Yesterday in the Washington Post Dan Balz had an interesting article on the statesmen, who have held or hold statewide office, in Tennessee. The trigger for the article was the recent funeral of Senator Howard Baker of Tennessee and the pending primary challenge faced by Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee. Balz and the people he interviewed claim that Tennessee has a long legacy of electing Republicans, who work across party lines, endorse consensus building, and recognize that governing, not just speech-making, is part of the job. The men that Baltz included in the list, as similar to Howard Baker, are Tennesseans who practice these principles -- the current Governor, Bill Haslam, Senators Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker (ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee), and Bill Frist, former Senate Majority Leader, also my former boss.
Senator Bill Frist supports the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD). If you read his piece you learn compelling reasons to support CRPD ratification from a Republican in the Howard Baker tradition.
In the Balz piece one statement from Governor Haslam stands out. Haslam, who was mayor of Knoxville before being elected governor in 2010, got a start in politics as an intern in Baker’s Senate office. One of his jobs was to reply to constituents about Baker’s support for the Panama Canal Treaty. The letters, he recalled, ran 100-1 against the treaty. “I was sitting there thinking, ‘Why in the world is our guy for this?’ ” he said. “It was actually a great lesson. . . . He honestly thought it was the best thing for the country.”
I suspect if Governor Haslam were a Senator he would vote for ratification of the CRPD. Ratifying the CRPD is certainly in the best interest of our country.
Senators Alexander and Corker, having been characterized as being in the Howard Baker mold, have a powerful opportunity in the next few hours – urge the Senate leadership to hold a vote on the CRPD tomorrow. Talking about getting the right kind of attention. Talking about doing the right thing, given the opposition and timidity of others. Wow. They would have 54 million new friends. They would be saying -- facts not fear, facts not pandering, and facts not political posturing -- are the things that inspired them to act in a fine, long-witnessed, Tennessean tradition.