Remembering Marvin Kitman

Remembering Marvin Kitman

He ran for president of the United States in 1964—as the candidate of Monocle magazine. 


Marvin Kitman, a contributor to this magazine and a friend and co-conspirator of the late Nation editor and publisher Victor Navasky, as well as myself, died last week.

The three of us first joined forces in the early 1960s, at Monocle, a magazine of political satire that Victor with two others had started at Yale Law School.

Monocle has long since passed away, a victim of undercapitalization and under-appreciation. But back in its heyday, as a publicity stunt, the three of us nominated Marvin to run as the magazine’s candidate for president of the United States of America.

That was in 1964, the year in which Senator Barry Goldwater was the GOP’s desperate choice. The senator from Arizona’s political views were very, very, very far to the right.

One of the first questions faced by the Monocle cabal was under whose banner would Marvin run? Democrat? GOP? Socialist? Prohibitionist? Party of one?

That turned out to be no problem. Marvin boasted that he was a registered Republican, which was a welcome contrast to the leftish Navasky and Lingeman. More important, strategically, was the fact that he happened to be old enough (35) to be president as specified in the Constitution, unlike those of us in his brain trust.

In his presidential run he went all out, even entering the New Hampshire primary. Beyond identifying as a Republican, he represented himself as a “real Lincoln Republican,” who was “more reactionary than Goldwater.” Indeed, he ran on Honest Abe’s 1860 platform, which included such controversial planks as freeing the slaves and garrisoning Fort Sumter.

Before becoming a journalist and a satirist, Marvin graduated from the Baruch College at City College of New York. Later, while acquiring a wife, Carol, and three children, he wrote a humor column in a horse racing tip sheet, the Armstrong Daily, among other things, which is I believe where Victor discovered him. After his Monocle stint, Marvin went on to become Newsday’s TV critic, a post he held for 35 years; he was a finalist one year for the Pulitzer Prize in criticism.

During those years he published seven books. His most recent, Gullible’s Travels, casts a jaundiced eye on Trump. As I hardly need to say, it is very funny.

Marvin! I’ve been telling Nation readers how funny you were. Why do you leave me feeling so sad?

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