Society and Culture

Remembering Bob

Bob Goldwin was a meticulous scholar with a subtle understanding of politics. I’ve turned to his book on the Bill of Rights, From Parchment to Power, so many times that my copy is threatening to fall apart, and I never hesitated to call Bob himself if I had a question about Madison or the Constitution. He was a gentle and generous man—besides being brilliant.

Dick remembers Bob from the Ford years, when he became a resident scholar at the White House. Bob had worked for Don Rumsfeld at NATO, and after Don became White House Chief of Staff, Bob organized a series of seminars for President Ford and the senior staff. He’d get together a small number of people, always including the president, and bring in a speaker to enlighten the group. Dick particularly remembers one Saturday when Bob put together a gathering up in the solarium on the top floor of the White House. The speaker that day was Daniel Patrick Moynihan, and he talked about his book Beyond the Melting Pot, in which he and Nathan Glazer wrote about the persistence of ethnicity in America and the consequences of it. Beyond the Melting Pot was a controversial book at the time. All these years later, we know it was very prescient.

Dick says that he does not recall in all his years in Washington events like the ones Bob organized. Bob didn’t advertise what he was doing and didn’t talk about it much in the years after, which was part of his essential modesty, part of what made him so admirable. We will miss him very much.

The memorial service will be held Thursday at 1:30 p.m. at Beth El Synagogue, 8215 Old Georgetown Road, Bethesda, Maryland.

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