ON THE PASSING OF EUGENE MCCARTHY -- (Senate - December 21, 2005)
Mr. OBAMA. Mr. President, I rise today to honor the memory of Senator Eugene McCarthy, who passed away earlier this month.
I did not have the pleasure of knowing him. But I know how powerful and stirring he was--a man who was not afraid to speak the truth. A man who, in 1968, had already resided in the corridors of power for nearly 20 years, but had not been corrupted by them.
Accomplished and beloved by his constituents, Senator McCarthy could have rested on his laurels and kept his views to himself; he could have toed the line in the name of unity and loyalty to the president.
But that was not in Senator McCarthy's character. There is something about Minnesota that produces people and politicians who care more about what is right than about being liked. In this tradition, he was a clarion voice of courage and conviction.
Senator McCarthy retired after 22 years of service in Congress, but he never abandoned his beliefs or moderated his tone. He was not interested in conforming to society's expectations for an elder statesman. Nor was he afraid to turn his wit against his adversaries when discussing their policies with which he disagreed.
While he took more than his share of criticism, he stuck to his principles and gave as good as he got. The Senate is better because Eugene McCarthy served here, and the country is as well. He will be missed.