Flashbacks: The Good Humor of Walter Mondale

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Posted: Apr 20, 2021 1:30 PM

Former Vice President and Democratic presidential nominee Walter Mondale died at the age of 93 on Monday, touching off a flurry of tributes.  Many former colleagues from both sides of the aisle, as well as those who covered his career, are attesting to his character as a person and a gentleman.  The stalwart liberal is being hailed as kind, humble, down-to-earth and winsome, which aren't always common characteristics among politicians.  Analyst Brit Hume, who for years was a network news correspondent before joining Fox News, said Mondale was a "great guy" whom he held in the "highest regard:"


Several well-known examples of Mondale's good nature come to mind.  For instance, as Jimmy Carter's Vice President, he was tasked under the Constitution with presiding over the electoral college vote count after the 1980 election.  Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush had won it running away, and as Mondale announces his own paltry electoral vote total, the House chamber erupted in laughter and members gave him a standing ovation as he smiled broadly.  Amid the applause, he offered some amusing quips:


New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof calls this "a wonderful clip that captures Fritz Mondale's graciousness and humor."  In the following election cycle, Mondale was nominated by his party to try to beat Reagan, and he did -- at the first presidential debate.  Reagan was famously discombobulated and sluggish, raising questions about his preparedness and acuity.  In the next debate, Reagan famously recovered, bringing down the house with a self-deprecating joke that made even Mondale burst out laughing:


Weeks later, Reagan defeated Mondale in a rout, winning 49 states.  Having been crushed in every state except his native Minnesota (which he carried over Reagan by a fraction of a percentage point), Mondale gave a gracious and uplifting concession speech in the face of a lop-sided loss:

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I'll leave you with this incredible thread from a Democratic operative who worked for Mondale, which you won't regret reading.  Here's how it begins:


Condolences to the Mondale family.  Rest in peace.