Former Republican Indiana Senator Richard Lugar, who served 36 years in that chamber from 1977-2013, passed away over the weekend at age 87.
Lugar was that rare Republican, considered a moderate, who became highly renowned as a foreign policy expert, and headed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from 1985-1987 and 2003-2007.
While usually considered a conservative, he was the kind of Republican who no longer exists now in that party. He “crossed the aisle” and worked with Democrats, including President Barack Obama, who he had come to be close to in the four years Obama was in the Senate before being elected President. He was co-chairman of the Obama Inaugural Committee.
His major commitment was to work with Georgia Democratic Senator Sam Nunn toward the dismantling of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons around the world after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991.
His views on immigration, climate change, and Cuban policy were outside the norm of his party. He supported Obama’s two Supreme Court nominees, Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, one of a very few Republicans to do so.
He was Mayor of Indianapolis from 1968 to 1976, and gained a reputation as Richard Nixon’s favorite mayor. He was overlooked by George H. W. Bush in 1988, who picked fellow Indiana Senator Dan Quayle, a total lightweight selected for Vice President, and gave America four years of concern were anything to occur to Bush.
The longest serving Senator in Indiana history, and one of the longest serving in American history, his defeat in the primary in 2012 was another sign of the deteriorating nature of the Republican Party. And Lugar in retirement was a critic of Donald Trump, who represented every trait that Lugar was the exact opposite of, as Lugar was a man who fit the image of being decent, reasonable, intelligent, well mannered, principled, and highly respected.
Lugar even challenged President Ronald Reagan on the issues of the Philippines and South Africa policies during the mid 1980s, and never felt he must be slavishly loyal to the party line, and that is what his legacy will be, a remnant of what the Republican Party had once been, but no longer is, a party of principle and mainstream ideas, now lost in the age of Donald Trump.