April 23, 2008

Liquored Compromise

In a recent interview, a former Chiles staffer told me about a story he used to tell as an example of the art of compromise in politics and life. The staffer wasn't sure but speculated that Huey Long coined the quote. I just discovered that Florida Governor Fuller Warren uttered the words during his successful campaign for governor in 1948:

If you mean the demon drink that poisons the mind, pollutes the body, desecrates family life, and inflames sinners, then I'm against it. But if you mean the elixir of Christmas cheer, the shield against winter chill, and taxable potion that puts needed funds into public coffers to comfort little crippled children, then I'm for it. This is my position, and I will not compromise.

Lawton Chiles and the rest of his household in Lakeland admired Governor Warren as a worthy successor to their Polk County hero Spessard Holland.

As a U.S. Senator, Chiles retold the story, with his own embellishments and twists, when interested parties needed to see two or three sides to complex issues like the Panama Canal Treaty, the Bork nomination, and the Reagan budgets.

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