Saturday, April 24, 2021

The Life And Legacy Of Walter Mondale

 Saturday April 24th, 2021

My Dear America:

Minnesota is a state that has produced some really Outstanding Politicians.  Some of those Minnesota Politicians were considered Eccentric and Unusual.  Governor Jesse Ventura and Senator Paul Wellstone were certainly out of the ordinary Politicians.  Although he was not ultimately successful in his pursuit of the Presidency, Minnesota Senator Eugene McCarthy set the 1968 Presidential Race into a tailspin.  His successful entry into the Democratic Party Primary Race for the Presidency resulted in Lyndon Johnson abandoning the race, Bobby Kennedy getting into the race and eventually being assassinated in California on the verge of the 1968 Democratic Convention and another Minnesota Politician, Hubert H. Humphrey eventually becoming the  1968 Democratic Party Presidential Candidate eventually being beaten by Republican Party Candidate, Richard Nixon. 

Hubert Humphrey was, in my estimation, one of the most outstanding Liberal-Progressive American Politicians of all time.  He had an important role in implementing much of the important legislation responsible for Social Welfare Benefits, Civil Rights and Fair Employment Protection which continue to protect Americans today. 

While Walter Mondale became an accomplished Democratic Politician on his own in Minnesota Politics, the fact that Hubert Humphrey was a personal friend, as well as Mentor to Mondale was certainly beneficial to Mondale's Political Career.

When Hubert Humphrey was elected Vice President to Lyndon Johnson and his Senate seat opened up, Humphrey advocated that Mondale be appointed to fill his seat.  Since Mondale had some significant experience in Minnesota Politics and Humphrey was in his corner Mondale got the nod.  

During Mondale's Senate Career, unlike Humphrey who was an unabashed and unashamed Liberal Politician all his life, Mondale recognized that he might be a more successful politician if he maintained a more Centrist position in the Senate and he did so, although he was a strong advocate for Civil Rights.  Although Mondale initially supported the War in Vietnam, Like many Democrats his support for that war faded over time.

When Senator George McGovern ran for President against Richard Nixon in 1972 he asked Walter Mondale to be his Vice President but Mondale turned him down.  Mondale had been advised by his mentor, Hubert Humphrey what the realities were with regard to being Vice President to President Johnson.  Humphrey had advised Mondale that it was largely a ceremonial job with little or no power and little or no appreciation from anyone, especially the President.

In 1976 when Jimmy Carter came out of Georgia to win the Democratic Party Nomination he talked with Walter Mondale about being his Vice President.  Mondale advised Carter that if he accepted the Vice Presidency that he would expect to actually be Carter's Political Partner and be involved in all aspects of the Presidency.  Jimmy Carter agreed to Mondale's request and the two were elected and for the most part had a positive and productive Presidential and Vice Presidential Partnership.  

Unfortunately in 1980 when Carter and Mondale Ran for Re Election the Iran Hostage Crisis had soured the country on Carter and the Carter-Mondale ticket failed to win a second term.  

While few knew it at the time Ronald Reagan's Campaign Manager and eventual CIA Director, William Casey, had reportedly made a deal with the Iran Government behind Carter's back to provide guns to the Iranians in exchange for their releasing the American Hostages that Carter had been unsuccessful in getting released.  Oddly enough the Iranian's released the American Hostages on the day of Ronald Reagan's Inauguration.

In 1984 Walter Mondale was once again on the Democratic Ticket, This time running for the Presidency.  His Vice Presidential choice was Geraldine Ferraro, a spunky and talented New York Congresswoman, whose choice had been suggested by Speaker of the House "Tip" O'Neill.  Mondale and Ferraro lost the Presidential Contest but Mondale's choice of Ferraro for the National Ticket had shown that Women had totally arrived in National Politics.

Walter Mondale went back to Minnesota after his 1984 defeat and although he kept a low profile he still kept his hands in politics.  Senator Amy Klobuchar, whose first job was as an intern with Mondale when he was Vice President, would credit him with being a Mentor and a Friend and someone who she would miss terribly following his passing.

Many people in Minnesota and elsewhere in the United States will Miss Walter Mondale.  He was an institution in his state and unlike many politicians these days, he was loved by almost everyone.  Walter Mondale was the kind of Centrist Politician that used to be the norm.  He was a throwback to another era when Politicians respected and admired each other even when the other person was of a different party and had different views.  We were all lucky to have him for a little while and we will all miss him and politicians like him terribly in the coming years. 

Sincerely Yours

Jerry Gallagher

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