Reflecting on Senators George Mitchell ’54 and William Cohen ’62 (WCSH)

cohen copyA Portland news station has profiled two former U.S. Senators from Maine, William Cohen ’62 and George Micthell ’54, in a special feature, A Call to Serve. From humble beginnings, both men achieved remarkable success in their legislative careers and after they retired. “In the 1990’s…President Bill Clinton looked beyond party and put them both back to work — Cohen as Secretary of Defense, and Mitchell as chairman of peace talks in Northern Ireland — extraordinarily challenging jobs,” WCSH reports. Bowdoin’s Chris Potholm, the DeAlva Stanwood Alexander Professor of Government, is interviewed in the documentary. Watch the show.


  1. Christopher Hanks '68 says:

    Sorry to rain on his parade, but William Cohen was ineffective as Secretary of Defense – his “Defense Reform Initiative” did nothing to change how the DOD operates – and his signature legislation as a Senator, the Clinger-Cohen Act of 1996 [otherwise known as the Information Technology Management Reform Act of 1996 (ITMRA)] is one of the main reasons why federal IT management has become the disaster it has become.

    One example – at the DOD no less:

    The DOD’s big Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) programs, which were put in place in part to satisfy the Clinger-Cohen Act’s requirement that federal agencies must put “overarching enterprise architectures” in place were, as of May 2012, cumulatively $6.0 billion over budget and 31 years behind schedule. You’d think with a record like that somebody in charge would step back and say “this isn’t working.” They can’t, in part because teh Clinger-Cohen Act is still law. As of May 2013, the DOD’s FY 2014 budgeted totals for sixteen major ERP programs were: $1.6 billion (FY2012 actual); $1.8 billion (FY 2013 estimated); and $1.7 billion (FY 2014 requested).

  2. Peter H. Dragonas, '59 says:

    The Hon. Wm. Cohen is remembered by me as a Freshman when I was a Senior. There were no surprises as he progressed from the Maine moderated, conservative culture to Sec. Of Defense under Pres. Bill Clinton He joined a team of convivial Maine representatives as they worked in the best interests of local and national objectives. Mitchell, Allen, and Cohen all with Bowdoin Connections joined by Snow and Collins followed in the footsteps of Ed Muskie and my heroine, Margaret Chase Smith. They supported their commitment to be true representatives of their constituents. While, the previous contributor, points out to specifics that do not rest well, I believe that history will continue to value Maine’s leaders as true Patriots. Bowdoin’ s contribution to leadership since it’s founding in 1794 and the rise of Maine to a new and Free State in 1820 is etched in stone.

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