The secret to a long, good life, says Minnesota Gov. Al Quie, is to love and to know you are loved by someone.
With that love comes the need for forgiveness — and the ability to forgive. Oh, yeah, plus horseback riding. Keeps you supple.
Quie was celebrating his 85th birthday yesterday on MPR's Midday.
Actually, others were celebrating Quie.
It was clear from the call ins the governor was loved by more than his wife of 60 years, but those calls were to be expected. The ones I heard sounded orchestrated, a sort of This Is Your Life series of recollections, rather than the typical Midday questions and challenges from listeners.
That's fine, but I wanted to hear more from this thoughtful Republican Governor who had the courage to raise taxes. Who was a strong advocate for education during his 21 years in Congress. Who ordered reform in the way judges are selected because he knew the legislature was too invested in the power over appointments to pass a reform law. Who was a friend of Gerry Ford but thought he was wrong to pardon Richard Nixon, saying an impeachment trial would have been a good check on the imperial presidency.
Who repeatedly invokes his relationship with god, yet doesn't creep me out like others of god's warriors in the public sector do.
Who offered to serve the remainder of Watergate felon Chuck Colson's term after declining to intercede with Ford and ask for a pardon. Quie disarmingly explained his offer, exposing the complex thought processes going on behind his sometimes simple demeanor.
Ford would never get re-elected if he pardoned another one of the Watergate conspirators, Quie reasoned. But with the political calculation came another. What was his Christian obligation to help his friend Colson, who was experiencing anguish over being blamed by his mother for causing his father's death, and guilt over a son who was having drug problems while Colson was in prison?
Quie remembered a conversation with a staffer about a law that permitted someone to serve another's sentence, and he decided to make that offer to Colson. Without telling anyone, he made a call to Colson's lawyer. Quie was sincere but admitted he hoped C0lson would not accept.
Colson did refuse, and Quie said he realized he was wrong in presuming to do God's work. Within the week, the courts cut Colson's sentence.
I met the governor only once, across the table at the State Board of Pardons when I was appearing as the character witness for a friend seeking a Pardon Extraordinary.
The forgiving governor has grown on me ever since.