The Corner

I Love This Item

By Helen Dewar in today’s Washington Post. I was too lazy to dig up the link. I got it out of Nexis:

Democratic presidential candidate Rep. Richard A. Gephardt (Mo.) has often referred to his late father’s union days, back in Missouri, when the future House member was still a boy, and a job driving a milk truck and a strong union helped keep the family afloat.

“My dad was a milk truck driver, a proud member of the Teamsters,” Gephardt said earlier this year while announcing his candidacy. “He always told me his union’s bargaining power made it possible for him to put food on our table.”

It’s a common tic among presidential contenders — emphasizing their ties to “regular people,” underscoring their “up by the bootstraps” stories. And for Gephardt, the anecdote has the added bonus of reminding voters of his long ties to and support for organized labor.

But his brother, it seems, remembers their father’s relationship with his union a little bit differently. In 1999, Donald L. Gephardt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch that their dad “felt like a victim of the system.” He added, “I don’t recall him talking much about the union, about how great it was.”

“He prided himself on being a Republican. He hated [Harry S.] Truman,” the elder brother, dean of the fine arts college at New Jersey’s Rowan University, told the paper. “He had the feeling that you had to make it on your own — that any kind of welfare program would just raise his taxes.”

Who has the better memory?

A spokeswoman for the candidate said Gephardt stands by his version, saying he was not commenting on his father’s opinion of his job or union, but on the benefits it provided him. “Don sees it as one thing, and Dick sees it as another,” said spokeswoman Kim Molstre.

Jonah Goldberg — Jonah Goldberg holds the Asness Chair in Applied Liberty at the American Enterprise Institute and is a senior editor of National Review. His new book, The Suicide of The West, is on sale now.

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