Best known as secretary of defense during the Nixon administration, Melvin Laird also served as a naval officer during World War II, and later as a member of Congress who fought for health care research. The funding bills he pushed through Congress built the National Institutes of Health (NIH), a dozen regional cancer centers and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
How he got all that done: . Laird teamed up on the Appropriations Committee with a Democrat from Rhode Island, John Fogarty. Together they raised NIH funding from $50 million to $1.4 billion.
Laird and Fogarty also helped each other on the campaign trail, each traveling to the other’s home state, Laird to Rhode Island and Fogarty to Wisconsin. Once the Republican governor of Rhode Island called Laird and chewed him out for campaigning on behalf of a Democrat. Laird told him, “He’s a good man.”
Try finding that today.
Laird’s advice to current members of Congress: “Cut out the shouting. Start working together.”
—Adapted from “Words From a Wise Man,” Carl Cannon, Reader’s Digest.