John McCain and Tom Foley, the Integrity We’ve Lost

Dear Group,

This week I’ve been listening to eulogies in praise of John McCain, a legislator with whom I often disagreed but whose integrity I never doubted. I listen with nostalgia for a better time in our governance when integrity was valued, a time when the man sitting in the White House was capable of joining us in mourning the passage of a war hero and statesman regardless of personal grudges, 

In the same week, last Monday, with only a little fanfare, Highway 395 in Washington State was renamed the “Thomas Stephen “Tom” Foley Memorial Highway” in a sign-unveiling ceremony near where Division St crosses the Spokane River. Tom Foley served his constituents in U.S. Congressional District 5 (eastern Washington) from 1965 to 1995. He was a man of unquestioned decency, fairness, and intelligence, a man respected by all who knew him. We do well to remember him among the great people who have served our country and eastern Washington well.

I can only imagine the moral repugnance Tom Foley would have felt for the current resident of the White House. In his early years in Congress, Tom Foley served through the Nixon administration, the last time we heard the words “unindicted co-conspirator” legitimately applied to a President. 

As the nation mourns a war hero and statesman of integrity, and as eastern Washington names a highway after another statesman, Tom Foley, we contemplate the divisive autocrat who pretends to lead us while tearing at the fabric of our democratic institutions. We consider the Republican/Libertarian lawmakers, McMorris Rodgers among them, who seem incapable of anything but praise for this man.

Keep to that high ground,


P.S. In November 1994 Eastern Washington lost Tom Foley to George Nethercutt by a mere 4000 votes (110,057 to 106074). The election turned on two issues: 1) Tom Foley’s opposition to term limits. Nethercutt campaigned on a promise to serve only three terms…and then had the gall to stay for five. 2) Tom Foley’s reluctant vote for Bill Clinton’s assault weapons ban, an issue over which the NRA allied with the Republican Party to stir up fear over a supposed threat to the Second Amendment. 

P.P.S. The history of Hwy 395 and Tom Foley’s efforts to secure the funding to improve it are nicely covered by an article in the Spokesman by Nicholas Deshais published September 20.