A Good Man Says Goodbye
Yesterday afternoon, Vermont Senator Jim Jeffords (I) made his valedictory speech before the Senate prior to his retirement at the end of this session. The text is available here. Jeffords took the opportunity to decry the current fiscal insanity with which this Administration and Congress have saddled our country, saying "It seems to me the very least we should do is pay today for the fiscal costs of our policies. Instead, we are floating IOUs written on our children's future. This year we have no budget, and we are unwilling even to debate most of our basic spending bills before the November election."
While Jeffords made no mention of his 2001 bolt to independence, he did suggest "we would be better served in world affairs today by being less haughty and more humble. I regret that my departure from Congress, like my arrival, finds our country at war. Young and even not-so-young Americans are sacrificing life and limb, while the rest of us are making little or no sacrifice."
Sadly, only a few senators could tear themselves away from their own pressing business and take the time to listen to their colleague's farewell: the AP reports that "at least a half-dozen" Democratic senators were in the chamber, along with Republicans Chuck Grassley and Linc Chafee.
Jeffords worked hard throughout his thirty-two years in Congress on behalf of the environment and education, particularly for those children with special needs. He has been a true centrist throughout his career, one of the old New England guard like John Chafee (Linc's father), Bob Stafford (Jeffords' predecessor) and George Mitchell. The Senate is the worse for his departure, and I wish him all the best in retirement.