Jun 26 2014
12:31 pm
By: Sandra Clark

Former U.S. Sen. Howard H. Baker Jr. has died. He birthed the Republican Party in Tennessee and lived long enough to regret what it has become.

Pam Strickland's picture

"What did the president know

"What did the president know and when did he know it."

He's the reason I became a journalist.

Somebody's picture

Senator Baker was a rare

Senator Baker was a rare jewel, a true statesman. He was such a statesman that he was one of the few people commonly referred to as such while still among the living.

Rachel's picture

Along with Pat Summitt, one

Along with Pat Summitt, one of the few Tennesseans I know held in universal regard. R.I.P.

Tess's picture


"Sen. Baker's body will lie in state from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Monday, June 30, in the Rotunda of the Baker Center, 1640 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville.

His funeral will be held on Tuesday, July 1, at First Presbyterian Church in his hometown of Huntsville, Tennessee."

I know he was a very well respected statesman, but can't wrap my mind around the thinking behind this. There is very, very limited parking on campus right now, plus,

Tess's picture

I know better, but will respond to Toby...

My comment had nothing to do with parking other than pointing out that there is none on campus right now due to construction issues.

It was more related to my feeling that Senator Baker would not have chosen to be displayed like this in death. I wish my father were around for his opinion but he told me before he left that if I placed him for viewing in an open casket that I could expect to be haunted.

At any rate, somebody made this decision and I do hold Senator Baker in very high regard. I think that he did his job as a public servant with the best intentions and for the right reasons.

Pam Strickland's picture

From the photos that I've

From the photos that I've seen, he is not in an open casket. The body is in repose, as befits a statesman.

And, I believe cannot believe that the matter of his funeral was not discussed with Senator Baker. My guess is that it was discussed in detail. And the fact that he is lying in repose at the Baker Center is very appropriate, I believe. I also believe the fact that his funeral is private and closed to the media is very much a move that I can see being made by the Senator.


Tess's picture

Yes, I read that Senator

Yes, I read that Senator Baker and his family decided to have him be displayed in repose on the UT campus prior to his funeral.

Pam Strickland's picture

Actually, Senator Baker

Actually, Senator Baker decided. Told his daughter several months ago after a board meeting for the Baker Center that it was what he wanted. And it wasn't displayed, but to lie in state. You just don't understand that this is something that is very, very appropriate for someone of Senator Baker's stature. Senator, White House Chief of Staff, U.S. Ambassador to Japan. Statesman. It was a closed casket. Hundreds of people went to pay their respects. I, personally, intended to go, but I got hung up taking care of some personal business and wasn't able to make it. But I'm reading Evening Prayer at church today and I'll be saying prayers for him then.

redmondkr's picture

One of Senator Baker's many

One of Senator Baker's many talents was photography. His first camera was a Univex Mercury that is on display at the Museum of Appalachia where he sat on the Board of Directors.

Brian Hornback's picture

That's just rude and even unbecoming of you, Sandra

there is no basis of fact that Senator Baker grew to regret what the Republican Party is then or now.

Hayduke's picture

Got to side with BornHack on

Got to side with BornHack on this one. Baker is the guy who took Bush v. Gore to the Supreme Court, the guy who said "Fuck the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway" and "Don't worry, Jews remember the Holocaust, but they forget insults as soon as they smell cash." And don't forget when he ran the George H. W. Bush campaign with Fox News's Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater doing the Willie Horton dirty work for him.

That he looks good compared to the current crop of Republicans doesn't mean he wasn't trying.

Bbeanster's picture

Got to side with BornHack

Got to side with BornHack on

Submitted by Hayduke on Thu, 2014/06/26 - 4:53pm.
(in reply to Brian Hornback)
Got to side with BornHack on this one. Baker is the guy who took Bush v. Gore to the Supreme Court, the guy who said "Fuck the Jews. They didn't vote for us anyway" and "Don't worry, Jews remember the Holocaust, but they forget insults as soon as they smell cash." And don't forget when he ran the George H. W. Bush campaign with Fox News's Roger Ailes and Lee Atwater doing the Willie Horton dirty work for him.

That he looks good compared to the current crop of Republicans doesn't mean he wasn't trying.

Uh, no.
Off the top of my head, I'd say you are confused. Howard Baker was not involved in the 2000 vote recount. Jim Baker was.

Hayduke's picture

Yep. You can tell I'm not

Yep. You can tell I'm not from Tennessee or I'd know better.

Rachel's picture

wtf? Where are you getting


Where are you getting your information? Cause it's wrong.

Hayduke's picture

Metulj pointed it out. I've

Metulj pointed it out. I've always crossed up Howard, James, Jim, and Joe Don Baker and can't remember which one did what. All that stuff was James III. Unless it was Joe Don.

Knoxoasis's picture

Say what you want about the

Say what you want about the rest, but if you start downing Joe Don I'm afraid I'm gonna have start questioning your patriotism.

reform4's picture

And he wore all that terrible, caked on, heavy makeup!!!!

.. oh wait, that was Tammy Faye Baker.

My mistake.

knoxrebel's picture

Baker, Alexander, and Gordon Ball

I caught this opinion piece in the It's written by conservative columnist Roy Exum. Exum tied the current Senate race into his tribute to Baker. He had a few things to say about Alexander, and, interestingly, about Gordon Ball:

"I don’t believe the truth could be more clearly written on both the state and national level. Distrust and disgust with our politicians has never been higher and, until someone very brave dons the mantle of bipartisan skills that Mr. Baker used so effectively, we can count on 'business as usual.'"

Exum summed it up:

"Lamar Alexander, in my opinion, has failed miserably in the last four years. His voting record is abysmal and his reasoning shows he has lost his compass. His sickening stance on horse abuse best illustrates his disconnect with the vast majority of Tennesseans and, when he voted to “feather his nest” while taking away from our greatest heroes – our veterans – my disgust became so overwhelming it was easy to forget the good things he once did as our governor."

Finally, Exum concluded:

I have no choice but to vote for Alexander’s lightly-regarded opponent, Joe Carr, in the primary but keep a close eye on a Democratic hopeful from Knoxville, Gordon Ball, because you might be in for quite a surprise by November. Granted, that is a long way off in the fickle political process but Ball, a storied attorney, has shown early signs of being someone who knows how to negotiate for the common good.

I honestly believe that until we can elect statesmen, men and women with a touch similar to that of Howard Baker who was masterful at compromise blended with respect, our political efforts will be stymied and, for the most part, futile."

See link:

Average Guy's picture

Lamar should just be who he is

He's a well educated, piano playing moderate at heart - not a gun toting, flannel shirt wearing red meat far right winger.

Unfortunately that wouldn't get him elected.

Or any other Southern Republican, including Baker, if someone like him were to run today.

redmondkr's picture

Howard Baker offered thirteen

Howard Baker offered thirteen rules for Senate success. Perhaps his last one is telling:

"Be civil, and encourage others to do likewise."

Bbeanster's picture

On reconsideration, I am

On reconsideration, I am quite certain you are confused.


Bbeanster's picture

Yep. I'm not as willing to

I'm not as willing to canonize Howard Henry as some in this thread, but he'd never utter those kinds of crude slurs.

And Sandra is right. Baker was demonized by the right wing, which grew to hate him for being too moderate and for "giving away" the Panama Canal. That's just a fact. I'd bet my last nickel that he was appalled by the Tea Party.

Brian Hornback's picture

Well, you and Sandra can have that as your combined

opinion. Just reflect it as your opinion (as you correctly did) Do not present it as fact without proof of fact like Sandy did.

Andy Axel's picture

Your very existence is proof of fact, Brain.

Bodily representing the living shame of the Tennessee GOP is pretty much your career.

Bbeanster's picture

You think he supported Wamp

You think he supported Wamp over Haslam?

And I'm sure he was impressed with the Tea Party declaring war on Lamar Alexander.


R. Neal's picture

A few other statements from

A few other statements from the inbox...

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero:

I’m very sad to hear of Sen. Baker’s passing. He was a giant in American politics and a world statesman whose first love was always East Tennessee.

I think of Howard H. Baker Jr. as a role model – for Republicans, naturally, but also for Democrats. He was a soft-spoken conciliator who believed all his life in respectful governing.

Today, we see so much gridlock in national politics. Sen. Baker was a consensus builder who was not afraid to walk across the aisle to the other political party. He brought people together to constructively work out their differences and solve problems.

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett:

Sen. Howard Baker Jr. was a great American statesman, one of Tennessee’s greatest sons and a longtime friend of my family. He proved that elected leaders can be both effective and maintain their integrity. Our state and our country are better off because of his service. His family is in my prayers.

TNDP Chair Roy Herron:

Senator Baker was partisan, but he was patriotic. And his patriotism rose above his partisanship.

Senator Baker earned the respect of Democrats as well as Republicans. He worked in a bipartisan way with presidents and colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

Bill Haltom's forthcoming biography about Senator Baker is entitled "The Other Fella Might Be Right." That described Senator Baker's humble and honorable attitude toward his fellow Americans of both parties. I once wrote a book review of another biography of Senator Baker, and as I studied his life, my respect for him only grew. That two devout Democrats wrote so admiringly of this Republican leader says much about this great man.

One of the most enjoyable days of my life was participating in a program on political humor led by Senator Baker. "Votes and Jokes" was sponsored by the Baker Center at UT Knoxville. Democrats and Republicans together laughed until we cried. Today, Democrats and Republicans together cry at our great loss, but laugh with happy memories of this great Tennessean.

R. Neal's picture

Bio from the U.T> Howard H.

Obit and biographical profile from the U.T. Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy

Elwood Aspermonte's picture

Baker's organization spawned Thompson and Alexander

and by proxy that would have carried over to Billy Haslam as well. Baker was smart in that he never got into Republican fights and turf wars prior to the general elections and he was always encouraging the Republican line.

The party that he encouraged and supported from those early days in the U.S. Senate, now controls the body politic in the State of Tennessee from Mountain City to Memphis and while it's not as firmly in control of Tennessee as one would think, it is truly hard to attract competent and qualified candidates into Tennessee politics on the Democratic side, particularly in East Tennessee, including Chattanooga. Really don't think that he is ashamed of the Republican Party like some longtime Tennessee Democrats are ashamed of their national party and their current leadership.

Brian Hornback's picture

Bean, Tea Party

didn't support Wamp. They supported Ramsey (for the record) I am confident he doesn't support them declaring on Lamar! I always have and this year support Lamar! BTW, Missed you at the HQ opening on Saturday.

It was your friend Lloyd and whoever the other dude from Chattanooga was that had a fax machine. You can ask John K. King, Darrell Akins and probably even SRW. They can vouch for the fact that I have been on the Baker/Lamar side of the party.

My issue isn't with you or Sandra espousing your opinion on HHB,Jr and what you think his opinion may have been. It is with Sandra presenting it as fact. Because HHB, Jr. would not say anything negative. The party of Baker/Lamar/Duncan and I are big tent. Tea party ain't big tent folks.

Bbeanster's picture

I absolutely know who Lloyd

I absolutely know who Lloyd supported and what he did. he's never tried to misrepresent his past.

Evidently that was imposter Hornback who was all over the Tea Party a couple of years ago.

You are so full of crap it's stunning.

Bbeanster's picture

This is a great story, full


This is a great story, full of fascinating 'what ifs.'

What if he'd accepted Nixon's offer to be his running mate? He could have become the 38th POTUS, and there would probably never have been a President Jimmy Carter, which means there might never have been a President Ronald Reagan.

And who knew that Reagan had offered HHB a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court? And who knew that Baker waffled so long, and was so reluctant that by the time he accepted it, Reagan had already given it to Rhenquist?

This guy was right on the cusp of everything during the 70s and 80s. And he sure pulled Reagan's fat out of the fire when he reluctantly agreed to come in and straighten out the White House after Iran Contra.

Fascinating life.

Brian Hornback's picture

You always gotta go personal,

that is so small minded. Go have a spell. Peace Out, Bean

R. Neal's picture

I don't know what was in

I don't know what was in Howard Baker, Jr.'s heart or mind, but based on his public record I'm guessing Sandra's quote is spot on, and the quote of the day as far as I'm concerned.

According to some googled stories, he helped fight off the John Birchers in Davidson county who were trying to take over the TNGOP way back when. Sounds about right. I imagine he'd have about the same reaction to today's teanuts.

According to his bio at the U.T. Howard Baker Center, he helped Nixon (!) ram the Clean Air Act through Congress at great personal political risk in the South. So there's that.

My only major gripe with Baker over the years was that he also helped ram through the Tellico Dam project and weakened the Endangered Species Act in the process. (He may have even profited from it, but the details are long lost in the cobwebs of my aging mind.) I blame Jimmy Carter just as much, though, for signing the stealth, earmarked legislation that enabled all that. So there you go, bi-partisan disdain.

And for me, it was really just about trout fishing. Baker perhaps saw a bigger economic picture, but that picture unfortunately has never developed as far as I can tell.

And there's probably other stuff that if I knew about I'd be pissed off about. (I wasn't paying a lot of attention back then, except for trout fishing and other less relevant things.)

Anyway, judging from the outpouring of praise for Baker's bi-partisan statesmanship and effectiveness as a political leader, there's no question that he was an influential and remarkable man from Tennessee who adds to our state's reputation for producing statesmen and other historically significant figures.


Brian Hornback's picture

My point is

If it is opinion or your guess stipulate it. As you and Bean (who always has to make it nasty personal) have done in this thread

knoxrebel's picture

Baker's old seat is up in November

Since Gordon Ball listed Howard Baker as one of the two US Senators he most admired (the other was RFK) in response to Randy's questionnaire a couple of months back, I thought I'd refer to his statement on Baker's passing. It seems particularly pertinent that Alexander's seat was also Baker's seat (and also Al Gore and Andrew Jackson's seats). Howard Baker was a very decent man and we need more like him (especially now0.

Gordon Ball Statement on the Passing of Former Senate
Majority Leader and Reagan Chief of Staff Howard Baker

Gordon Ball, Democrat candidate for United States Senate, issued the following statement today after learning of the death of former Senator Howard Baker:

"I’m running for the seat once held by Senator Baker and that is meaningful to me. Recently, I was asked which current or former U.S. Senator I most admired and why. Howard Baker was one of two I mentioned. Senator Baker, though a highly respected Republican leader, had an uncanny ability to cross party lines and broker compromises, often when no one else could. That’s why he was called the ‘Great Conciliator.’ He was a master of the rules and process of the United States Senate. He was a patient listener. He also had a great sense of humor, never lost his temper, and most importantly, in all the years in state, national and world politics, Senator Baker never broke his word. With those and other traits, Senator Baker was able to bring to and maintain a state of civility in the Senate, in sharp contrast to all of the bitterness, sniping, and guerilla warfare now common there. Indeed, our current Senate could learn a lot from studying Senator Baker. He will be missed by all Tennesseans, especially those who admire honesty, integrity, and hard-fought compromise.”

Brian Hornback's picture


I am watching the democrat primary as Adams is an advertiser of mine. Between August 8 and November, I will be covering the race between Lamar and the Democrat nominee. So, Good luck to the eventual nominee.

Bbeanster's picture

About the KNS story:Somebody

About the KNS story:

OK, this has been corrected.

First version said Howard Baker was the first popularly elected US senator from Tennessee since Reconstruction, not the first popularly elected Republican U.S. senator from Tennessee.

Kenneth McKeller was the first popularly elected senator.

Rachel's picture

I saw that and thought (not

I saw that and thought (not for the first time), the KNS needs more editors.

Brian - shut up, please. This really isn't the thread for petty battles.

Brian Hornback's picture


I haven't been petty, it was Bean that took petty personal shots at me. Now, you are demanding me to "Shut up" well in America, we have first amendment right. If you are a co-owner of Knoxviews with Randy and the MrsRandy fine. Otherwise, peace out and take a .........

Rachel's picture

Another Republican who

Another Republican who doesn't understand the first amendment...

(And I didn't "demand" - I said "please.") :)

Brian Hornback's picture

Bless your heart, Rachel. You

Bless your heart, Rachel. You want to argue over everything. I don't roll that way. Peace out

Brian Hornback's picture

Bless your heart too

Bless your heart too

Brian Hornback's picture

This isn't about me, although

This isn't about me, although many on this forum like to make it about me and for some reason make it personally petty and nasty toward me. The entire reason I said anything is that Sandy made a comment that was part fact and part personal opinion. However, she stated her personal opinion as fact. If she had clarified it as fact mixed with her opinion that would have been fantastic. It seems that some folks on this forum would prefer to attack me and that's ok, because haters are gonna hate. I don't participate in that kind of petty mindless rhetoric anymore.

reform4's picture

That old saying comes to mind.


Brian Hornback's picture

Is that from a family reunion

Is that from a Drevick family reunion up north or something.

reform4's picture

Nice personal attack

For someone that feigns so much injury and claims 'personal attack', you sure like to go at people.

So, the next time you falsely claim that someone is personally attacking you, please: don't hesitate to go.... away and never come back, OK?

reform4's picture

Nice personal attack

(accidental duplicate)

Brian Hornback's picture

Again, I am not going to step

Again, I am not going to step down to your and Steve Drevik's level. If you, Steve, Betty and Rachel feel better about yourself to personally attack me, then feel better about yourself.

You lie, about me always coming on here, it is rare that I opine on this forum, this is the second thread this year and the year is half way complete. As a matter of fact, I requested the first of the year that Randy set a password. Because some individuals who were obviously half raised were creating identies revealing themselves to be me.

I just believe that HHB,Jr. was a Statesman and that Sandy Clark should distinquish between her opinion and fact. HHB,Jr. never opined on the many factions of the Republican Party. I would say he had a strong opinion on the two guys and a fax machine that maligned him on the Panama Canal and Lamar's candidacy. But it seems HHB,Jr and Lamar have fared quite better than the fax machine.

It is kind of sad that Steve Drevick back during the Rogero campaign would have the courage to text into the Ed & Bob Show about me, have the courage here to post personal bs, but in public was always polite and talkative, even asking my opinion.

Peace out, carry on.

Rachel's picture

Brian - one small question:

Brian - one small question: has Sandra Clark ever encouraged her to call her "Sandy" (which you've done repeatedly in this thread)?

If not, you're clearly using the diminutive to well, diminish (they way I hear people use "Maddy" to refer to Madeline Rogero).

That's tacky and petty and illustrates one of the reasons why most KVers would rather you "peace out" from now on.

Rachel's picture

Yup, but the "Sandy" thing

Yup, but the "Sandy" thing really irks me.

And BTW, don't call me "Rach." Only two people have ever been allowed to do that, and one of them is dead. :)

Brian Hornback's picture

I don't know who you are

I don't know who you are referring to, but if it's me, I don't operate with fury for anyone that's a hater

Isn't metulj a type of butterfly?

Brian Hornback's picture

It was a slip of the iPad

It was a slip of the iPad touch keys, not intentional. But you make the case for assuming and building a case without an answer. It's your normal mo in regards to me. Always assuming and making worse case scenario.

Rachel's picture

It was a slip of the iPad

It was a slip of the iPad touch keys, not intentional.

Your fingers are pretty damn slippery then, since you did it more than once.

You not only deliberately referred to Sandra in a demeaning manner (which I'm sure you thought was clever), now you won't own it.

Brian Hornback's picture

Actually back when I was in

Actually back when I was in high school, there was a smoke hole where the students would smoke and it wasn't discouraged or against the rules.

So Metulj is a butterfly! Any ole butterfly

Nelle's picture


You think Hornback had friends? Well, wonders never cease.

Brian Hornback's picture

You are kinda of a judgmental

You are kinda of a judgmental type, if that is how you justify the confidence you have in yourself and if that's how you need to feel better about yourself, then carry on.

BrianHornbackdotCom's picture

Rachel, I understand you will

Rachel, I understand you will not take anything I say as the truth, that's your own issue. However, Sandy is a form of Sandra and while you make think it is derogatory. It is a heck of a lot better and respectful than what other anonymous individuals use to refer to me. Does that make it right? No! But I have several friends named Sandra and Sandy. It wasn't as intentional as the cowards that post anonymously on her, I am not referring to you as you do not shield your identity.


reform4's picture


... and try to spell my name right as well.

I know accuracy isn't your bag, Brian, but it's not hard. Just drop the 'c'.

reform4's picture


Again, I am not going to step down to your and Steve Drevik's level.

Really? After what you just posted, you have the balls to post that statement?

Really? Are you that clueless?

It is kind of sad that Steve Drevick back during the Rogero campaign would have the courage to text into the Ed & Bob Show about me

I texted in because you spouted bullshit and lies 5 minutes before the close of the show and there was no time left to phone in. You know that.

And yes, you're a personable guy in person. I don't understand why you're so awful online. There seems to be that consensus about you (including many Republicans), while you're the only person that holds that opinion about me.

Think on that for a few minutes and TRY to let that sink in. You might come to a realization. I sincerely hope so.

Pam Strickland's picture

Brian, you are always petty.

Brian, you are always petty.

Brian Hornback's picture

Who are you? Oh yeah, the one

Who are you? Oh yeah, the one that got kicked in Nashville with accusations on the Mayor.

Pam Strickland's picture

Like I said, always petty. I

Like I said, always petty.

I stand by my complaint.

Bbeanster's picture

Another good story: Baker

Another good story:

Baker wasn't an unalloyed hero in the Watergate hearings. He was close to Nixon and Ol' Fred was running up to the White House and leaking like a sieve to the president's men every night. Baker tried to help Nixon until it became impossible to do so anymore. And to his credit, he quit trying.


Rachel's picture

This is my recollection:

That's my recollection: that when Baker first began asking his famous question, he thought he was HELPING Nixon because the answer would be that Nixon knew little or nothing until very late in the affair.

To his credit, as more info came out, Baker was willing to follow it where it led.

amybroyles's picture

Thanks, Betty

Thanks for posting links to these articles, Betty. Good reads!

Mike Knapp's picture

H. Baker - old school Republican environmentalist

I didn't know who Senator Baker was until I started organizing in Scott county. One doesn't spend much time in Scott county not knowing who Howard Baker is. We did a lot of work around surface mine reclamation, acid mine drainage, stuff like that. His name would come up when we met people who lived near the strip pits and elsewhere mostly in a positive manner although I recall a few hard men who didn't care too much for him... Long story short is that Sen. Baker was well thought of because for one he played a role in making sure that surface mining was regulated. There are some hard feelings about stripmining cutting more than two ways. Yet he actually introduced the bill. I later found out that he also played a role in the passage of CERCLA during the negotiation of which I think he earned his great compromiser badge. For those who have been around a while you may also recall Tennier Industries in Huntsville, TN which had DOD contracts making body bags etc back in the '80's. Being his hometown I suppose you could say that Howard brought home the bacon to the tune of $10 million per year. Those kind of jobs were a big fcking deal in Scott county. Social market economy Scott county style...
(h/t Eve Weinbaum's great book to move a mountain)
As far as comments made above by some regarding Republicans and whether he would or would not like the state of the current GOP I'd simply suggest to look at his record, especially his environmental record in regards to the legislation he played a major role in moving and ask oneself - would Howard Baker fit in today's GOP tent, whichever size and shape it may be? When I ponder that question, knowing what little I know about his record and the pork he brought home, I think the answer is a clear no. Here is a portion of what he said into the congressional record about strip mining back in the '70's. Does this fit in the tent, maybe the vestibule, in the back, damp corner with all the dirty underwear or in the burnpile?
baker on smcra 2.jpg
Personally I really don't give a damn one way or the other. I just hope he gets the rightful credit he deserves for the work he did passing big time federal legislation protecting the mountains and people. Those laws sure as hell wouldn't pass now.

Factchecker's picture

You can be pretty damn

You can be pretty damn certain that Baker recognized climate science or was at least willing to concede to real scientists. Not so our ignoramus U.S. rep Jimmy Duncan. And even LAMAR! has backpedaled to the point that he states that TVA's ability to sail through the latest CO2 regulations will result in hurting the state's economy, IIRC.

Sorry for the hijack, but Baker's legacy is being trampled every day by today's GOP.

Factchecker's picture


A strict reading of the OP can infer that we don't necessarily know whether Baker regretted what the GOP has become, but that he just lived long enough to regret it if he saw all the obvious contradictions to the principles he and his generation's party lived by. It strains credulity to believe he didn't regret much about it, including the invasion of Iraq. I'm just guessing he wouldn't have ignored Al-Qaeda and Richard Clarke's warnings prior to 9/11. Would he have sided with Powell or Cheney?

Marshall Stair's picture

Don't forget the BSF

In my opinion, asking tough questions about Watergate was important, but pales in comparison to the lasting legacy of creating the Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area, a national treasure. Thanks to the Howard Baker Jr. and others it will be protected forever. It is one of my favorite places on earth and I sincerely appreciate Baker's work to protect it.

Mike Knapp's picture

roger that

roger that

Average Guy's picture

Funny (or sad) that this is a

Funny (or sad) that this is a thread about a guy nicknamed the ‘Great Conciliator’.

R. Neal's picture

Y'all knock it off. This

Y'all knock it off. This discussion is about Howard Baker Jr., for good or ill.

Rachel's picture

Sorry, Randy. I should have

Sorry, Randy. I should have let the "Sandy" thing go, but I hate seeing women treated with that kind of b.s.

I'll be good now. :) (update: although judging from this morning's post, not everybody got your message)

Brian Hornback's picture

I agree, for some reason a

I agree, for some reason a few people on here, like to hate on me. Jealous, I guess.

fischbobber's picture

The man I met

A general feeling of melancholy came with the news of Howard Baker's passing, and I thought I'd come to share my snapshot of him with like-minded people who also missed the nature of a time when statesmen still had a dominant voice in Washington. I was working at the Fox Theatre when I had my encounter, but after reading this thread it seems this clip

(link...) (also from my stint there)

is far more apropos than sharing my story. As with any good wake, I hope that Mr. Baker is looking down on this assessment, chuckling, while thinking up something diplomatic, charming and disarming to say. The man I met was a gentleman, and earned and deserved better than he's getting here.

rocketsquirrel's picture

I read through all the

I read through all the comments here, and while neither demonizing nor lionizing him, one thing I noticed absent in the discussion was Howard Baker's involvement in scrubbing/whitewashing/fixing the Reagan White House's involvement in the Iran Contra scandal when he was brought in as Reagan's Chief of Staff in 1987. This was an important chapter of the Baker story, imo. Also noteworthy was that he ran against Reagan for president in 1980.

fischbobber's picture

Great and valid point

It seems that the grand lesson many of Reagan's advisors learned from Watergate was to decentralize corrupt subordinates. By doing so Reagan was able to bring in a Howard Baker to clean things up and to an extent, let a George H.W. Bush suffer the political consequences of his misdeeds. The fact that those two were able to salvage the reputation of the Reagan administration is one of the great political miracles and achievements in this nations history.

One can argue that it wasn't in the nation's best long term interest, but one certainly can't argue that Howard Baker's personal integrity was a primary driver of the salvage effort.

Mike Knapp's picture

A very thin line

Let's just say that Theodore Draper wouldn't hand out as many accolades as some of us have here for Senator Baker. I'll have to crack that book back open but I'm pretty sure that Baker didn't break any laws as he went to bat for the team. Not on the level of North, Poindexter et al. He was the paper towel not the spilled Iranian funds...

rocketsquirrel's picture

NY Times Review of Books, May

fischbobber's picture

The Dallas Cowboys

I'm a Green Bay Packer fan and hating the Dallas Cowboys goes with that territory for children of the sixties. But I always liked Calvin Hill, Duane Thomas and Peter Gent. So it is with Howard Baker.

I suspect what went on within the Reagan Administration was far worse than current historians recognize, though, the connection with the Columbian Drug cartel is generally recognized within the intelligence community. It was first Howard Baker's, then George H.W. Bushes job to clean up the various messes that were dangerously close to spiraling out of control. Senator Baker did his job and provided stability to a nation that could well have been plunged into a revolutionary state had things been allowed to continue down the path they were going. Unfortunately Rumsfield, Cheney and several other players lived to make another run and still others achieved folk hero status. So it goes. G.H.W. Bush would be the last person the Republican party can claim as a statesman, putting country before personal gain from holding the office.

But I'm rambling. As a rule, I don't think much of Republicans. Generally, I've found that at the heart of their political philosophy is a deep rooted character flaw that tends to reveal itself with the acquisition of power. Howard Baker always struck me as the exception to that rule, a man who felt his path was the best for mankind in general, not just his own self interests.

R. Neal's picture

Knock. It. Off. All y'all.

Knock. It. Off. All y'all.

jmcnair's picture

Memento mori.

I stopped by today for a last viewing of the Senator. Found myself mourning a man and a party that no longer exists.

It also occurred to me that it must be a strange experience helping design your eponymous building with a "Rotunda" feature where you will one day be on display.


JaHu's picture

I went by to pay last

I went by to pay last respects to Senator Baker today. I have always had the utmost respect for him. My family was originally from Scott County and my grandfather had land bordering Senator Baker's family, in fact over the years my grandpa had numerous land dealings with the Baker and Baker law firm, as I'm sure, many people did that lived in the area. but this was many, many years ago The Bakers owned a lot of land.

My brother became very ill during basic training, this was during the Vietnam era, Baker sent two large airplanes to Ft. Campbell to transport my brother in one of the planes and my parents in the other to Walter Reed Hospital in DC. My brother was just a private. When I learned of this, in my later years,it just gave that much more respect for him and I'm sure there are stories upon stories of the good deeds Senator Baker did throughout his lifetime.

I was really disappointed today when I heard that there were only 700 people to show up at the Baker Center to pay their respects. I was really expecting to stand in a long line to see him. I'm certain that the reason for it was tha Bakers time was many years ago and the current generation really didn't know anything about him. I don't know if others here share my sentiment but, I feel he would have made a great president. His sense of fairness would have made him a great leader. I can only imagine how that would have changed the country. I really think he may have been to good for the job though.

Senator Howard Baker Jr, may you rest in peace.

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