Our Opinion: Speaker invites ceremonial power sharing

Well played, Mr. Speaker.

House Speaker Tim Jones replaced potential controversy with courtesy Wednesday by inviting Missourians to nominate candidates for the Hall of Famous Missourians.

The speaker of the state House of Representatives is a powerful position. Among the more ceremonial powers is sole discretion in selecting additions to the gallery.

The Hall within the Capitol features the bronze busts of more than 40 inductees, including Harry Truman, Mark Twain, Laura Ingalls Wilder and George Washington Carver.

Jones, R-Eureka, on Wednesday invited Missourians to suggest candidates for the Hall. In the coming year, he plans to add three inductees — two selected by Missouri residents and a third of his choosing.

“During my time as a member of the Missouri House I have heard from citizens from all around this state who have strong opinions about great Missourians that should be included in the Hall,” Jones said. “This is their opportunity to have their voices heard, to help us recognize the outstanding individuals who have made important and lasting contributions to society, and who truly deserve to join the ranks of the remarkable individuals already enshrined in the Hall of Famous Missourians.”

Missourians may make nominations from Sept. 13- Oct. 13 by visiting www.house.mo.gov/Famous

MissourianSuggestions.aspx.

Jones’ more inclusive approach follows a 2012 controversy when former Speaker Steve Tilley, R-Perryville, elevated conservative commentator Rush Limbaugh to the Hall.

Critics, including some Democrats, pounced on the choice of Limbaugh, who at the time was embroiled in a controversy of his own after characterizing a law student — who testified for a requirement that birth control be included in health insurance coverage —as a “slut” and “prostitute.”

Jones’ action may be attributed to the Shakespearean adage that “discretion is the better part of valor.”

In this ceremonial matter, power sharing plays to the speaker’s advantage. He relinquishes no political clout, while winning popularity from an unselfish act.

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