Distinguished Gentlemen

I mentioned yesterday that Katharine Hayhoe, the climate scientist and evangelical Christian, is one of my “sheroes” because of her courage in standing up to the forces of religiously driven climate-change denial. Two people who I also respect tremendously are former Sen. Lincoln Chafee of Rhode Island (who in 2003 was the lone Republican to vote against Dubya’s deranged Iraq invasion) and former Rep. Bob Inglis of South Carolina (who was one of the few Republicans to stand up to the Koch Mafia on the issue of human-caused climate change in 2009, and paid the ultimate political price for it in 2010).

Chafee’s 2008 memoir Against the Tide, a chronicle of his fight against Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld blockheadedness, cruelty and radicalism, was one of the best books on American politics I’ve ever read, every bit as compelling as the late Sen. Jim Jeffords’s An Independent Man (2003). While Inglis has yet to write a book, he has been quite outspoken over the years about the need for Republicans to reject climate denialism.

Now, Chafee–who left the Republican Party in the late-2000s–is gearing up to face off against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic presidential primary, while Inglis will receive the 2015 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award on May 3 in Boston. It’s good to see these two men of integrity get their share of the mainstream-media spotlight; they represent the hopes and dreams of Americans who just want our political system to function properly again.

I’m under no illusion that Chafee will score an upset victory over Clinton, or that Inglis will smack some sense into the anti-science members of his party. However, both Chafee and Inglis have demonstrated that principle and integrity still matter. That’s a lesson more powerful than any political machine.

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.