George McGovern, the man who never gave up

Discussion in 'Politics' started by Bfgrn, Oct 30, 2012.

  1. Bfgrn
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    Bfgrn Gold Member

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    Ironic, the last Republican Presidential candidate I voted for was Bob Dole. And the first Presidential candidate I worked for was George McGovern. Two honorable men with much more in common than differences.

    George McGovern, the man who never gave up

    By Bob Dole

    Excerpts:

    Bob Dole, a Republican from Kansas, was the Senate majority leader from 1985 to 1987 and 1995 to 1996 and the Republican nominee for president in 1996.

    When I learned that George McGovern was nearing the end of his remarkable life, I couldn’t help but think back to the day in June 1993 when both of us attended the funeral of former first lady Pat Nixon, in Yorba Linda, Calif. After the service, George was asked by a reporter why he should honor the wife of the man whose alleged dirty tricks had kept him out of the White House. He replied, “You can’t keep on campaigning forever.”

    That classy remark was typical of George, a true gentleman who was one of the finest public servants I had the privilege to know.

    Both of us were guided by the values we learned growing up in the plains of the Midwest — he in Mitchell, S.D., and me in Russell, Kan. Our lives were also transformed by the experience of wearing the uniform of our country during World War II.

    We would both come to understand that our most important commonality — the one that would unite us during and after our service on Capitol Hill — was our shared desire to eliminate hunger in this country and around the world. As colleagues in the 1970s on the Senate Hunger and Human Needs Committee, we worked together to reform the Food Stamp Program, expand the domestic school lunch program and establish the Special Supplemental Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

    More than a quarter-century later, with political ambitions long behind us, we joined together again. Soon after President Bill Clinton named George ambassador to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization in 1998, he called to ask for my help in strengthening global school feeding, nutrition and education programs. We jointly proposed a program to provide poor children with meals at schools in countries throughout Africa, Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe. In 2000, President Clinton authorized a two-year pilot program based on our proposal, and in 2002, Congress passed and President George W. Bush signed into law the McGovern-Dole International Food for Education and Child Nutrition Program. Since its inception, the program has provided meals to 22 million children in 41 countries.

    In 2008, George and I were humbled to be named the co-recipients of the World Food Prize. As we were called on stage to accept the award, we once again reached across the aisle, walking to the podium literally arm-in-arm. I began my acceptance remarks by saying that “The good news is that we finally won something. It proves that you should never give up.”

    There can be no doubt that throughout his half-century career in the public arena, George McGovern never gave up on his principles or in his determination to call our nation to a higher plain. America and the world are for the better because of him.


    "I believe you farmers can do more than any other Americans to strengthen our position in the world if we recognize that food is health, food is strength, food is peace."
    George S. McGovern
     
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    "I believe you farmers can do more than any other Americans to strengthen our position in the world if we recognize that food is health, food is strength, food is peace."
    George S. McGovern

    Food for Peace

    In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed what was then known as the Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, or Public Law 480. In 1961, the law got another name when President Kennedy expanded the program and renamed it "Food for Peace."

    JFK set out the logic for the program saying, "Food is strength, and food is peace, and food is freedom, and food is a helping to people around the world whose good will and friendship we want."

    President Kennedy's words, sure sound a lot like George McGovern...here's why...

    JFK thought he 'cost me that election'

    by George McGovern

    In October of 1960 Vice President Richard Nixon and Senator John Kennedy were invited to speak at the National Corn Picking contest near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The two presidential candidates, Nixon for the Republicans and Kennedy for the Democrats — each knew this was not an invitation a Presidential candidate did not reject.

    And audience of 10,000 farmers from 9 or 10 farm states was anticipated. I had decided in that the year to give up my seat in the US House of Representatives to seek election to the U.S. Senate. My opponent was long time Republican US Senator Karl Mundt.

    The sponsors of the Corn Picking event had arranged for Mr. Nixon to be introduced by Senator Mundt. I was to introduce Senator Kennedy.

    Both Nixon and Mundt were familiar with agricultural issues. Both did well in meeting head on the central concerns of farmers.

    Later in the day when it was Kennedy's time to speak the South Dakota weather had worsened. It was raining, the temperature had dropped and the wind was blowing hard.

    I knew that Kennedy had little experience with agriculture except for the cranberries of Massachusetts. Someone had written a speech for him that bombed out. He struggled with the rain, the cold and the wind.

    After we got on his plane at the Sioux Falls airport to fly to my hometown at Mitchell, where he was to address another large audience at the Corn Palace, he said "George, I just bombed out. What do you think I should do at the Corn Palace?"

    "I think, Jack that you should get rid of that speech. It's no good anyway. Just walk out on stage and say: I disagree with Secretary of Agriculture Ezra Taft Benson who tells us that farm surpluses are the basic problem of agriculture. I believe the abundant production of our farmers is a great national treasure. I believe you farmers can do more than any other Americans to strengthen our position in the world if we recognize that food is health, food is strength, food is peace.

    If I'm elected president I'm going to appoint a new Food for Peace Director, put his office in the White House, and order him to use our farm surpluses to reduce hunger in the world. "

    On Election Day, I lost South Dakota by one percent in my Senate race with Karl Mundt. President Kennedy was overwhelmed in South Dakota but he was elected nationally by the incredibly narrow margin of 120,000 votes.

    On Friday evening after the election, I was of course cheered by President Kennedy's victory but saddened by my own defeat. Eleanor and I were having dinner with some South Dakota friends when the phone rang. "George, this is Jack Kennedy. I'm sorry I cost you that election."

    "Jack, you didn't cost me that election. The voters did." "No, Bobby told me what happened. Before you make any plans, please come to see me." He said.

    Within a short time he named me the nation's first White House Food for Peace Director.

    We tripled the amount of farm surpluses going abroad to hungry nations. India alone received 4 million tons of grain annually. We set up school lunch programs abroad — in scores of poor nations. We set up food for wages programs to build roads, schools, clinics in which workers received half of their wages in kind and the remainder in cash.

    Eleanor always thought this was the best job I ever had. If so, I think it began in October 1960, in a conversation at the National Corn Picking contest and the world's only Corn Palace.

    George McGovern was the Democratic nominee for president in 1972. He was the first director of President Kennedy's Food for Peace Program.

    George McGovern: JFK thought he 'cost me that election' - USATODAY.com
     

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