Announced today, and covered nationally – George McGovern is near death and is unresponsive.

Just last Saturday night, my wife and I attended the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra, in which they did “A Lincoln Portrait” (A. Copland), in which McGovern was the narrator. I was at first concerned – how could a 90 year old man stand and do a 20 minute narration in synchrony with the orchestra? But the conductor, Delta David Geier (a friend of mine, since I sing in the South Dakota Symphony Chorus), is clever – he recorded George, and thus George did not have the ordeal of standing for 20 minutes. Instead, he spoke briefly to the crowd for a moment, and I thought he did ramble a bit when he did speak. Republicans and Democrats joined in a standing ovation following his impromptu remarks. He then sat down, and the orchestra began playing this very moving and stirringly patriotic piece. The reading was good, very good. George wrote a Lincoln biography among his 25 books, so he is a scholar on the matter of Lincoln.

I have met him perhaps 6-7 times since arriving in SD in 2009. SD is a small state, so if you are interested in politics, you can move into town, and 5 days later, have a 20 minute conversation with Tim Johnson for the contribution of $50. In IL, talking to Dick Durbin is much more expensive. SD though is a cheap state to do politics in.

I went to George McGovern’s 90th birthday party. The guy was (6 months ago) still quite witty. He spoke, and said, “I’m 90, and I’m glad to be here. When you are 90, you are glad to be pretty much anywhere.” I spoke to him, and everyone at the party got a minute with him. A gracious man, a hard worker, a tenacious campaigner, and a man who strongly believed in the Democratic Party.

About a year ago, my brother-in-law (a well-known engineer in the solar energy area) was the head speaker at George’s annual conference. We met him there, and got a picture with my wife and George.

George is much-beloved in SD, and his passing, which appears to imminent, will be a sad occasion. George is the reason we have Tom Daschle, Tim Johnson, and had Stephanie Herseth-Sandlin.

I too believe in the Democratic Party. So, watch this space, my friends.

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