LIt’s not often one gets to break bread with a former U.S. Senator, but The Sheet caught up with Sen. Rudy Boschwitz (R-Minn.) and his wife of 63 years, Ellen, at Bishop Country Club’s 19th Hole Bar and Grill on Wednesday.
Boschwitz served in the U.S. Senate from 1978-1991. He was later appointed in 2005 by George W. Bush as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Commission on Human Rights.
Boschwitz spent Tuesday evening at Furnace Creek and was headed to Napa to attend a wedding this weekend.
When he arrived, he spread a whole bunch of highway maps on the table, which I found endearing.
Former Senator Majority Leader and Republican Presidential nominee Bob Dole used to refer to Boschwitz as his favorite fellow senator, because Boschwitz was not born in the United States, and therefore not eligible to run for President.
That made him just about the only senator Dole could trust, since Boschwitz didn’t and couldn’t have greater political aspirations.
Boschwitz was born in Berlin, Germany in 1930. His family fled Nazi Germany in the summer of 1933, ultimately settling in New York state.
Though he obtained a law degree from New York University, Boschwitz made his mark as an entrepreneur, founding the Plywood Minnesota company in Minneapolis (he had initially headed west to join his brother in Wisconsin). Within 15 years, the company had 68 warehouse stores in eight states.
When I asked Boschwitz about the partisanship and lack of civility these days in Washington, Boschwitz advised to not spend too much time worrying about it.
Partisanship is cyclical in nature, he said. And he predicted a leader (or leaders) would come along who would break the cycle.
Which is a very similar philosophy to that of my father. Not a huge surprise since they were born two days apart, and my father is a Minneapolis native.
About the only investing advice my father ever gave was this: Look for beaten-down companies with a solid core business. Eventually, some smart guy or gal will come along and turn it around.
Is it so far off-base to characterize America as a beaten-down company with a solid core business?
Boschwitz just hopes Americans will turn away from the siren call of socialists cropping up these days to fill the void.
Boschwitz is a huge believer in America. In fact, there’s a lecture he gave posted from last March at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. titled “Magnificent America.”
And what’s great is that his wife handles the PowerPoint slides while he lectures. He calls her “Mom.” They had four sons, though the eldest, Gerry, died last December at the age of 60.
In his lecture, which has a total of 44 Youtube views (It should have a million and forty-four. Such a simple and elegant history lesson), Sen. Boschwitz references President Lincoln’s advice to General Godfrey Weitzel, who asked for advice on how to treat the citizens of recently captured Richmond, Virginia.
And Lincoln’s reply was to “Let ‘em up easy.”
And Boschwitz also referenced Churchill’s admonition to be magnanimous in victory.
He calls the Marshall Plan adopted after World War II “one of history’s most unselfish acts” and credits the long peace since (74 years without a war fought between major powers) to America’s commitment to rebuild friend and foe alike. In today’s dollars, America’s Marshall Plan investment would be $250 billion, says Boschwitz.
Sen. Boschwitz remains as disarmingly unpretentious as ever. As President Reagan once remarked, “Rudy’s the man who made the flannel shirt famous in Washington.”
What does Rudy Boschwitz think of President Trump? He said he liked a lot of the things the President was doing (particularly the President’s recognition of Israel’s claim to the Golan Heights, captured during the Six Day War of 1967) and tiptoed around the rest.
That was probably the most interesting position Boschwitz took during our lunch.
On the one hand, there’s the “Let ‘Em Up Easy” philosophy he espoused. On the other hand, this was his take on the Golan Heights: “Aggressors can’t be restored to pre-aggression [territorial] lines.” Which I took to mean, picking a losing fight should at least leave one with a bloody nose.