As readers of this blog know, I have little use for RINO’s, (Republicans in Name Only), politicians who call themselves Republicans but once in office vote like Democrats. However, every rule has exceptions and an exception to my antipathy to RINOs is the late Mark Hatfield. Hatfield died on August 7 of this year, at 89 years of age. He served in the Navy as a landing craft officer in the Pacific during World War II at Iwo Jima and Okinawa. He was one of the first Americans to see the ruins of Hiroshima after the surrender of Japan.
Beginning in 1950, he embarked upon a 46 year career in politics as a Republican in Oregon. He served in the Oregon legislature and was twice elected governor of the state. He served 30 years in the Senate from 1967-1997. In office his votes were often indistinguishable from a liberal Democrat. He was a dove on Vietnam, supported the nuclear freeze, cast the deciding vote in the Senate that defeated a balanced budget amendment and was opposed to the death penalty. In 1964 he denounced Goldwater conservatives as extremists. Ronald Reagan, who was a friend of Hatfield, once noted in his diary while he was President that with Republicans like Hatfield, who needed Democrats. He was a RINO’s RINO. Of course you know there is a but coming.
He was a Baptist and an ardent Christian. Perhaps partially because of that he was also an ardent foe of abortion and always voted pro-life. In a liberal state like Oregon that was a hard stance to take, but Hatfield never wavered from it. He introduced the first proposed constitutional amendment to ban abortion and he was a key ally of the late, and great, Congressman Henry Hyde in passing legislation banning federal funds for abortion. Hatfield was often the Republican Democrats loved. His opposition to abortion alienated people who would otherwise have been key supporters, but that seemed to make no difference to him.
So rest in peace Mr. Hatfield. You were my political opposite, except on the key issue of our day, abortion, and for me that makes all the difference.