The Goodness of a Guy Named Gribbin


 At lunch last week I asked a friend if he knew Dave Gribbin.  He didn’t.  Dave was before his time on the Hill.  I said I asked because Dave had just passed away.

 I was saddened just talking about his death, but I found it sadder still that my friend had never known him. He really missed out on someone special.

Dave was a pretty smooth and disarming politician.  He was smart and had good ideas.   He was a partisan, alright.  But mostly he was true to his natural instincts to serve, to make a difference.  He experienced the disappointments and disillusionment that we all did.  But he was a believer in the nobility of politics and our republican system of governance and it seemed to sustain him. 

Dave came to Washington from Wyoming with his wife and life-long partner, Lori, and their high school classmate, Dick Cheney. Dave served as Cheney’s chief of staff throughout his years in Congress and went with him to the Defense Department.  When Cheney joined the Bush ticket in 2000, Dave demurred because of an eye ailment.  I always thought Cheney’s best years were those spent with Gribbin at his side.

Dave brought to politics integrity, decency, a genuine sense of patriotism, and a willingness to contribute to the common good without personal gain or credit.  He was always civil and gracious.  He had an aura of calm, confidence and reliability that made you want to be around him and work with him.  He had strong beliefs, but respected the individuality of others.  He was pragmatic and exercised good old-fashioned common sense, traits essential to anyone who wants to accomplish something for the better in politics.

Those of us who knew him admired Dave’s devotion to family and faith.  Dave’s life in politics didn’t hold a candle to his life as husband, father, and grandfather.  Any parent could see through his savvy attempts to hide his pride, so it was fun listening to the creative and unobtrusive ways he found to turn the subject to his son, DJ, and daughter, Debbie, the grandchildren and how much they meant to him.  But this is not about the beautiful person he was.  It’s about political behavior and how much he elevated it to respectability. 

Dave Gribbin was a model – whether private citizen or public servant, whether leader or follower.  To honor his life, those of us who knew him should make a special effort to preserve and promulgate in politics who he was and what he was.  Dave Gribbin probably wouldn’t feel very comfortable practicing politics today, and that’s a condition we should change.


Editors’s Note: Mike Johnson is a former journalist, who worked on the Ford White House staff and served as press secretary and chief of staff to House Republican Leader Bob Michel, prior to entering the private sector. He is co-author of a book, Surviving Congress, a guide for congressional staff.   He is currently a principal with the OB-C Group.


2 thoughts on “The Goodness of a Guy Named Gribbin

  1. Jerry Climer

    If I had the skill to write well, I’d have written something like this because I think every word is accurate. We’ve all lost a real gem.

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