Giving George McGovern His Due

(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)
(Warren Rojas/CQ Roll Call)
Posted July 20, 2012 at 4:05pm

It was a bipartisan love fest last night at the Newseum, as Members from both chambers and both parties gathered to celebrate the 90th birthday of one-time presidential candidate and adamant anti-hunger advocate George McGovern.

Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), John Thune (R-S.D.), Tom Harkin (D-Iowa), as well as House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Reps. Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Barney Frank (D-Mass.), Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Jim McGovern (D-Mass.) were all on hand for the collegial bash, along with members of George McGovern’s extended family and a slew of silver-haired well-wishers.

McGovern made time for anyone who approached his table, reminiscing with long-time acquaintances or charming newcomers to his orbit as the opportunity presented itself.

“I know this is probably a faux pas, but I read the guest of honor’s bio on the way here. Pretty impressive,” we overheard one GOP aide sheepishly confess to a drinking buddy.

Once the fete got into full swing, the toasts started flowing.

Pelosi reminisced about McGovern’s 1972 presidential campaign and how it opened her eyes to the power of progressive ideals. “You taught me just how liberal my parents really were. Even they didn’t know,” she quipped.

Durbin showered McGovern with plaudits (“my hero,” “clarion voice”), asserting that he “learned politics” by working on the nonagenarian’s seminal 1972 bid for the Oval Office. “I’ve always been proud to be in your corner,” Durbin gushed.

Harkin went right for the throat. “I like these gatherings. You get a little wine. Too bad you’re a Methodist, George,” he teased.

Jim McGovern needled attendees about all the misdirected congratulations. “Thank you to everyone who has told to me they support my father. My father’s name is Walter and he owns a liquor store in Wisconsin,” he quipped.

Some folks were feeling less festive than others.

“They want a selfish country, is what they want,” one gentleman complained about presumptive GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s campaign.

Then there were those who couldn’t help but enjoy the magical evening: