The most elite unit in Napoleon’s army was the “Old Guard.”
Its members were the longest serving veterans and those with the fiercest loyalty to the Emperor. Last weekend I went to an event where the Old Guard of the Kansas Republican Party was gathered. Nancy Landon Kassebaum Baker was there and I was breathlessly assured by one of her former staffers that if I played my cards right I would be granted an audience with the Queen Mother of “Moderate” Republicanism in the state.
I quietly demurred, having had unpleasant dealings with “Nancy” over the years. In 1978, her opponent in the Republican Senate primary was Wichita businessman Sam Hardage. Hardage, his wife, and two children were badly injured in an airplane crash two days after the primary. (The night of the primary, I had gone with Hardage to Kassebaum’s headquarters to congratulate her. He held her arms aloft for the cameras, like the victor in a prize fight.)
Hardage and his family were medivacked back to Wichita from Colorado where the plane crash occurred. While they were in the hospital there I got a call from David Bushong, Kassebaum’s campaign manager, asking me to release Hardage’s list of campaign contributors.
I called Hardage in the hospital to get his permission and was startled by his angry response. Apparently at the exact moment her campaign manager was telephoning me to get the “Glengarry leads,” Kassebaum was holding a press conference on television, claiming she’d just visited her defeated rival in the hospital, along with his family, and that they were all going to be fine but to join with her in her thoughts and prayers for their recovery.
Kassebaum had made all this up and Hardage saw this press conference from his hospital bed. Continue reading