The Legacy of Robert Strauss
No less than former first lady Barbara Bush said of Strauss’s death last night, “He is absolutely the most amazing politician. He is everybody’s friend and, if he chooses, could sell you the paper off your own wall.” Strauss, of course, was a Democrat who ended up on the April 1974 cover of Texas Monthly along with George H.W. Bush. As Al Reinert wrote in a piece titled “Bob and George Go to Washington, or The Post-Watergate Scramble”:
In less than a week’s time during December 1972, two Texans were named National Chairmen of the Democratic and Republican Parties. Robert Strauss, the Democrat, was a lifelong friend of John Connally—law school classmate, hunting sidekick, co-tenant of a lakeside cottage—yet lost the former governor to the GOP soon after taking office. Republican George Bush—who generously traded to the Democrats one of his own schoolmates, fraternity brother (Skull & Bones) and New York Mayor John Lindsay—graciously welcomed Connally, who had been largely responsible (in Bush’s estimation) for Bush’s defeat in the 1970 Senate election. The winner of that race, Connally protege Lloyd Bentsen, had been Bush’s occasional tennis foe and confederate in the same country club, as well as the first U.S. Senator to call for the election of Bob Strauss.
Strauss was later famous for his role as the U.S. ambassador in Moscow–appointed, no less, by Bush–and he remained the epitome of the politico who could get things done regardless of party lines and was called on by presidents regardless of whether or not they had a D or an R after their names.