There is never a good time for a great statesman and courageous leader to retire from the United States Senate. But it is hard to think of a more inopportune time to be losing Senator Jon Kyl, the chamber’s Number 2 Republican.
Senator Kyl announced this morning that he will not run for reelection when his term expires in 2012. He has represented the people of Arizona with great distinction since 1986, first in the House of Representatives and then in the Senate. Those of us who know him are not surprised at his announcement; we have been dreading it for years – especially since his last reelection was grueling and the prospect of another arduous and expensive campaign was understandably unappealing.
Sen. Kyl’s service on Capitol Hill has been absolutely exemplary. He is a man of unimpeachable integrity, decency, civility and common sense, qualities to which most pay lip service but rarely exhibit. He has shown himself time and again to be a visionary and effective leader on national issues, great and small.
His most important contributions to date, however, have been in the area of national security and international affairs. No other member in the United States Congress – in either chamber, on either side of Capitol Hill – has his command of the defense and foreign policy challenges of our time. No other member has worked harder to exemplify and practice the philosophy Ronald Reagan called “peace through strength.”
The good news is that Sen. Kyl will doubtless be working as tirelessly as ever on such matters over the next two years as the Senate’s Minority Whip. There is little doubt that the Nation will greatly need his vision and savoir faire in the conduct of national security policy during the difficult times ahead.
It can only be hoped that he will be asked to continue his service to our country in some other capacity thereafter – ideally, as Secretary of State or Defense in a new, and far more robust Republican administration.