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Tuesday, November 30, 2021
Editor’s NotebookEditor’s Notebook: You think Harry cared what they thought? Nah.

Editor’s Notebook: You think Harry cared what they thought? Nah.

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Here’s one from the archives of the Northern Virginia Sun edition of Oct. 24, 1944.

An article reported that national Democrats were grumbling that U.S. Sen. Harry Byrd was hurting President Roosevelt’s re-election prospects by not coming out and supporting him.

The conservative Democratic senator was not a fan of the incumbent president, and probably was equally irked that FDR had not followed tradition and called it a day after two terms in office, let alone three. So Byrd was, effectively, sitting this one out.

As to what the unnamed “national Democrats” – including and up to, one presumes, Roosevelt himself – thought, one finds it hard to think the senator really cared. Byrd already by 1944 already had established himself as a Capitol Hill potentate, with his power growing and growing as years and decades rolled on.

There’s a line in a book about John Kennedy that relates, in the week prior to JFK’s fateful trip to Dallas, how the president and his aides were trying to placate Byrd (by then the uber-powerful Senate Finance Committee chair) and get the president’s budget proposal pared down to a number Byrd could support.

One of the younger presidential aides, disgusted that they had to pander to him, said to another: “Why don’t we just go around Harry Byrd?”

To which the older, wiser aide replied: “Nobody goes AROUND Harry Byrd.”

No, they did not.

A NUCLEAR STRIKE WILL WIPE THE WEATHER COVERAGE RIGHT OFF THE FRONT PAGE: Also dipping into the archives, here’s some news coverage from Oct. 24, 1962.

The front page of the Sun noted that the first frost of the season was expected across Virginia that night, but not to worry, warmer days were ahead.

Maybe a whole lot warmer: The same edition also reported in a blaring front-page headline that it looked like the U.S. and the Russkies were about to go to war over what would go down in history as the Cuban Missile Crisis.

(Not to be confused with the “Cuban Sandwich Crisis,” which I faced once when a restaurant in Tampa, where the best Cuban sandwiches anywhere are made, did not have them available during my visit. You would understand the trauma if you’d ever had a Cuban made in Tampa…)

UNRELATED TO ANYTHING: Sticking with the dip-into-the-archives theme, here’s an item from the Oct. 29, 1968, edition of the Northern Virginia Sun.

With the days ticking down to Election Day and the presidential race still very much in flux, GOP vice-presidential nominee Spiro Agnew had made a campaign swing across Virginia in the preceding days.

Which reminds me of the time, many years later, when as a young kid I was with my family at a spring-training baseball game in St. Petersburg, Fla., where the third-base coach of the Cincinnati Reds was Russ Nixon.

A fan who had a little too much to drink (even though it was midday and about 90 degrees out) kept razzing Russ Nixon with anti-Richard Nixon sayings, at one point saying, “Where’s your buddy Spiro?”

And then the boozy fan decided it would be a bright idea to get past us (we were in seats a couple of rows up from the third-base dugout) and jump onto the field in an attempt to get to Russ Nixon.

He didn’t make it far before he was clobbered by one of the Reds players, protecting his coach.

– Scott McCaffrey

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