Senator Chris Dodd


TRIBUTE TO SENATOR PAUL TSONGAS
(Senate - January 28, 1997)

[Page: S699]

Mr. DODD. Mr. President, it is with a great sense of sadness that I rise today to pay tribute to a man who epitomized personal and political courage and a fervent commitment to public service--Senator Paul Tsongas.

Paul and I both came to Congress in 1974, as part of the so-called Watergate class and we were together in the Senate from 1981 to 1984. In all that time, while we didn't always see eye to eye on every issue, our deep friendship and appreciation for each other never diminished.

Throughout his entire life, Paul Tsongas built on the strong belief in public service that he learned while a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia and country director in the West Indies.

Whether it was in his hometown of Lowell, MA, where he served as a city councilor; or as a one-term Senator, who pushed through what President Carter called the most important conservation legislation of the century, the Alaska Lands Act of 1980; or even as a Presidential candidate and later cochairman of the Concord Coalition, preaching the gospel of a balanced budget, Paul Tsongas always had the best interests of his fellow citizens in mind.

In all the time I knew him, Paul Tsongas never wavered from the firmly held beliefs and principles that guided his public and private life. What is more, Paul was never afraid to speak his mind or voice an opinion, no matter how controversial or unpopular.

The courage was never more evident than in his hard fought battle to conquer the health problems that plagued him for more than a decade and eventually took his life. When Paul was diagnosed with cancer in 1983, he gave up what was then a promising political career in the U.S. Senate to undergo radical treatment and rehabilitation.

After his amazing recovery, Paul stayed close to his family arguing that no man ever died wishing he'd spent more time with his business.

But the pull of the arena was too strong for Paul Tsongas and after being cleared by doctors to resume his political career he began what most observers termed a futile campaign to unseat George Bush.

But, what he lacked in fiery oratory he made up for with a commonsense agenda that appealed to Democrats across the country. While Paul failed to gain the Democratic nomination he never lost his dignity or the trademark dry wit that always characterized him.

Teddy Roosevelt once said that of public service `It is not the critic that counts. * * * The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena; whose face is marked by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasm and great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.'

Paul Tsongas knew well both the joys of victory and the anguish of defeat. No matter what adversity befell him, be it personal or political, he never paused from his tireless efforts to improve the world around him. For all those in the Senate and throughout the country who valued his wise counsel and commitment to public service he will be sorely missed.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Niki and his three daughters Ashley, Katina, and Molly.

Mr. President, I yield the floor.