Sam Nunn's legacy of bipartisanship

Former senator Sam Nunn

I was in Atlanta Monday to see Georgia Tech honor one of its finest -- Georgia's former Senator and longtime chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Democrat Sam Nunn.

When he retired in 1997, hundreds of pieces of legislation bore his name -- everything from major reorganization of the military to the program he created with Republican Senator Richard Lugar to help the Russians dismantle their outmoded nuclear missiles and convert their deadly payloads into fuel for America's nuclear power plants.

Nunn has been called a renaissance man but to me he was always a retro senator -- a politician from another era when the senate was a place of giants and the greatest of them found ways to rise above partisanship and work with those in the other party to actually accomplish things.

Today's politicians savor their partisan victories but here is just one result of Nunn's approach. Because of the Nunn-Lugar program to dismantle Russian nuclear missiles, today one out of ten light bulbs in this country is powered by reprocessed nuclear fuel that once sat atop enemy missiles aimed at us. Now that is a legacy.

I'll never forget Nunn's parting words when he left Washington: "I never accomplished anything without the help of someone from the other party."

Ah, those were the days.

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    Bob Schieffer is a CBS News political contributor and former anchor of "Face The Nation," which he moderated for 24 years before retiring in 2015.