They Could Be Statesmen
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They Could Be Statesmen

BY KEN NEAL

Oklahoma’s senators have the opportunity to hold an honored place in U.S. history.

They simply have to oppose a deranged president.

Tulsa’s Sen. Jim Inhofe has the most to gain and the least to lose by simply speaking the truth about Donald J. Trump: The president has repeatedly obstructed justice during the Mueller investigation.

It appears unlikely Trump will be impeached, given the solid Republican support in the body which must convict him – the U.S. Senate. Inhofe and James Lankford could lead a change of heart in the senate.

Even if not impeached, their opposition would help beat his bid for re-election.

On Aug. 7, 1974, U.S. Sen. Barry Goldwater, R-AZ, U.S. House Minority Leader John Rhodes, R-AZ, and U.S. Senate Minority Leader Hugh Scott, R-PA, made it clear to the embattled President Richard Nixon that he faced all-but-certain conviction and removal from office in connection with the Watergate scandal.

Nixon announced his resignation the next evening, effective at noon on Aug 9, 1974.

Sen. Inhofe is the most obvious of our senators to oppose the president. A senator since 1994, his stature in that body carries weight and other senators would follow. Sen. Lankford is relatively new to the Senate and does not have the seniority or gravitas that Inhofe has.

And – most importantly – Jim Inhofe is simply unbeatable in Oklahoma. He is said to be raising money for re-election in 2020, when it appears that Trump will be seeking a second term.

The senator will be 86 shortly after Election Day in 2020. Some thought he would not run again after 26 years in the Senate, but he holds a prestigious committee chairmanship and is at the height of his power in the senate.

The senator has been in public life since 1966, serving in the Oklahoma Legislature, as the Republican nominee for governor, as mayor of Tulsa, a member of the U.S. House of Representatives before being elected to the U.S. Senate. Even if he got beat in 2020, he would leave with a long record of accomplishment and at a ripe old age.

Leading the reluctant Republican senators to oppose Trump would be the single act that puts Inhofe in the history books as a statesman instead of a party hack.

It is no secret that many, if not most, Republican senators realize Trump is a damaged human being that has denigrated the presidency, made enemies abroad and ignored cherished national institutions.

Still, Trump holds the Republican Party hostage with his populist/nationalist rhetoric, punctuated with so many lies that is hard to keep up. Pity the poor Republican voter whose partisanship bids him support the president.

Trump is indeed a phenomenon, supported openly by Russia where he is obviously considered to be a “useful idiot.”

He most recently indicated he would accept help from foreign governments, [i.e. Russia] even after escaping indictment only because he is a sitting president.

Will Inhofe or Lankford rise to the level of Goldwater, Rhodes and Scott in the Nixon years?

Certainly not because of this column.

But let us hope they will give the idea serious thought. Either man could be remembered in history as having taken a stand for the good of the country instead of a man who has repeatedly showed he is not fit to be president.

To boot, they would be doing the right thing for the nation as well as their honor.

Ken Neal is former editorial page editor of the Tulsa World

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June 14, 2019

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