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In Memoriam Eugene McCarthy

Posted by GayPatriotWest at 5:24 am - December 11, 2005.
Filed under: American History,Liberals

Former Minnesota Senator and 1968 presidential candidate Eugene McCarthy died in his sleep yesterday in Georgetown. He was 89. He is one of the few truly great individuals that I met. Before he spoke to the University of Virginia’s Jefferson Literary and Debating Society in 1992, I was one of the lucky society members who got to dine with him at the Ivy Inn. Well into his seventies, he still had all his faculties as well as a clear command of the political issues of the day and a keen respect for the opinions of his adversaries.

I can still recall that evening, even the table next to a window facing west. It was so rare, so wonderful to meet a political giant who delighted in engaging with students, even those with whom he disagreed. And he, a lion of the 1960s anti-Vietnam War left, and I rarely agreed. I do remember at least the one issue where we were in agreement — campaign finance reform. He strongly opposed limitations on campaign contributions, noting that he could not have launched his maverick campaign in 1968 without a number of very large (over $100,000) contributions from wealthy donors.

And I’m not the only conservative who liked this old man. “Barry Goldwater considered him one of his favorite politicians–‘a gentleman and a scholar, who has done things in a calm and reasonable way.’” Others can do a better job of citing his achievements (e.g., here and here). And make sure to check out Andrew Ferguson’s portrait of the man.

I’ll just leave you with a pleasant image of a true exchange between adversaries in an old Charlottesville farm house (now as restaurant) as the sun declined in the west. His face illuminated by that evening light as he listened to students much younger than he and took us as seriously as if we knew as much as he.

What I consider his greatness, that he was a man of firm (and well-articulated) political convictions, but an individual who understood and respected the opinions of his adversaries, should serve as inspiration to his ideological heirs. And an example to their adversaries.

(h/t: Powerline)

-Dan (AKA GayPatriotWest):

Who are Our Conservative “Divas”?

One thing which seems to unite all gay men is our respect (in some cases, reverence) for strong woman. We see this notably in our affection for such screen legends as Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn and Elizabeth Taylor and for Broadway divas like Ethel Merman, Tallulah Bankhead and Carol Channing. Some turn to their affection to woman who have succeeded in a variety of different venues, particularly such divas as Marlene Dietrich and Barbra Streisand, the latter whose song and screen performances (especially Funny Girl, What’s up Doc? and The Way we Were), we enjoy despite her angry leftist politics.

Given Barbra’s politics, perhaps we gay conservatives need to find a few divas of our own, strong women, who are successful and command respect even from straight men, but whose political views don’t turn our stomachs. To that end, Bruce and I have decided to poll our readers to help determine the gay conservative diva — or perhaps divas.

Before we do that poll, we’d like to open nominations in several categories.

In the Political Leaders category, obvious nominees include Margaret Thatcher and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, but perhaps we should also include German Chancellor Angela Merkel. And of course, we should consider such political aides as Mary Matalin (who once complimented your humbled blogger on his then-long and curly locks) and the President’s confidante, Ambassador Karen Hughes. Is there anyone else we should consider?

In the field of political commentary I would favor my Athena*, Peggy Noonan, while Bruce would pick Ann Coulter.

There are many candidates for the conservative blogress diva including Ann Althouse, Tammy Bruce (can a lesbian be a diva?) Polipundit‘s Lorie Byrd, Bridget Johnson (GOP Vixen) and Michelle Malkin.

In Entertainment, our choices seem limited as so many strong women either have kept their politics to themselves or mouthed off against conservatives. One great playwright comes to mind–Claire Booth Luce, a friend to the Buckley family and author of The Women, a perennial favorite of gay men. Emmy Award winning actress Patricia Heaton of Everybody Loves Raymond and Elizabeth Hasselback of The View have come out as Republicans. Are there others?

If we turn to U.S. history, we would naturally include Alice Roosevelt Longworth, daughter of a Republican president and wife to a Republican Speaker of the House, who kept an embroidered pillow on her sofa with this phrase, “If you haven’t anything nice to say, come sit by me.” Some Federalists would surely opt for Dolley Madison. And since we’re now talking first ladies, we must of course consider Nancy.

So, please e-mail me or drop a comment with your nominees in these categories. And if you find a strong Republican woman who doesn’t fit these four categories, include her anyway and tell us why you think she should be nominated.

*If you define diva as I do, a strong, talented woman who commands the respect of men, the goddess Athena may well have been the first diva.