Former Tennessee Republican Senator Howard Baker has died at the age of 88, and his death reminds us of what the Republican Party used to be a few decades ago.
Baker was a man of principle, decency, dignity, and substance. He was a moderate centrist conservative, with the ability to cross the aisle and be bipartisan with Democrats.
He served with distinction in the US Senate for eighteen years, and was Senate Majority Leader in the first Ronald Reagan Administration term, and was Chief of Staff to Reagan for the last couple of years of his Presidency. He also was Ambassador to Japan in the first term of President George W. Bush.
He also sought the Republican Presidential nomination in 1980, against Reagan, George H. W. Bush, and Bob Dole, and this author considered him, by far, the preferable choice among that group.
He was on the Senate Watergate Committee, and backed away from support of Richard Nixon without any qualms, and was famous for asking what did the President know, and when did he know it?
He was the son in law of former Senate Minority Leader Everett Dirksen of Illinois, and later married Senator Nancy Landon Kassebaum of Kansas, the daughter of former Kansas Governor and 1936 Republican Presidential nominee Alf Landon.
If there were more Howard Bakers in the Republican Party, that party would be so much better off, but Baker would not fit well in today’s GOP, sadly!
Tennessee and the nation have lost a giant figure in the history of American politics and the US Senate!