We met George McGovern in San Diego for lunch one day after his speech to an industry group. It was a very comfortable conversation with a man with whom we had no political agreement but much respect.
Bill Buckley regarded McGovern an honest sparring partner. Barry Goldwater described Senator McGovern as a gracious friend worthy of real admiration.
This peaceful fellow, who dedicated his life to the avoidance of war, was a veteran. Initially trained as a fighter pilot, his combat missions in southern Europe were in B-17 bombers. Over the course of 35 combat missions, he earned both a DFC and Air Medal, and was very much a real war hero.
His politics, of course, were abysmally liberal, but argued with grace and conviction and honesty. He was not in the battle for power or self-aggrandizement, but to do right as he saw it.
After leaving political life, he and his wife opened a 150-bed inn in Connecticut, which failed. While he blamed the economy as the primary problem and mentioned his lack of experience, he also later wrote,
"I ... wish that during the years I was in public office I had had this firsthand experience about the difficulties business people face every day. That knowledge would have made me a better U.S. senator and a more understanding presidential contender."In hindsight I've come to believe that the nation would have been better off electing this honest liberal President in 1972 rather than the crooked fellow for whom I voted.
George McGovern, RIP and to his family, regret for your loss… and ours.