Patricia Murphy at The Atlanta Journal-Constitution:
If a single moment epitomizes the legacy of Johnny Isakson, it came on the day in 2019 after the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis spoke in Isakson’s honor. Lewis, the longtime Georgia Democrat, had spoken of his admiration and affection for Isakson, the longtime Georgia Republican as Isakson prepared to retire from Congress after more than 20 years. Lewis called his friend “a warm and welcome gentleman in the truest sense of the word.” And instead of waiting for the ailing Isakson to come shake his hand, Lewis crossed the aisle of the cavernous chamber to hug the senator where he stood. “I will come over to meet you, brother,” Lewis said.
The image of the two men, one white, one Black, from different parties sharing an embrace was so at odds with the toxic partisanship we’ve come to expect from Washington that it made the front pages and homepages of newspapers around the country. But for Georgians, it was just one more example of leaders with different ideologies but a shared commitment to finding common ground. Within a month of that image, Lewis announced that he had stage 4 pancreatic cancer and Isakson had gone home to Georgia for the last time after Parkinson’s disease had made his work impossible. In the hours after Isakson died on Sunday, his longtime chief of state Joan Kirchner Carr told me, “The loss of Johnny is the loss of true decency and civility — both of which are in perilously short supply today.”