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WILLIAM R. SMITH: Members of Congress have forgotten role

on May 31, 2013 10:20 AM

The aged complain about the minuses of old age, but one positive is that, if you’re lucky, you can remember quite a bit. This occurred to me lately as I watched the latest behavior of our elected federal officials. Let me say that I have no proof yet of what really happened with the Benghazi, IRS or Associated Press “scandals.” The bad news is that unless things change, I never will.

Approximately 40 years ago, when the nation became aware of a potential major problem at the top of our government, a panel was appointed to get to the bottom of it. If they had behaved the way Congress behaves today, every member of the president’s party would have defended him and every member of the opposition would have accused him and there would have been no resolution.

But the chairman then was Sen. Samuel Ervin, D-N.C., and the vice chair was Sen. Howard Baker, R-Tenn. They and the members of the panel actually took their responsibility to the nation seriously. Imagine that.

I can still hear Sen. Ervin saying, “I’m just an old country lawyer who wants to get this right,” and Sen. Baker saying, “What did the president know and when did he know it?”

They got the facts and President Ford was finally able to say to the nation, “Our long national nightmare is over.” We moved on.

Somewhere between then and now the members of Congress, for the most part, have forgotten that once elected they do not represent only the party line but every citizen of our country.

When asked what form of government had been created for the United States, another great patriot answered, “A republic, if you can keep it.” That was Benjamin Franklin when the Constitution was ratified.

I’m uneasy.

William R. Smith


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