Memories of Days Gone By

Author: Gary Hart

In a recent talk to a large Colorado political group, I indulged in memories.

I remembered President Ford offering me a ride in Marine One from Andrews Air Force Base to the White House.

I remembered calling President Ford’s chief of staff, Dick Cheney, on behalf of the Director of the CIA, on Christmas Eve to request Presidential approval to have Richard Welch, station chief in Athens, to be buried with honor at Arlington after having been killed by terrorists.

I remembered becoming close friends with John McCain during Navy travel and participating in both his wedding and his funeral.

I remembered Vice President George H.W. Bush offering me the use of his home in Maine during my 1984 presidential campaign and then reminding him that I was running against his administration.

I remembered Senator Barry Goldwater coming to Colorado in 1980 during my re-election campaign in 1980 and telling the press I was “the most honest and moral man” he had ever met in politics.

I remembered becoming very good friends even to this day with Senator Bill Cohen of Maine and writing books with him.

I remembered being co-chair with Senator Warren Rudman of the historic U.S. Commission on National Security for the 21st Century for almost three years.

These and other similar memories are significant not because they involved me, but because none of these experiences would happen today.  They all involved leading Republicans in those days not too long ago.

Bipartisanship did not just fade away.  It was consciously and purposely destroyed by State legislature gerrymandering, focus on wedge issues including abortion and gun control, systematic replacement of moderate Republican leaders by right wing zealots, demonization of Democrats, voter suppression in minority communities, refusal to confirm Democratic appointment of judges, and much else.

All this and more required time, effort, planning, and a lot of money.  Most recently, it required destruction of as much of the Obama administration’s domestic and foreign policy as possible.

And now, even in recent hours, it required Republican Senators to bow before the man in the White House who considers them his lackeys and refuse to condemn his illegal and unconstitutional behavior.

This is polarization meant to last long into the future or at least until the next depression or world war.

No one can read the minds of those Republican Senators.  But it is difficult to avoid the conclusion that fealty to the authoritarian in the White House in the interest of maintaining an office has replaced statesmanship, the national interest, and personal integrity.

Discover a way to cast votes on conviction of impeachment by secret ballots and you will find out how many Republican Senators sold their souls to cling to office.

Will there ever be a time characterized by experiences such as mine?  I don’t know.  But I pray, for my country, that such a time will come.

 

13 Responses to “Memories of Days Gone By”

  1. Stephen D. Pillow Says:

    “And now, even in recent hours, it required Republican Senators to bow before the man in the White House who considers them his lackeys and refuse to condemn his illegal and unconstitutional behavior.

    This should be the clarion call by all democratic candidates running against any and all repubicans now and in the future for all repubicans have also bowed before the occupant of the white house and have sold their souls, their country, their Constitution, and their fellow citizens of this nation to the highest bidder, which in this case is Vladimir Putin. As a wise man once said, “They are all singing the song ‘I, My, Me, Mine.” There is no you, yours, they , or them in that song.

  2. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    So, what has happened has not been by mistake or accident but, meticulously planned and directed.

    Well, all of that is going to require a rigorous effort to eradicate. Which can be achieved only when the future is embraced.

    In any case, all I know is that if Trump wins in 2020, plans will be made for my relocation to French Polynesia, if it isn’t below the water line by then. 🙂

  3. Michael Says:

    There is profit in division. A lot of what we are experiencing today is the result of the monetization of hate by the right-wing media machine that started with talk radio in the 1980s and continued through twenty-five years of Fox News, and is getting even more bizarre with OAN. The Republican Party kowtowed to those media personalities no matter how much anger was incited by the lies they concocted because they were inciting their voters who turned out on Election day. The result is that legislators who worked with the other side – the side deemed un-American traitors – were systematically kicked out of the party in the name of ideological purity and replaced by radicals who will stop at nothing to destroy the opposition by gerrymandering, breaking government, packing courts and all the rest. The fragmented media landscape needs reform; a new and strengthened Fairness Doctrine and some kind of penalties for manufacturing outright lies would probably help a lot. The latter would be a tough one to square with the First Amendment, especially as TV programing becomes less important and the media landscape even more fragmented.

    On a side note, Sen. Hart’s memory about George Bush inviting him to stay in his home induced my own memory: I was in a rented van with four or five Hart supporters making our way north from NYC to Maine to knock on doors. The same group done so for months in NH and after that big victory we were really ginned up. On radio news we heard James Baker say that he thought Gary Hart was going to be the Democratic nominee, which caused an eruption of cheers. As if on cue, a car with Colorado plates passed us by. We accelerated, caught up and held a Hart for president placard in the window, which the burly driver from Colorado wanted. He rolled down his window and stuck out his arm, leading to a very dangerous high-speed maneuver to get close enough to give it to him. That maneuver failed but we did, of course, win big in Vermont. Every one of the kids in that van went on to become Hart delegates at the convention. Those were the days.

  4. Brian C McCarthy Says:

    Senator,

    It may be a while before a time like that may come again, if the SOTU theatrics of last night are any indicator. A president refusing to shake the House Speaker’s hand. Awarding the highest civilian honor, during the speech, to a partisan, ideological rabble-rouser with a long history of racist and misogynistic comments. The House Speaker tearing up the President’s speech as he concluded giving it. The most political SOTU ever, crafted to resemble a reality show. It should never have taken place with the President under impeachment and with the trial still ongoing. What a ludicrous and demoralizing spectacle. The SOTU should perhaps be given by written report in future if it can no longer be done in speech form with any dignity.

    BCM

  5. Paul G Says:

    MEMORIES OF A (DECENT) DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC

    Of the seven exemplary memories of bipartisan respect for each other’s fundamental human decency – and as exceptionally cited by Senator Hart – the most enduring one should be the Goldwater example.

    I say “exceptional” because the humble and former (once a divinity student always a) divinity student, used the personal pronoun to introduce each enlightening example of 50+ years’ heroic public service.

    Decades before he became the unheralded hero of our republic and 9/11, he was recognized first and foremost as a decent and honest man by fundamentally decent leaders of both major parties, including Senate leader Mike Mansfield (D-MT) and GOP presidential nominee Barry Goldwater (R-AZ).

    Decades before he was inspired by JFK’s call: “ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country,” the 1950’s freshman refused to sign a school pledge he saw as discriminatory towards females – even though everyone else signed it. (What It Takes by Richard Ben Cramer, 1992).

    Decades later – long after his leading presidential campaign was ambushed by fake quote headlines immediately after his announcement to replace a war-profiteering Iran-Contra government with one of equity for all – Senator Hart (and Rudman) pre-9/11 warnings are officially replaced by Bin Laden’s image in the 2004 final report!

    Now, we the little people, are no longer the target of 1980’s foreign consultant-lobbyists Manafort, Stone, Black and Atwater with the nixonian Ailes and Barr helping orchestrate one or more susceptible US media editors to “objectively” amplify their fake news set-ups; the senate just ratified Russia’s GRU!

    As the door of time closes on all of us, we owe it not only to our idealistic democratic republic but to young students of government and media and those we care deeply about to make our memories last. After all, as Senator Hart calls out to all citizens of good will and principled disposition; we demand respect for our decency.

  6. Hamilton Bean Says:

    Glad to see that Sen. Mitt Romney was guided by his principles and displayed some of the statesmanship that you note. It was a very small glimmer of hope of what we might yet be again.

  7. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Speaking of glimmers of hope, do we know if Senator Biden listens to any of his advisors? Or, is that the problem. Inquiring minds would really like to know …

  8. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth Miller, I don’t think Biden’s advisers, or Biden himself, are equipped to handle campaigning in the age of Trump. The are stuck in a past world.

  9. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Michael, I sense that you are in the majority with that opinion. You’ll have to think back on it when Trump is re-elected.

  10. Michael Says:

    Elizabeth, think a bit about Pelosi ripping up Trump’s State of the Union “address.” She would never have done that with any other president, no matter how much she might have disagreed with him. It would have been inappropriate and she would have been roundly excoriated for it. She did now it because we are witnessing something dangerous to the foundations of our democracy and a statement had to be made. A line she nor any other speaker would have crossed before had to be crossed. What made it electorally brilliant was that she did what every suburban woman watching wanted to do, especially with Rush Limbaugh receiving the honor he did. Break the Republicans in the suburbs and you’ve broken the back of the Republican Party. The whole time she was resisting impeachment I thought Pelosi didn’t ‘get it.’ But she does.

  11. Gary Hart Says:

    Too soon to write the epitaph for the Biden candidacy, Elizabeth, but he has a lot of work to do to dig out of a hole. Michael is at least partly right. Perennial candidates wear thin. Times change and it is very hard to change with them. JB is running the best campaign he can: I am decent and Trump is not. His biggest problems are not with advisers. Trump is on a roll now. That may tempt him to do something disastrous. GH

  12. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Michael,

    I have never really been a big fan of Nancy Pelosi. But, I have gained so much respect for her over the last many years and, yes, she does, indeed, get it. I have no problem, whatsoever, with her ripping up the speech. Hasn’t she done that before? I have a distinct memory of that, as being just a matter of fact thing, you know, the speech is over, rip it up. 🙂

    The problem I’m beginning to have with Biden’s campaign is that he may not be the Biden of old. While I am still convinced that Biden is the only one who can beat Trump – primarily by winning over a large chunk of the conservative crowd and independents – he’s never been a great campaigner or debater – I mean in the style of an Obama or Buttigieg – or a great fundraiser which has actually been one his more endearing qualities.

    But, Biden is the man you want if you want, as I do, America to regain its global leadership role, without which, the existential threats facing mankind cannot be mitigated, much less extinguished. You see, Biden is more of a ‘behind the scenes’ leader and that has always been my preference.

  13. Elizabeth Miller Says:

    Senator Hart,
    >>>>>>>Too soon to write the epitaph for the Biden candidacy …

    Hey, Biden did infinitely better in Iowa this week than he did the last time around when, on point of privilege, he withdrew from the race in what I have always called the first Fiasco in Iowa – not because Senator Obama won but because Senator Biden received less than one percent of the vote in the Iowa caucuses.

    I will be the last person on the planet, bar none, to write that epitaph and, I’ll go down kicking and screaming if Biden isn’t ultimately successful.

    As for the advisors, that was more my lamenting that your advice hasn’t been taken yet. Maybe, tonight at the debate in New Hampshire, Biden will expound, ad Bidenitum, on what he is chomping at the bit to do to restore America’s credibility in the minds of Ukrainian leaders and how he will, together with democracies around the world, push back against Putin’s efforts to thwart democratic principles.

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