While the bickering and political posturing was nothing like it is now, in the 1980’s, Senator Abdnor often sat in the Senate chambers with Senator Paul Tsongas (D-MA) and they lamented the bickering. Because they both had speech impediments, I sometimes wondered if that was the original genesis of their close relationship. But, more likely is the father* of Senator Tsongas’ wife, Niki, was from South Dakota who was definitely one of Jim’s favorite wife of a fellow Senator as they hugged each other with too much genuine affection for it to be anything but sincere.
Anyway one night during an all night session the partisanship was even more rancorous than normal and Tsongas turned to Jim and said, “Let’s start our own party. It can be the party that listens to the people, listens to the facts, and doesn’t speak until we’ve learned all we can. He (referring to the Democrat speaking on the floor) doesn’t know what he is talking about.”
Jim said, “Well what about abortion? (they held diametrically opposing positions)” and Tsongas said “We are going to be the party that doesn’t’ have to agree on anything but its members are open-minded and listen.” I wish I could remember how the conversation ended and Jim’s response. So many half memories.
Why do I bring this up? US Representative Niki Tsongas just announced she is not running for re-election. I’m pretty sure there are very few issues upon which I agree with Mrs. Tsongas but I remember her fondly. Our system needs people like her. Decent people can disagree without being disagreeable.
* Anyone who knew Jim, know he loved athletics and of course Jim knew Niki’s father was an All-North Central Conference guard during his time at SDSU. I was there when Jim told her and, she remarked it was something she didn’t know about her father and asked Jim if he was sure. Jim was sure because it was an SDSU team during his high school years and Jim could name their other good players. Why do I remember this and not the rest the aforementioned conversation?