By Everett W. Curry
I love history. It became my bachelor’s degree major and continues to be a passion. My interest is in more than base facts of humankind. I seek to understand movements, migrations, and “turning-points.” Recently, I re-read Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography seeking to refresh the influences that put him into so many of those “turning-points” in our nation’s history.
I was given a copy of “Not Quite So Simple,” (Harper & Row, 1968) Mark O. Hatfield’s early reflections on his service and political life. He wrote from notes collected during his busy years at Willamette University and subsequent terms in the Oregon House of Representatives and Oregon Senate.
He had been elected to the U.S. Senate from Oregon just a year prior to writing “Not Quite So Simple.” He sought to provide a rationale for political action, desiring to encourage other capable individuals into the political life of service in the legislative branch of government.
Senator Hatfield deals, in this book, with a range of subjects. Many useful quotes stimulate thinking about the need for personal accountability and integrity in the political life. Two subjects stand out for me, his role in the nomination of General Dwight D. Eisenhower by the Republican Party in 1952, and his deep concern about the long-term meaning of U.S. actions in Viet Nam and how they formed our future relationships with nations. Reading his thoughts from thirty-nine years ago on how Viet Nam would change the way other nations related with the U.S. are as contemporary as if written this year.
One test of a public figure’s leadership is how clearly they perceived the issues and acted on those perceptions in a principled way. Senator Mark O. Hatfield serves as a mode for
those who follow him in public service.