Sunday, February 20, 2011

A Solid and Sensible Republican

I remember the days when a Republican and a Democrat could have sensible, calm and helpful conversations about political matters. Really!
by Charlie Leck

I recently read a very interesting piece by conservative columnist, George Will [And now for a few words from Mitch Daniels), and it got me thinking and remembering the days when progressives and conservatives respected each other and could have meaningful and productive conversations.

George Will wrote of a recent speech by Daniels at a Conservative Political Action Conference and about the audience that suddenly “realized they were hearing something unconventional – that they were being paid the rare compliment of being addressed as reflective adults – they reciprocated his respect with quiet attention to his elegant presentation of conservatism for grown-ups.”

Oh, my!

“‘The regulatory rainforest through which our enterprises must hack their way is blighting the future of millions of Americans.’ And Daniels thinks conservatives’ ‘first thought’ should be about ‘those still on that first rung of life’s ladder.’

“‘Upward mobility from the bottom is the crux of the American promise, and the stagnation of the middle class is in fact becoming a problem, on any fair reading of the facts. Our main task is not to see that people of great wealth add to it, but that those without much money have a greater chance to earn some.”

Oh, my! Now that’s a gentleman with whom it would be enjoyable to sit down and have a chat.

My late father-in-law, Lyman E. Wakefield, Jr., was a solid and proud Republican. I had a lot of respect for him and his positions and he expressed them with such politeness and logic that I enjoyed listening to him. Mind you, we rarely agreed, but we’d hear each other out. That was not an uncommon thing a few decades ago.

Lyman never called me an idiot or a socialist and he never doubted my patriotism and devotion to country. Though we rarely found it, both of us believed there might be some kind of middle ground upon which we could meet and agree. But again, that’s the way politics worked when I was a younger man.

Lyman was a staunch Reagan guy and I was a Bill Clinton backer. It never drove a wedge between us. He’d still invite me to come down to the Minneapolis Club for lunch and we’d inevitably end up talking politics. He’d also invite me to his house when he had a gathering of Republicans. It was great fun.

I never thought much of Ronald Reagan; however, he was a President with gonads and he raised taxes when it was unpopular but necessary to cool down our national debt.

I wonder what Lyman would think of Sarah Palin, Michele Bachman and Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker. I wonder how he’d react to the Tea Party. Oh, my! I miss talking to him.

Lyman had a bunch of really great Republican friends and I got to know them also – guys like former U.S. Senators Rudy Boschwitz and David Durenberger, and Wheelock Whitney, George Pillsbury, Bill Frenzel, Rod Graham, Doug Head and Vin Weber. My progressive attitudes were respected by them and we talked about it together – though sometimes quite jokingly, it was never disrespectfully. It was an honor to get to know these gentlemen and most of them I wouldn’t have met had it not been for Lyman.

One time, back in the 70s, I was asked to serve as the master of ceremonies at a Republican Fund Raiser – a fashion show put on by the wives of most of the guys I mentioned above. Those who asked me knew I’d have fun with it and that my humor would be a bit biting, but it made for an extraordinary evening and we all had an enjoyable time with it and the whole shindig ended with hugs all around.

Today, I can’t imagine kidding around with Michel Bachmann – and I definitely can’t imagine hugging her!

Lyman, I miss you! I miss you every single day! I wonder if I could get to know Mitch Daniels. I know, if you were alive, you'd arrange it.


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