Sunday, November 7, 2010

Isaac Newton "Ike" Skelton - was the best damn Congressman I ever had

Ike Skelton

I am 61 years old. During my life Missouri's Fourth Congressional District has been served by only three persons. George Christopher, William J. "Bill" Randall, and Isaac Newton "Ike" Skelton, IV.

George H. Christopher

George Christopher, who was born on a farm near Butler, Missouri, started his Congressional career representing Missouri's Sixth Congressional District, January 3, 1949-January 3, 1951, and ended in the Fourth, January 3, 1955 - January 23, 1959. George Christopher term ended with his death. The seat was vacant until March 3, 1959.

Jackson County Eatern District Judgde Bill Randall speaking at 1949 event unveiling a statue of county namesake Andrew Jackson

Bill Randall, an attorney and WWII veteran, was elected to Congress succeeding Christopher. From 1947 to 1959 Randall served as a Jackson County Judge. Despite the judicial appellation, Randall did not sit on the bench of Missouri's Sixteenth Judicial Circuit. In those days Jackson County, Missouri was run by a three person "court". Harry Truman served as Presiding Judge of this Executive Branch of Jackson County government from 1927 through 1934. Randall was an ally of President Truman. Randall served on the Armed Services Committee and was the first Chairman on the Select Committee on Aging. Bill Randall was in the Congress from 1959 to 1977 when he retired. I vividly remember a large billboard just east of Knobtown along what was then U.S.50 Highway urging the retention of Bill Randall in Congress. It stayed there for years! Bill Randall returned home to his law practice. He died in 2000.

"Ike" Skelton IV became a Congressman following Bill Randall's retirement. Ike hails from Lexington, Missouri. It is a small town, by big city standards, but large in history from any perspective. Ike's father met Jackson County's Presiding Judge Harry Truman in 1928, the two became friends. Ike attended President Truman's inauguration in January 20, 1949, Ike was 17, I was two months and a day old.

Ike was an Eagle Scout. He attended Lexington's Wentworth Military Academy, the oldest Military Academy west of the Mississippi River, where he earned his A.B. degree. Then Ike matriculated to Missouri's big school, MU. Ike graduated with an L.L.B. degree, they don't give those out anymore (now you have to earn a juris doctor or J.D.). Ike also attended Scotland's University of Edinburgh.

Skelton came home to practice law in Lexington. He ended up serving as Lafayette County's Prosecuting Attorney before his six year career as a State Senator. Ike Skelton became Missouri's Fourth District Representative to Congress in 1977.

Ike Skelton is a lot more conservative than me. That's okay with me. I have been represented in Congress by Democrats and Republicans from three states. My representatives included a House historian, Democrat Richard C. "Dick" Bolling; a conservative Republican stalwart and used car salesman, Gene Taylor; the poster boy for governmental penny pinching, Republican Jeff Flake; and the worst example of a corporate shill serving Wall Street rather than Main Street, the non-caring about anything but herself, Republican and Tea Party Caucus member Lynn Jenkins. Prior to Jenkins was Nancy Boyda the Republican turned Democrat turned defeated Congresswoman who was never hot or cold in staking out her partisan territory . Like the scripture suggests, voters rejected the lukewarm Boyda two years ago after her single term.

I never had better representation in Congress than I did by the good work and steady effort of Ike Skelton. Even after I left the district I believed Skelton's service to West Central Missouri bode well for America. I rested a bit easier each night because Ike was on the job.

In the outlandish and highly distorted campaign reports of Ike's voting record naught was said of how the bills he produced were passed by overwhelming bipartisan majorities. The debates on those bill were marked by effusive politeness and cordiality. I never saw any of the harsh rancor and name calling associated with the work of the Congress Chairman Skelton rose.

If Vicky Hartzler turns out to be a Lynn Jenkins clone then all the worse for America, Missouri, members of our Armed Services, veterans, and all who want the gridlock brought to a halt. We will feel the loss of Ike Skelton in Congress. Wall Street Fat Cats and special interests are the winners if Hartzler follows the Jenkins path. All I can say to my friends from Lexington to Lebanon is follow the money and turn FOX Propaganda off.

Ike Skelton was the best damn Congressman I ever had.

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