, President Nixon developed a Southern Strategy to attract Southern Democrats into or vote for the Republican Party. Had Watergate not occurred, Nixon may have made the Republican Party the governing party in the US. It was during this time we have the realigning of various constituencies. Southerners go Republican. Blacks go Democrat, as well as Feminists. Evangical Christians go Republican.

    After Carter's disasterous presidency, Reagan restored the fortunes of the Republican Party. Though there was partisanship during Reagan, Bush and Clinton's presidency, it was ignited by the disputed election of 2000. Bush's election was not accepted by Democrats and his reelection only put salt into their wounds. The Iraqi War, as did the Vietnam War, helped to weaken Bush severely. With the crash of 2008, no Republican was going to win. Nor were Republicans willing to go after Obama, an excellent speaker and the first African American nominee of any party.

    Under Bush and certainly under Obama, the partisanship is extreme. But so too are the central ideas of each party – the Republicans – to the Right, the Democrats – to the Left. Movement to the middle is necessary for either party to win, but will they swing hard either way once elected.

    As for McGovern winning today??? Obama is a sharp political operative. He is definitely a more attractive candidate. McGovern was not the idealogue that Obama is. The dirty game of politics is something that Obama is certainly winning to engage in. McGovern, I believe, would never stoop to that level. However, his opponent, Nixon, certainly did.

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  • kentatwater

    Yeah, and Hussein is half-white. What of it?

  • kentatwater

    Your response to "reader" is disengenious, in the extreme.

    Obamacare is nothing but the attempt to nationalize healthcare industry and put insurance industry out of business

    We have no public option. People are mandated to buy insurance from a private company. This is not nationalized health care.

    There is no debate that the regime's initial push was for a "single payer" ("socialized," once we apply a little euphemism-remover) system. That the Obamacare monstrosity we have now does not reflect such…yet…was not for a lack of trying.

    As "reader" said: …attempt to nationalize… Advantage, "reader."

    The auto industry likewise has not been nationalized.

    Nationalization entails the termination of private interest in assets by the government. Private bondholders had the value of their bonds rendered virtually nil.

    As a Conservative Teacher puts it:

    It matters that President Obama then took Bush's program and expanded it and turned it from a 'bailout to save the auto industries' into a 'government takes over GM and gives half of it to the union and gives Chrysler a lot of cash to get bought by an Italian company.' And rather than simply giving the money out as a loan with conditions, like Bush was going to do, Obama and his officials instead made far more daily decisions and played political games with the closing of dealerships and who got pensions- they played political games at a time when our nation was facing a deep crisis. That was gangster capitalism at its finest.

    Sure looks like nationalization to me.

  • kentatwater

    Hey you can think whatever you want is nationalization….but that doesn't make it so.

    Take your own advice. The regime was very clear on what its goal has been, regarding healthcare. The unworkable stop gap garbage that will soon be repealed was designed to be a failure…but only after wrecking the health insurance industry.

    Face it, Obama saved these industries and the cascading effects their bankruptcy would have had across the economy.

    There's nothing else to call that, but fantasy. We don't know what would have happened with Chrysler or GM, had the nationalization process not been started.

    At the time FPM ran articles claiming that Obama was personally deciding which dealerships should be shut down and he was only shutting down "conservative" and Christian owners. What malarky.

    And you know such is not true? Where do you get your info…or is it just a matter of hopey-changy belief?

  • kentatwater

    The companies would have been broken up and sold off. Millions of jobs…

    Naw. That's not how bankruptcy and reorganization works. Yours is a fantasy land where, if the sugar daddy government doesn't swoop in to save a company, it's doomed.

    You don't have no evidence of this. <—- really? "don't have no?"

    Nope. It is a stated goal of the regime.

    Mandating people to buy their products is sure an ass-backwards way of destroying them.

    Creating a marketplace where people pay more and more for less and less is a formula for engendering a desire for rescue from big daddy government.

    Since insurance companies are pencil pushers that produce nothing, I'm not sure what would be destroyed anyway.

    Heh. Yeh. For an industry that produces "nothing," some people sure do want it around when they want their birth control pills "free."

  • justquitnow

    The companies would have been broken up and sold off. Millions of jobs…

    "Naw. That's not how bankruptcy and reorganization works. Yours is a fantasy land where, if the sugar daddy government doesn't swoop in to save a company, it's doomed."

    Yes, it might seem like fantasy land because you live here in this alternate universe. I'm not doing research for you this morning….but there was a banking crisis going on too…I'm not sure where you think the money for restructuring was going to come from. Maybe you could check with Mitt Romney who has been faulted from across the spectrum of economists for saying the same thing you say. It's just not realistic. In the height of the crisis, the "government" was the only entity that could step in for the obvious reasons. But here in the bubble, you have an alternate history for anything that might disrupt the belief system.

    "Nope. It (destroying insurance companies) is a stated goal of the regime."

    Again "regime"…that's cute. Um…I don't think we are going to see additional health care reform if Obama is reelected. The affordable Health Care Act is really going to start taking effect next year and through 2014, so it would be odd to forward anymore legislation on health care. We should just create national health care service like that commie Churchill did in England. I think we should….is destroying insurance companies now my stated goal?

    "Creating a marketplace where people pay more and more for less and less is a formula for engendering a desire for rescue from big daddy government."

    But insurance is about MORE people paying less for more. The broader the insurance base, the less the premiums have to be. The state of insurance companies relative to the health care industry is unique in the United States where because of the insurance company / health provider hybrids, the price of healthcare has become so great you can't afford it without insurance. If you get bashed in the face and have to go to the emergency room, it will costs thousands of dollars…and if you don't have insurance to cover their weird billing, your screwed. The guy who is sewing your face closed isn't getting the $500/hour the bill might come out to…it's all the crazy hospital and admin costs that get ya. This labyrinth of crap has been created over the years to syphon off money in the form of "profit". Not doctor or nurse or surgeon or specialist's profit, but the profit of the creators of the structure (the insurance corporations). If we are headed to single payer healthcare, then this is the scenic route.

    "Heh. Yeh. For an industry that produces "nothing," some people sure do want it around when they want their birth control pills "free."

    Yeah you're hilarious. They don't produce anything but paper and woe….but since we can't have a single-payer healthcare system, then insurance companies are necessary because it's too expensive to just pay as you go (thanks to them).

  • kentatwater

    In the height of the crisis, the "government" was the only entity that could step in for the obvious reasons. But here in the bubble, you have an alternate history for anything that might disrupt the belief system.

    No alternate history…just real history. Before "the" great depression, there was an earlier depression. It didn't blossom into the tide of misery of "the" depression, precisely because of how little the government interfered with the market.

    As far as health insurance goes, you may want to research precisely why we have a system where the default is insurance provided by employers. The answer will likely surprise you.

    Regardless of whether a good or service is provided in a pseudo-market, or is socialist, any time most consumers are divorced from its cost, you will see rising costs, shortages, or both. It is thus in Canada, where people die waiting for care for already diagnosed diseases. In Sweden, clinics often have armed guards ready to turn people away, when they've handled the day's quota.

    They don't produce anything but paper and woe

    Sound and fury, signifying nothing.

    … it's too expensive…

    We actually agree on the effect, just not the cause. A socialized system would actually be the most expensive of all; it simply displaces the availability of expensive care, for the lack of care.

  • Jim_C

    Switzerland. Mandated, government-subsidized coverage (tiered to income level). BUT–People shop for value and health savings accounts are common. Insurance companies cannot profit on basic coverage–but they can offer extras to attract patronage. Government does not redistribute.

    And they spend way less.

    And we spend way more than ANY of our industrialized counterparts (who don't complain about their coverage nearly as much as we do, despite your portrayal).

  • kentatwater

    People like Shona Holmes in Canada are made to face the possibility of permanent blindness, because of the triage caused by socialism-induced scarcity of care. Fortunately, she had the means to come here to be treated.

    You appear to make the mistake many other make, when responding to people like myself, who do not want the likes of Obamacare. I don't think the current system is terrific, I want it to go in the opposite direction, with fewer regulations, and with the consumer more in the cost loop. Without that, prices are going to continue to climb. For example, even though extremely expensive equipment is needed for Lasik procedures, the prices for it keep dropping. I believe the reason for this, is it is a procedure rarely covered by insurance.

  • Canof Sand

    Switzerland is over 40% of its GDP in debt!

    "Government does not redistribute"
    Then how do you explain the progressive tax system? Claim it's "social justice" or whatever crap you like all you want, it's still, by bloody definition, redistribution of wealth.

  • Jim_C

    I was referring to their health care system.

  • kentatwater

    Ah, lovely. Now the condescending provincial characterization. A favorite tacit among the left.

  • kentatwater

    Because when one wishes to carve away the truth from the half-truths, obfuscation, and lies, a scalpel is a better choice of tool, than a mallet.