The Passing Of A Statesman

by Curt Kovener  

The start of 2014 brings us another election cycle with filings beginning today for the May primary and general election in November.

It is with sad irony that one of the Hoosier state’s political giants, former Congressman Andy Jacobs Jr. (who in my estimation is second only to our own Lee Hamilton), passed away December 27 at the age of 81. Many southern Hoosiers may not recall or even heard of Jacobs. He was a pragmatic man of principal, far wiser than he let on, who did not seek the limelight or wear his convictions on his sleeve like many of today’s candidates and elected leaders. He didn’t need to: he lived them.

While serving in the Korean War he was injured while pulling another wounded Marine to safety. He walked with a limp the rest of his life.

He coined the term ‘chicken hawks’ and ‘war wimps’ for those political leaders who never served in battle or even in the military but who were quick to send others into harm’s way (while protecting their own children by keeping them stateside.)

He not only opposed the Iraqi War but believed it was unconstitutional. According to Brian Howey of Howey Politics Indiana, Jacobs believed “it was forged at the hands of ‘war wimps’ who never served themselves and if they did, dodged combat, but warned us of an arsenal of WMD that didn’t exist and the potential for mushroom clouds if the U.S. didn’t wage its shock and awe. It came at the price of 4,489 American lives, including 97 Hoosiers, and tens of thousands more suffering an array of brain and limb injuries.

“The bitter harvest is not only Iraq falling into what appears to be a regional conflict spawned from the Syrian civil war, but the fact that it is China that is developing and benefiting from Iraqi oil production as it climbs toward what The Economist predicts will be the planet’s No. 1 economy.

As Jacobs observed in his book – ‘The 1600 Killers’ – “Of course the great-granddaddy of all government waste is borrowing money to borrow trouble in other countries’ wars. If a Congress chooses to do this, it is ill-advised; if a President chooses to do so, it is illegal.”

Jacobs forethinking wisdom and Howey’s digest of his observations are showing how clear hindsight always is and what happens when we are the lemmings of elected officials’ Pied Pipering.

On a lighter but just as truthful side, Jacobs had some Will Rogers-esque observations about our electoral process. Attributed to the late congressman:

•“You can take a voter to the polls, but you can’t make him think.”

•“We’d all like to vote for the best man, but he’s never a candidate.”

•“It’s when a fellow thinks he knows that hurts him.”

Three tidbits of wisdom we should remember as we listen to the campaign rhetoric and go to the polls in 2014.