Another Giant Steps Down

I know, I know — bloggers are supposed to be perpetually angry. Accordingly, we usually devote ourselves to describing for our faithful readers the “Outrage of the Week” and how our government is screwing up again

For me, this is not one of those times. I come today to praise, not to bury. Except for the most intensely partisan on both sides, all Americans should be sad that Sen. John Warner (R-Va.) will not seek reelection to the U.S. Senate next year. One by one the great senators who really understand the unique role they play in the American system are leaving “the world’s greatest deliberative body,” and we are poorer as a result.

Like the greats before him — Bob Dole, Howard Baker, Sam Nunn, Henry Jackson — Warner was at once a partisan and a patriot, someone who had strong beliefs but adapted those beliefs to find common ground with the other party in the best interests of his country. He represents the best in the long-ago bipartisan tradition begun by Republican Sen. Arthur Vandenberg of Michigan, that “Politics stops at the water’s edge.” He became an expert in international affairs and was one of the most influential Senate Republicans when speaking on matters of foreign policy and national defense. He was a friend of presidents, Republican and Democrat, and supported the legitimate authority of presidential power. He was also a skeptic, however, and was never shy about telling any president when he thought they were wrong.

Good judgment, solid temperament, well informed, true to his principles and willing to work with anyone for the good of his country — those qualities describe Sen. Warner. He will be remembered as one of the great men ever to serve in the United States Senate.

When he leaves, Sen. Warner will have served 30 years in the Senate. He is entitled to enjoy his remaining time, which we all hope will stretch over many years. We all owe him a debt of thanks for helping to make this a better country.