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Statesmanship vs. partisan politics

Published: March 10, 2013

During my days with U.S. Sen. David Boren, senators on both sides of the aisle usually gave presidential appointments the benefit of the doubt and supported their nominations despite political differences. This course of action was taken as a matter of statesmanship and deference to the office of the president. It also fostered a bipartisan working relationship with the administration in power at the time, whether it was Democrat Jimmy Carter or Republican Ronald Reagan. Unfortunately, today's political environment has become extremely partisan and divided as was evidenced by our two senators' aggressive opposition to the confirmation of former Sen. Chuck Hagel of Nebraska as secretary of defense.

Not only did they not give Hagel the benefit of the doubt, Sen. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee, was one of the first to state that Hagel was unqualified and Sen. Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa, questioned his commitment to keeping our country safe. They seemed not to care that their past Republican colleague was a decorated Vietnam War veteran, successful businessman and endorsed by Gen. Colin Powell.

Now that Hagel has been confirmed as secretary of defense, I wonder how he and President Obama will feel about helping maintain and expand the military operations located in Oklahoma. Some facilities and programs may need to be given the benefit of the doubt when future defense spending and budget cuts are evaluated. Ironically, it'll be the same kind of consideration that both our senators didn't give the president and his top military adviser.

David “Dusty” Martin, Edmond

Boren was one of just two Democrats voting to confirm Robert Bork's nomination by Reagan to the Supreme Court in 1987, in one of the most contentious nomination battles in modern times. The nomination failed 58-42. Six Republicans voted against Bork.


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