Where should the partisanship stop and the statesmanship begin?
Well, this would be a place to start: A trio of Minnesota Republican representatives should stop opposing the renaming of a veterans' hospital, and let supporters change the name to honor the late Sen. Paul Wellstone.
The gesture would be politically smart. More important, it's the right thing to do, as it would represent the congressmens' willingness to defer to their opponents on some symbolic issues now and then, rather than react to every quarrel with a sense of win-at-all-costs.
The Associated Press reported that legislation in Congress to rename the Minneapolis Veterans Affairs Medical Center after the late Sen. Paul Wellstone has not passed because of objections of some Minnesota Republicans.
Supporters of the renaming say Wellstone's tireless work on behalf of veterans makes the late senator eligible for the honor. Opponents -- who include Reps. John Kline, Mark Kennedy and Gil Gutknecht, all R-Minn. -- say Wellstone was anti-war and anti-military long before he was pro-veteran, and that besides, in Kline's words, the hospital should be named instead for a "real war hero."
More important, if veterans' groups and leaders opposed the renaming, that would be strong evidence against the gesture. Wellstone supporters themselves would look heavy-handed if they tried to force the renaming upon veterans who didn't want it.
Clearly, Wellstone's work on behalf of veterans was both effective and sincere. The senator's death and the deep sense of loss it inspired also make the renaming seem appropriate. It would be an important and meaningful memorial to a gifted and respected man.
The representatives should stand aside and let the renaming proceed, as a gesture of the civility Congress still needs to work.
-- Grand Forks Herald
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