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Letter: Utah’s delegation should take a page from Arthur Watkins’ book

SHARE Letter: Utah’s delegation should take a page from Arthur Watkins’ book
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Chairman Arthur Watkins, R-Utah, bangs the gavel to resume the hearing on the conduct of Sen. Joseph McCarthy, right foreground, after a brief recess in Washington on Sept. 9, 1954.

Bill Allen, Associated Press

I grew up in Salt Lake, and when I was a teenager in the 1960s, I had the honor to meet former U.S. Sen. Arthur Watkins. He was a Republican from Utah who was given the thankless job of heading a select committee to investigate Sen. Joe McCarthy. Watkins was asked because his integrity was beyond question. He took the assignment knowing full well it would probably cost him his reelection. And it did.

I asked Sen. Watkins if he ever regretted heading the committee, and he said, “No, because the country is more important than me.”

In the 1970s when I worked for a member of Congress from Washington state, I had the opportunity to ask both Sens. Warren Magnuson and Henry Jackson, who served with Watkins, what they thought of him. They both said they greatly respected him because he did what was right during very difficult times.

I hope the members of the Utah congressional delegation — with the exception of Sen. Mitt Romney — spend some time at BYU digging into Watkins’ papers, reading the Watkins Committee reports in the National Archives, and reading local and national newspaper articles from the time to learn how the country is more important than an individual.

Steve Finley

Bellevue, Washington