Saturday, August 23, 2008

Joe, Strom and Jesse

Republicans were quick to attack Barack Obama's choice of Joe Biden as his running mate today, just as Biden jumped into his role of partisan attack dog during a speech in Springfield, Illinois.

But the Delaware senator, after three decades in the Senate, learned to get along with even those Republican colleagues he disagreed with so vehemently, including two from the Carolinas.

In 2003, Biden delivered a eulogy at the Columbia funeral of longtime GOP Sen. and one-time segregationist Strom Thurmond.

"I disagreed deeply with Strom on the issue of civil rights and on many other issues, but I watched him change. We became good friends; I'm not sure exactly how or why it happened. I grew to know him. I learned from him, and I watched him change, oh so subtly.

"Like all of us, he started off as a product of his time. But he understood people; he cared for them. He knew how to read people, how to move them, how to get things done."

Last October, I covered an appearance by Biden in Rock Hill. It was during the senator's own short-lived presidential campaign. When the crowd was gone, he came up to me, the only N.C. reporter there.

"Tell me one thing," he said, putting a hand on my shoulder. "How's Jesse?"

Like Thurmond, Jesse Helms was Biden's polar opposite in so many ways. But that didn't stop the two men, colleagues on the foreign relations committee, from sharing a mutual respect.

Last month, Biden was one of a handful of prominent Democrats at Helms' funeral in Raleigh.


Anonymous said...

It is a fervent hope of mine that politics treaetmenat of our fellow people can reach this level of interaction. Its OK to disagree; it is in our nature. But to be able to share a respect with a political adversary, and to still see him/ her as a fellow human, requires a great degree of personal insight. My hats off, to all the men mentioned in the story.

Anonymous said...

I am so proud! I can now look at my sons with hope and a feeling that maybe something will be left for them in this country after all ! Now the hard work. Courage: That is what it will take for us to come together in November. It takes courage to embrace change. Obama is the choice. Even if you are a die hard republican, you have to admit that Obama's plan is the only one that makes sense. McCain is not concerned about the poor. According to McCain, that's most of us who are not worth 5 Million. Forget about you friends and neigbors. Do the right thing for yourself! Do the right thing for your kids! Have the courage to take back America. Vote Obama - YES YOU CAN !