Former presidential speechwriter James Humes, who assisted Gerald Ford in his presidential biography “A Time to Heal,” reflects on the passing of Gen. Alexander M. Haig Jr.
Humes' comments follow:
At a time when these words are used loosely, Al Haig was a christian, patriot and gentleman.
As president of the Ends of the Earth Society, the oldest Anglo-American mlitary group, with branches in London as well as New York, I came to know him. [He was] a member of the New York Society, which he occasionally attended in later years.
The Society was founded in 1898 when the British helped an American battleship, thus beginning the military mutual assistance. Its heroes were Haig's heroes: Winston Churchill and Gen. Douglas MacArthur.
Like these statesmen, Al Haig was brutally honest and outspoken in his views. He deemed President Nixon the greatest president since World War II. His esteem was minimal for George H.W. Bush and his secretary of state, James Baker.
The "C.Y.A.” (Cover Your Ass) State Department was equally deserving of his contempt.
When the State Department recommended siding with Argentina, Haig gave support to Margaret Thatcher. He told me, as Margaret later told me, "consensus is a synonym for cowardice." He had similar contempt for leaders who "governed by the Gallup poll." Quoting Churchill, "Nothing is more dangerous than always feeling one's pulse and taking one's temperature."
Al was disgusted when [President Barack] Obama shipped back the bust of Churchill given by the British people to the American people. At the annual meeting in 2001, Haig mentioned that the only time the queen ever sang a national anthem as monarch was the Star-Spangled Banner at the memorial service for those killed on 9/11.
Margaret Thatcher would never say to Al Haig as she said to George H.W. Bush in 1990, "Now, George, don't go wobbly on us."
We all know the words of Vince Lombardi, "Winning isn't everything; it's the only thing."
It was Haig who told me that Vince got that from MacArthur when he was line coach for West Point. Al Haig was a winner on the field and off.
To quote Shakespeare, "Farewell, honest soldier."
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