(April 22)  The life of John Treen, who died last week of the coronavirus at age 94, is an example of how even fair and accurate headlines can nonetheless fail to do justice to their subjects.

Treen’s obituary headlines will rightly identify him as the brother of a governor (David Treen of Louisiana) and as the only man ever to lose an election to neo-Nazi David Duke. But those headlines give short shrift to John Treen’s life of work as a stalwart of the Republican Party in his state for more than 70 years.

Yes, his brother David Treen was the more famous, more readily genial, and far more diplomatic and politically successful. But John Treen, two years older, did yeoman’s volunteer work for David Treen for decades. He actually preceded David Treen by more than a decade in joining the Republican Party, in what was then the solidly Democratic South, by volunteering for Thomas Dewey in the 1948 presidential campaign. He remained active in party politics until his death. His mind remained sharp as a tack and, until the virus hit him, he was boastful (in an appropriate way) about his robust health….

By southern Republican standards, John Treen was very much a moderate, and he wasn’t bashful about his views. Those more conservative than he didn’t necessarily enjoy the exchanges. But the good things about John Treen were that everyone always knew where he stood, that his word was reliable, and that he was loyal to those he counted as allies.

To younger generations of party activists, he had a habit of reminding them in no uncertain terms that they had much to learn (from people like him, naturally). But once that point had been made, he would often encourage them and praise them generously to others. He cared.

[The rest of this column, memorializing a good Navy veteran, is here.]


Tags: , , , ,