• Andrus and Carlson

"I've long thought that Governor Andrus has never been given the full credit he deserved for the critical role he played in leading the way to passage of the greatest single piece of conservation legislation in American history. So I set out to make sure the history books properly reflect this excellent piece of his legacy." - Chris Carlson

carlson

There ought to be an amendment to the Constitutional amendment that limits the terms of a president to two consecutive terms which would require each major political party’s nominee for President come only from the ranks of that party’s governors.

There simply is no substitute for executive experience, in particular government executive experience; and, while we are at it, let’s ban that asinine phrase usually uttered by members of the United States Senate, that they’re going to run the government like a business when they become president.

If ever there was an ignorant phrase, that’s it. Government is not a business as any governor will tell one.

Think how much better off we would be today if both party’s nominees for the presidency were governors. As a nation we would not be despairing over the Hobbseian choice we are facing in the fall with a narcissistic, egomaniac billionaire who claims he alone can change the federal government and run it like a business (Ignore his three bankruptcies please) on one side.

On the other side we have a U.S. Senator who, like most senators, has run nothing larger than a Senate staff, if senators run their own staff at all, and after 30 years of government service still demonstrates a lack of judgment and a tendency to let staff run her instead of the reverse. The net effect is the electorate has little confidence in her abilities, not to mention her ethics.

One need look no further than our current president for an example of how difficult it is for one to master the levers of power and move the bureaucracy when one has had no previous executive experience. It took six years for President Obama to begin to command the office and run the government.

Looking to the past is a good guide for almost all of our good presidents were first governors. The most notable exception of course was President Lincoln. Examine the list of presidents who were governors: Franklin Roosevelt, Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Calvin Coolidge, Ronald Reagan, Bill Clinton, Jimmy Carter, George W. Bush, and Thomas Jefferson are just a few names that leap out.

The list of duds who were senators but thought they saw a president in the mirror every morning include Lyndon Johnson, John F. Kennedy (Yes, JFK – his record of accomplishments was thin, and having sex with an underage intern during the Cuban Missile crisis was inexcusable), Richard Nixon, and Warren G. Harding.

If each party would have to have nominated a governor today we would be weighing the merits of Ohio’s Governor John Kasich or former Florida Governor Jeb Bush against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, or California Governor Jerry Brown¸ or Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

Just think how much better we’d all feel, knowing that there was competency, skill and ethics on the part of both party’s nominee and that no matter the outcome the nation would still be in experienced hands.

Idaho voters over the years have shown an uncanny ability to choose as governors people who have already been vetted by the voters in other government roles and thus have a record that can be reviewed. The Idaho Republican party in particular has figured this out much better than the Democrats.

Idaho Democrats in recent years have shown a distressing tendency to put up candidates for major offices people who have no record and have never run for anything else. Not surprisingly the Idaho electorate has rejected folks like Keith Allred, Jerry Brady, and AJ. Balukoff who sought to be governor.

One need look no further than the upcoming 2018 election. The Republican primary will see former state senator and current Lt. Governor Brad Little, former state senator Russ Fulcher, and former state representative and current congressman Raul Labrador squaring off.

Democrats are expected to nominate A.J. Balukoff again who may have no primary opposition as Boise Mayor Dave Bieter is expected to stay where he is.

Democrats should take a page from the Republican play book and start cultivating a farm team of young Democrats who they can bring along by providing support (such as a political job that pays more than minimum wage).

Here’s a list they could start with: Mike Kennedy¸ former Coeur d’Alene City Council; State Rep. Matt Erpelding; Lewiston City Councilman Jesse Maldonado; Latah County Commissioner Tom Lamar; Boise City Councilman T.J. Thomson; former American Falls Mayor Amy Wynn; and, North Idaho College Young Democrat president A.J. Konda. Add two young members of the state party staff to that list—Tom Hamilton and Shelby Scott.

The bottom line is there is no substitute for experience whether at the state level or the national.

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carlson

For the sixth year now since moving back to the “home country,” on the 4th of July we drive a short ten miles from our home on Cave Lake to the annual Rose Lake Regatta. There’s a “parade” of six to ten neighborhood boats, a short program and then a potluck.

It’s all informal, relaxing and enjoyable as about 100 plus year-round and summer-only residents enjoy each other’s company. It’s about American as American can be. We sing a few patriotic songs. Generally the subject of politics is avoided.

As event organizer for 31 years, fellow Kellogg native Tim Olson, once said to me, “Chris, on the 4th of July we are neither Democrats nor Republicans. We are all Americans who love our country and love our freedoms.”

Tim is someone I wish I’d gotten to know years before that first regatta in 2010. He’s one of those decent, hard-working, country smart people one finds all over Idaho. For years he was the top lobbyist for Regence Blue Shield of Idaho and he still lobbies in Boise.

He also was the tall stud star on the last basketball state championship won by Kellogg in 1964. He and his high school sweetheart, Julie, went on to Idaho State, which Tim attended on a basketball scholarship. Their marriage has been blessed and they’ve become our good friends.

My role has always been to say a few non-partisan words about Idaho and note the previous day in 1890 was when Idaho became the 43rd star on our flag. Then I lead the group in the singing of the State Song—“Here We Have Idaho.”

Tim surprised me this year when he announced a special award besides the regatta winners. It was for the person the board felt had made a solid contribution to the welfare of the state. He announced I was the winner, which caught me totally by surprise. Knowing that our son, Scott, is a major in the US Marine Corps, the prize was a large volume telling the story of many of the nation’s Medal of Honor winners.

Further to my surprise, though, there was no account of our fellow Kellogg resident, Frank Reasoner, mortally wounded in July of 1965 in Vietnam. He was awarded the medal posthumously for honoring the code that says no Marine is ever to be left behind.

First Lieutenant Reasoner, in command of Company A of the 3rd Recon Battalion of the 3rd Marine Brigade, was killed in action while trying to retrieve a wounded member of his command.

His story should be required reading in all Idaho history classes (As should the stories of Idaho’s other 12 winners) much as students in Texas hear and memorize Colonel Travis’ speech before the Alamo was overrun.

Reasoner was born in Spokane in 1937 but largely raised in Kellogg. He enlisted in the US Marine Corps three months before his 18th birthday in June, 1955. Initially trained as an airborne radio operator, he rose through the enlisted ranks quickly to become a sergeant, but he decided he wanted to be an officer.

He studied hard and successfully passed the entrance exams for America’s academies, then accepted an appointment from Idaho Senator Henry Dworshak to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

He began his collegiate time there in the summer of 1958 and graduated on schedule in June of 1962. He was placed on the inactive reserve list of the Corps during his time at West Point. A good athlete, he lettered in baseball and wrestling. Being from Kellogg, though, he loved boxing.

He holds a record that will stand forever at West Point: in four years he won four brigade boxing championships at four different weight levels.

Second Lt. Reasoner still had to enter and finish the demanding Officer Training Program at Quantico. One imagines it was a
snap for him and in January, 1963, he began a three-year assignment with the Fleet which lead him into Vietnam in April, 1965, and his death in July, 1965.

His body rests on a knoll in Kellogg’s Greenwood Cemetery just above St. Rita’s Catholic Church. He has a beautiful view up the valley and into the mountains surrounding Kellogg.

A brisk breeze blowing off of Rose Lake with gorgeous clouds flying by brought me back to the present. I said a special prayer of thanks for all those who risk life and are in harm’s way, current members, as well as veterans and their families and relatives to protect our freedoms.

This evening I added an additional prayer for the service of Frank Reasoner as well as his 216 Idaho colleagues who made the ultimate sacrifice.

God Bless America.

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