Monday, August 8, 2011


The passing of Mark Hatfield this past weekend reminded me of a time when there were statesmen in politics on both sides of the aisle. Senator Hatfield inspired confidence from his constituents and his colleagues because he was intelligent, thoughtful, reasonable, and ethical. The gap between the Republican party of his day and the Tea Party radicals of ours is as wide as the universe. 

Instead of just spouting off about high moral standards and then voting to wage war, Hatfield spoke out against the Viet Nam War, voted against defense spending, and cosponsored legislation to reduce nuclear weapons. He helped bring light rail to Portland, helped create the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area as well as protection of several other wilderness areas, brought funding to Oregon Health Sciences University, and supported efforts to combat world hunger. During his last days in the Senate he so angered the new radical right by voting against a proposed constitutional amendment requiring a balanced federal budget, that they wanted to remove him from chairmanship of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

Mark Hatfield wasn't perfect and I didn't always agree with him, but I respected him and trusted that he would work for all citizens not just the ones who donated to his campaign. I grieve for both the passing of a well liked public figure and the demise of statesmanship.

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