Hatfield wasn't perfect. He was the target of two ethics investigations. One involved his wife, Antoinette. In 1984, Mrs. Hatfield, a realtor, received $55,000 in fees from Basil Tsakos, a Greek financier, "while Hatfield was promoting Tsakos' trans-Africa pipeline proposal," Salon.com reports. "Hatfield denied wrongdoing." The Hatfields apologized and donated the money to charity. And in 1992, Hatfield, writes the Washington Post, "was formally rebuked by the Senate ethics committee for not disclosing more than $42,000 in gifts from friends and lobbyists." He apologized again and was later cleared of the charges. Mostly, though, Hatfield lived up to the "St. Mark" label applied to him by his admirers.
Hatfield was thought of as a consistent "pro-lifer." He opposed abortion (though he never worked to limit it), the death penalty and war. In 1982, he told the Christian Science Monitor, "There is to me a direct ratio between the increase of our arsenals and the diminishing sense of national security. There comes a time in a nation's life when additional money spent for rockets and bombs, far from strengthening national security, will actually weaken national security -- when there are people who are hungry and not fed, people who are cold and not clothed." That last line is straight from the teachings of Jesus.
Some of his fellow Christians may not have always agreed with Mark Hatfield, but they couldn't accuse him of hypocrisy. He consistently lived by the standards he professed and challenged others to do the same. Though we may have disagreed on some political issues, our common faith kept us close. In the end that is all that really mattered -- to Mark Hatfield and to me.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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