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254 chapter 13 A Graceful Departure I bequeath myself to the dirt to grow from the grass I love. If you want me again, look for me under your bootsoles. You will hardly know who I am or what I mean, but I shall be good health to you nevertheless, and filter and fibre your blood. Failing to fetch me at first, keep encouraged. Missing me one place, search another. I stop somewhere waiting for you. —Walt Whitman, from “Leaves of Grass,” 1855 Bob Straub’s political journey was over. It was now time to turn his full attention to his wife, his family, and his business enterprises. As dispiriting as it was to lose the 1978 election to Vic Atiyeh, Straub knew that no longer would his daily habits, off-hand comments, or smallest decisions be picked apart in editorials and poison-penned political columns. His political opponents were now in charge, and would be judged as rigorously as he had been. Straub was stepping back into a world that would now treat him with loving kindness and respect—a family who loved him, and a public and press who could now look back with appreciation on his accomplishments. He could engage himself fully, knowing that he was more or less in control of the outcomes of his decisions. He was his own man again. “When I think about my personal situation, I feel very rich,” Bob said the day after his defeat, “I have a wife I love and enjoy being with, we have a wonderful family living in Oregon, I have good health, and I have enough money that I don’t have to worry about the wolf snarling at the door.”1 Straub’s wife, Pat, recalled the transition from public life, beginning just after the November 1978 election defeat, when everyone was generally still feeling low about the results: “I remember clearly how touching it was at a family gathering, it must have been Thanksgiving, that our son Mike announced that he was thankful that they had their father back.” Straub’s peace was reflected in an unusually candid interview he gave to televisionreporterTedBryantasheleftoffice.Bryantaskedwhathisrolewould be in the party now—would he be “a so-called kingmaker or manipulator?” Straub laughed, “No, no, I’m not that kind of person.” He said that he would not be taking an active role in influencing the operations of the party. “I’ve done my share of that,” Straub said, “and I’m going to get back into private A Graceful Departure 255 life, and I’m going to get back into business … this doesn’t mean I’m going to be mute … and I’ll be very free to speak out … but to formally be an activist in the Democratic Party, I don’t envision myself in that role.”2 Asked if he felt bitterness about the lack of enthusiastic support from Democrats during the last election, Straub was philosophical. “No, I don’t feel any rancor or bitterness toward anybody in the state,” he said, “including Governor-elect Victor Atiyeh. I feel very fortunate about that because a person can waste a lot of energy carrying grudges. I don’t carry any … I feel very appreciative toward the people of Oregon in letting me have four years in the governor’s office. They were four good years. I did some useful thing for the people of Oregon, and I’m very happy about it.” Did Straub think the state would suffer under the new governor? “No, I don’t think it will suffer,” Straub replied, “I think there may be a slowing down of the pace a little bit, just because of the nature of Senator Atiyeh. I think maybe this is what the people of Oregon want. And maybe it will be a good thing to slow down for a little while.” Still he couldn’t avoid feeling regret about what might have been had he had a second term. “I felt in the last year and a half of my administration that I really was on top of things. And that’s one of the reasons it hurt me so badly to be beaten, because I felt that I was in a position to really do some good things for the people of Oregon. And to provide the kind of leadership that they were entitled to.”3 Apparently, incoming Governor Victor Atiyeh thought that Governor Straub had done a lot of things right, as...


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