December 09, 2003

Senator Simon Dies

One-time presidential candidate and former Illinois Senator Paul Simon has passed away.

I lived in Illinois for most of my childhood (and most of my life), and Senator Simon ran for president when I was in eighth grade. That election helped elevate my interest in politics and history.

Simon was a bespectacled, slightly rumpled man with a strong reputation for honesty, a politician who began disclosing his personal finances in the 1950s. He had the sober, straight-laced bearing of a Sunday school teacher and wrote 13 books.

Simon blended fiscal conservatism and social liberalism. Raised during the Depression, the son of a Lutheran minister, he saw the great needs facing the country and how government responded through New Deal programs.

"Government is not the enemy," he said in 1988. "Government is simply a tool that can be used wisely or unwisely. We can do better, my friends."

He always seemed like a very nice man. Not sure how many other politicians I can say that about.

Posted by Jennifer at December 9, 2003 03:53 PM


I remember him from a gag on Saturday Night Live when the singer Paul Simon was the musical (or main) guest and the Senator showed up thinking it was him that was invited. At least that was the gag, and funny to a young child such as I was back then.

Posted by: Jeff at December 10, 2003 01:41 PM

My only Sen. Paul Simon memory is SNL related too.

Al Franken portraying him in a skit and drawling, "Why...the bowtie?"

Posted by: Ed at December 10, 2003 02:53 PM

My most vivid memory of Paul (though I remember the "bowtie" Franken and many more) was his conclusion after the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings. He said something like:
"Many said that the benefit of the doubt should go to Thomas, but, I say the benefit should go to the Court."

I have the highest regard for Clarence Thomas as a Constitutional justice, but Simon always had a way of gently challenging partisan blather.
His kind of Democrat is, untimely, a dying breed.

Posted by: Tuning Spork at December 10, 2003 11:11 PM