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Our Opinion: Wrong venue for grandstanding

A basic axiom of politics is never pass up an opportunity to grandstand.

The Republican House speaker pro tem provided a stellar example Monday when he not only corrected, but capitalized, on an honest — and insignificant — mistake.

Rep. Jason Smith, R-Salem, re-administered the oath of office to his House colleagues. The do-over was conducted, he said, because the word “government” was substituted for “constitutions” in the oath administered when the session convened.

The earlier oath was administered by Missouri Supreme Court Chief Justice Richard B. Teitelman, which proves that another axiom — to err is human — applies to everyone, including the state’s top jurist.

Smith conceded the correction was unnecessary; representatives signed a correct version of the oath, which authorizes them to act in their official capacities.

Smith not only corrected an inconsequential misstatement, his office issued a news release, in which the lawmaker said: “It’s unfortunate that the oath of office we were asked to swear was misstated. Members were asked to pledge their support to government rather than to the Constitution that outlines and protects the sacred rights of the people.”

He elaborated: “As conservatives who believe in limiting the size and influence of government and not in pledging oaths to support it, we felt it was important that we retake the oath.”

And embellished: “My colleagues and I want to make it clear that we are here to serve the will of the people and the Constitution, and not to cater to the whims of a bloated governmental bureaucracy.”

The message is loud and clear; it also is one we support.

Components of public service include developing a political philosophy and articulating it.

We have no quarrel with that. What we find inappropriate is making a proverbial mountain out of a molehill, then using the pseudo-summit as a platform for grandstanding.

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