Danforth's new task

Tuesday, June 15, 2004

The announcement that President Bush had picked John Danforth of Missouri to be the next ambassador to the United Nations came the day before Ronald Reagan died. As a result, Danforth was thrust into the national limelight, this time as the person selected by the Reagan family to preside at the former president's funeral in the National Cathedral.

While writing a homily that both honored Reagan and expressed the Christian hope of eternal life through salvation, Danforth also was no doubt pondering the tasks that lie ahead at the United Nations. The former Missouri attorney general and three-term U.S. senator will take up the U.S. government's negotiations concerning Iraq following his confirmation as ambassador.

His confirmation is all but assured. Danforth is a moderate who has maintained good working relations -- and a good many personal relations as well -- with those who might disagree with him on certain issues.

It was no happenstance that Danforth presided at Reagan's funeral. He is an ordained priest in the Episcopal church and has maintained an active pastoral ministry throughout his political career. His theological training and his pastoral experience contribute positively to his new role as a negotiator and spokesman for sensitive U.S. positions at the United Nations.

Danforth has long been regarded as something of a statesman, even before he left the U.S. Senate. He tried valiantly to raise the nation's awareness of starvation and suffering in African nations while in office and most recently has served as President Bush's envoy to Sudan, a nation whose people felt the ravages of war.

Danforth is a good choice for his new U.N. duties. Missouri should be proud of the mark he has left with his political career and should hope for continued success from this servant of the people.

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