By Jack Lorts of Fossil, Oregon. Jack is a retired Fossil School Superintendent, current Chairman of the DPO Rural Caucus, and former Democratic candidate for Oregon's 59th House District.
I haven't heard more than token or passing interest in the Presidential candidacy of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. I actually heard one of the talking heads on television the other night state that of all the myriad candidates, Richardson certainly comes to the table with the most impressive background.
Richardson served fifteen years in the House of Representatives. He knows the ways of Washington. He has served in Washington during every Presidential administration since Jimmy Carter. He knows where the bodies are buried.
Richardson served, during the Clinton administration, as Secretary of Energy. As such, dealing with Middle East despots was the name of the game; he knows whereof he speaks. Problems of alternative energy development are issues with which he's dealt on a daily basis as Governor of New Mexico. This is the kind of background and preparation our next President needs to bring to the job. (Maybe even better than owning a baseball team or than failing in the oil business!)
Richardson also served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations during the Clinton years. This is where he gained the first hand foreign policy experience which has lead him to personally negotiate the release of American soldiers and citizens held hostage by terrorists and rogue governments in such places as Cuba, North Korea, Iraq and Sudan. This is the kind of background that lead him to meet with North Korean officials just last December, participating in the kind of preparatory talks that have lead to the recent success of the six-party talks.
Richardson has served the past four years as the Governor of New Mexico - a state of over 2,000,000 residents. Don't the other candidates wish they could say the same? Don't all of the other candidates wish they could bring this wealth of experience to the job?
As a rural Oregonian, I would love to have a person with Richardson's background and experience working on my behalf, on urban and rural problems alike -- health care, education, jobs and the economy. The voters of New Mexico, a conservative lot who regularly send Pete Domenici back to Washington, just re-elected Richards 70% to 30%. He can work with elected officials of all political stripes.
Richardson would bring extensive foreign policy experience to the Presidency--earned the hard way. Richardson understands energy issues, from the Middle East to the Great Plains. Richardson has worked among the political landmines of Washington extensively, and, as I said, know where the bodies are buried. And Richardson brings the kind of executive experience needed to oversee that bureaucracy to end all bureaucracies.
If the progressives of Oregon fail to realize what they have in Bill Richardson, it is at their own peril. What he offers is what we need in our next President.