Gentleman, statesman

George McGovern was a passionate politician, but a kind man first

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George McGovern made it difficult to vote for him and nearly impossible to dislike him.

He will be remembered by history as the ultra-liberal presidential candidate who lost all but one state to Richard Nixon in the Electoral College in 1972. He pledged legal marijuana, recognition of Cuba in Castro’s heyday, amnesty for draft dodgers and a minimum income for all Americans.

Even after decades of such notions percolating, and after four years of Barack Obama, such an agenda might have been too radical even today.

But we will remember George McGovern somewhat differently – as an elder statesman who gave of his time to a fault, inspired a generation of followers and managed to lampoon himself with quiet dignity on the comedy show Saturday Night Live in the 1980s.

In his monologue on that show, he joked that he was hosting Saturday Night Live because he needed the money. “Frankly, I don’t have many job options,” he deadpanned.

Of course, that was pure poppycock. The former U.S. senator was in great demand, and was remarkably selfless in his later years, speaking to civic clubs and veterans’ groups and immersing himself in community life in St. Augustine, Fla.

George McGovern, who died Sunday at 90, had a gentle charisma and a homespun South Dakota sensibility. He was soft spoken and kind, and while a lion of liberalism he was also a throwback to an era in which partisan divides weren’t necessarily human barriers. Although he was a Democrat, he spoke very fondly of Richard Nixon as well as Bob Dole, with whom he worked closely to try to feed hungry children.

In this day of political demonization, it’s important to remember there’s another human being on the other side of the aisle. George McGovern never forgot.

“This is what is missing from our politics today,” writes conservative columnist Cal Thomas. “If we don’t like a person’s politics, we reflexively dislike the person.

“McGovern practiced ‘family values’ better than some conservatives who merely talk about them. ...

“I shall miss George McGovern as a friend, a fellow American, a patriot and an example.”

This page represents pretty much the political opposite of him. But the country has lost a good man and good American.

Comments (9) Add comment
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Jon Lester
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Jon Lester 10/24/12 - 02:37 am
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I like that you're giving him an appreciation of sorts here,

but I think there's a pretty stark contrast between McGovern's ideals and Obama's actual record.

rmwhitley
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rmwhitley 10/24/12 - 08:32 am
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I never
Unpublished

cared for Mr. McGovern but he was an American icon and may God bless his soul.

harley_52
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harley_52 10/24/12 - 09:27 am
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McGovern Was...

...one of those old style democrats who actually loved his Country, did more than his share in her service, and continued to work toward what he believed were his Country's best interests.

Pity we don't have that kind of democrats around anymore, at least not in high positions in the democrat party.

God rest his soul.

itsanotherday1
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itsanotherday1 10/24/12 - 10:53 am
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Pity we don't have many of

Pity we don't have many of them on either side of the aisle. The "reflexive dislike" comes from the hateful and divisive way many disagree rather than because of their politics. Pelosi couldn't carry Tip O'Neal's briefcase as an effective SOTH is a fine example. He was a partisan, but willing to work across the aisle and compromise to get things done.

Riverman1
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Riverman1 10/24/12 - 02:53 pm
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George McGovern was a

George McGovern was a decorated bomber pilot in WWII. He had two grown children who died of alcoholism. He receives my admiration and sympathy as a parent. I know Bob Dole considered him a close friend and that means a lot, also.

Retired Army
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Retired Army 10/24/12 - 04:32 pm
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I wonder why my cut and paste

I wonder why my cut and paste of George McGovern's heroic military service during World War II was removed from this comment section earlier today.

It couldn't be because the editorialists either through ignorance or pure unadultrated meaness couldn't bring themselves to publicly mention that it is possible to be a Liberal and a patriot? Naw, not our hometown patriots. Nobody would stoop that low, would they?

I'll give them as pass as would the Gentleman from South Dakota might and just say it was a missed opportunity and you don't have to worry about us veterans. We're sorta used to that kind of treatment by the right wing now.

Sean Moores
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Sean Moores 10/24/12 - 04:53 pm
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@ Retired Army

It was because you copy and pasted almost 1500 words from another website. You are welcome to praise him as much as you would like. You can even quote the website or use it for reference material, but you should use your own words rather than post such a long verbatim C&P.

Retired Army
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Retired Army 10/24/12 - 06:55 pm
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Thanks Sean. I'll keep that

Thanks Sean. I'll keep that in mind as I read others lenghty cut and paste posts.

But that still doesn't answer the question of why on God's green earth the editorial staff of the Augusta Chronicle failed to mention the heroic military service George McGovern gave to America as a young man in what was one of, if not the most dangerous jobs his generation performed in protecting us.

Those of us who looked up that record and understand the type of courage, grit and raw determination it took to be a bomber crewman in WWII are totally in awe of thier sacrafice.

To leave that out of this man's obituary is shamefull! I don't think I'm off the mark when I say this staff ought to just plain ol' man up and admit to it, apologize to all veterans of any political stripe and move on.

Retired Army
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Retired Army 10/24/12 - 06:58 pm
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Mucho Gusto Sean

Oh, by the way Sean, congratulations on getting over the 1,000 points mark. Glad to know I was a small part of it and there when it happened.

harley_52
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harley_52 10/24/12 - 08:05 pm
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I Applaud And Congratulate...

....the ACES for having the open mindedness and the humanity to honor and praise a deceased politician whose political philosophy was completely at odds with theirs and that of most Conservatives.

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