Friday, January 02, 2009

Senator Claiborne Pell, RIP

My recollection isn’t very keen these days, but I too have a “story” about the now deceased Senator Claiborne Pell from Rhode Island. I recall his visiting the University of Rhode Island in those not so halcyon days of the 70's surrounded by an entourage of Left and liberal leaning students and aides. He was a conventional Democrat from a Democrat ruled US Senate who was highly revered particularly in education circles due to  his now famous Pell grants for poorer college students, among which I was one at the time.

Ingrate that I was, I headed up the college Republicans at that time, and considered it a duty (correction: a delight) to cause him some trouble – but there was no way for me to accomplish this with ease. So I accosted him outside one of the dining halls with a question or two about some inconsistency in his voting record, I think, on the war in Vietnam, and he politely asked me to “send” him “a post card,” and one of his aides would send me the facts and figures. A pretty good and fast put down. 

I was none too pleased with that answer, of course, and on another occasion, an entourage of my right leaning buddies showed up at Edwards auditorium to accost him again. We were lined up pretty much in the last few rows, and one of my close friends hollered out him a question which wasn’t heard too well from the front stage. My friend retorted, “I SAID…” which sounded more like a scold than a question, and we were all the more gratified at the jeering and heckling that ensued.

But Senator Pell was a worthy representative of the other cause; a man well bred in culture and education, and who appeared to have been, at the time, much better mannered, conscientious and, yes, even honorable than most US Senators of his day, but particularly US Senators of these more recent days.

We wish him a safe journey to the other side of the Jordan.

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