I read with joy and instant recognition Bernard A. Weisberger’s superb article on the history of political parties in America (“The Lives of the Parties,” September). I say recognition because I had heard it all before—on an Amtrak Metroliner streaking from Washington, D.C., to New York City five or six years ago. I was producing a film on the history of Congress, and Bernie was one of the writers. We were returning from a series of meetings when an innocent question of mine about the two-party system sparked a magnificent soliloquy from him. For nearly three hours, the fastest and most pleasant train trip I’ve ever taken, he took me campaign by campaign through American history right up to the present. He knew everything: the third parties, the fourth parties, the percentage of the vote each got. He knew their campaign slogans and even sang to me their theme songs. By the time we reached Penn Station, I was higher than a kite, elated by the tour this eloquent, generous freelance historian had given me.
Bernie and I have grown much closer over the years, and I’ve never tired of his conversation and the articles he writes for you. My only regret is that your readers were not able to hear Bernie sing the campaign songs of old, his voice warbling, his eyes flashing with obvious delight.