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Henry Bellmon Dies

This is worth reading, even if you never cared about this old time politician. I would say that comparing him to Frank Keating, the next GOP Oklahoma governor, is pretty similar to comparing George Bush, the former President, to his son George Bush Junior. That makes the behavior related in Bellmon’s own memoir particularly ironic.

During the 1990 governor’s campaign, when Bellmon was the incumbent but wasn’t seeking another term, he became “persona non grata” to the Republicans and Democrats.

President George H.W. Bush came to Oklahoma to campaign for Republican candidate Bill Price.

At the Republican rally, Bellmon said he looked across the room and hardly recognized a face.

“There was an obvious generational and philosophical gulf between myself and supporters of the Republican candidate who aspired to take my place and who opposed much of what I had accomplished,” Bellmon wrote. “The room was hot, the acoustics were terrible, and the crowd was uncomofortably jammed together.”

Bellmon, the sitting Republican governor who had been a longtime friend of Bush and had served as his Oklahoma campaign chairman when he ran for president, was not invited to sit on the dais with the dignitaries that day.

“I felt more at home in a crowd of strangers,” he wrote.

Bush mentioned Bellmon favorably in his speech and launched into an attack on Democrats in Congress, who Bellmon mentioned had just helped him pass a deficit reduction measure. Most Republicans in Congress had fought Bush on the measure because it included a tax increase.

“The tongue-lashing seemed inappropriate,” Bellmon wrote. “The hypocrisy and phoniness began to rankle, and the thought struck me that I’d been here too long. It was time to leave, so I did.

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