by Dick Stewart
MUSKIE ALWAYS INSISTED that I keep my golf clubs on the airplane [during the 1972 presidential campaign]. Many mornings the phone in my room would ring and Charlie Lander would say, "The boss wants you to have breakfast with us. You're going to play golf with him this afternoon. "
Muskie was not a very good golfer. A terrible thing happened to him the first year he played. He got a hole in one. It apparently convinced him he could master the game. The first time I played with him I got up on the first tee and smacked a drive long and straight down the middle. He looked at me with a smile and said, "Your not spending enough time with campaign work."
One of his excuses for hitting those huge hooks was the constant requirement to shake all those hands. "My right hand is stronger than my left and it overpowers the club. It's from shaking all those hands."
Thanks to Muskie, I got to play many of the finest golf courses in the country and never paid a greens fee. One of the perks of presidential politics.
IT SEEMED TO ME that Muskie always kept a part of himself very private. You could not always be sure what he was thinking or how he felt about things. Riding in the car beside him or on an airplane with him, there were protracted periods of silence. For some inexplicable reason I knew not to intrude on this private time.
But because I was nearly constantly in his company when we were traveling, there were moments when I got glimpses of his private persona.
I recall one morning having breakfast with him and Charlie Lander in a hotel in Portland, Oregon. He was watching television news footage of the riots at the prison in Attica, New York. He watched without comment for a long time.
When it was over he seemed troubled by what he had seen and he said, almost to himself, "The human condition never seems to improve." It was the note of sadness and caring in his voice that touched me to the point that I remember his exact words even today.
Copyright ©2000, The Edmund S. Muskie Foundation. All Rights Reserved.