|On the presidential campaign trail
in 1976, I found myself keeping a speaking engagement in the South, and
unexpectedly sharing the podium with a former governor of California. We
were introduced, shook hands, exchanged brief but pleasant remarks and
completed our respective parts of the program.
That was my first meeting with Ronald Reagan.
I'm sure we will be meeting again over the course of the next four years,
and I hope we get to know each other a bit better.
President Reagan is the sixth man to occupy the
White House during my 20 years in Washington. Since 1961, three Democrats
-- John F. Kennedy, Lyndon B. Johnson and Jimmy Carter -- and three Republicans
-- Richard Nixon, Gerald R. Ford and now, Ronald Reagan -- all have sat
in the Oval Office.
Among my proudest possessions are personal letters
from each man, from Kennedy through Carter, usually thanking me for my
help in some endeavor of mutual interest.
I have had political differences with every President,
but these differences have never degenerated to bitterness or hatred. That
kind of poison helps no one, benefits nothing. A good, healthy exchange
of ideas, and a big dash of compromise, can accomplish much, much more.
I have been privileged to have been invited to
the White House by five Presidents since 1961. A couple of times there
were private chats over coffee or lunch. Usually, others were present.
But in either case, the meetings always afforded a change to get things
done for Arizona that otherwise might not have been possible.
A special niche of my memory is reserved for my
meeting with Jack Kennedy. He was the first President to invite me to 1600
Avenue, and a special excitement charged the air in those days of the New
Having been born and raised in the Southwest,
I think I had a better understanding of Lyndon Johnson than many of my
colleagues in those days. His was a time of bright promise that ended with
dashed dreams and bitter divisions all across the country.
I met Richard Nixon on several occasions during
his Presidency and helped him enact major legislation. But Richard Nixon
was not an especially warm person, and I don't know that he had any close
personal friends. At any rate, I wouldn't describe our relationship as
close. But it was always cordial.
Jerry Ford was a different matter. President Ford
was a "man of the House," having spent a good part of his life as a Republican
congressman from Michigan and as the Minority Leader for his party. While
on opposite sides of the aisle in the House of Representatives, we got
to know each other fairly well, sometimes talking or joking with one another.
He was an absolutely dedicated public servant and our friendship continues
During the administration of Jimmy Carter, I talked
with the President often. We once attended a basketball game together,
coming and going in Army One, the presidential helicopter. (We had no trouble
with seats or parking.) President Carter was an intelligent, dedicated
man who wanted to do a good job. Like Lyndon Johnson, he became a victim
* * *
It's my hope that I'll get to know President Reagan
as I have been able to know the other five men who have gone before him
in that tough job. I hope we can work together when we agree and share
honest differences openly and
|frankly when we disagree.
In the weeks and months ahead, President Reagan
will be sending his legislative proposals to Capitol Hill. Congress will
begin the long and laborious task of examining and debating each one, voting
some into law and some out the door.
When I'm convinced this Administration is on the
right track, it will have my support. And when there is disagreement, the
White House will know why.
* * *
A few days after the 1980 election, a Washington
reporter asked me to analyze the results, to tell him what it all meant.
My answer, tongue in cheek, was that the Republicans
got more votes than the Democrats.
But I'm not going to play political analyst in
this limited space. First, I have no magic insights and second, by now,
most Americans have heard or read more election analyses than they either
want or need.
However, I do have a few thoughts on a trend that
we seem to have become locked into. In keeping with the theme of this newsletter,
I have some mental "notes" about this election, and our political process
in general, that I want to share. To begin, let me back up a bit.
We have developed a "national mind-set" about
a couple of aspects of modern politics. The first of these may have begun
with the defeat of my good friend Barry Goldwater, when he ran for President
It was after Senator Goldwater's crushing loss
that there was a rush to write the "political obituary" of the Republican
When George McGovern went down to defeat in 1972,
there was the same rush to write the same obituary for the Democratic Party.
And the obituaries resurfaced when Richard Nixon
was forced to resign the Presidency in 1974. Once again, the Republican
Party was declared dead.
It seems to matter little that history has proved
each obituary to be quite premature. But the "mind-set" persists and every
four years we are treated to it anew.
A more recent development has been the "we're-in-for-trouble-because-we're-doomed-
to-have-a-string-of-one-term-presidents" line. This is based on the fact
that no president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has managed to serve two full
terms in the White House and retire after eight years in a quiet, ordinary
It is true we have gone through this for about
20 years now. But it's also true that in the early days of our country,
the one-term president was more the rule than the exception. Many early
Presidents accepted their nominations as a call to public service. The
thought of campaigning to keep the job for another four years was unthinkable
to most. There was nothing unusual about a president stepping down after
a single term of office.
Some early presidents, in fact, put little stock
in the importance of the Oval Office. Thomas Jefferson directed that his
tombstone at Monticello be engraved with three achievements he considered
his life's greatest accomplishments. Being President of the United States
was not one of the three.
Harry Truman served a part of Franklin Roosevelt's
last term of office. He was elected, on his own, only once. Yet today,
he is among our most respected Presidents, not a man discounted because
he was elected on his own but a single time.