How much clout does a respected former U.S. senator from Missouri have who once was considered the conscience of the hallowed chambers of our government? We should find out this week when President Donald Trump visits Springfield to talk about tax reform.

Former Sen. Jack Danforth has come out against a member of his party who is president, and is urging top Republicans in the state to “disassociate” from him.

That is one of the most stunning rebukes to date directed at a president from a leading member of his party!

President Trump is becoming more and more isolated as Republican leaders speak out against him. Danforth called Trump a “hateful man” in an opinion article he wrote for The Washington Post.

In his commentary, Danforth said Trump is the “most divisive president in our history.” That’s somewhat of a stretch. He is the most divisive president in recent times. No doubt about that. However, the country already was divided before he was elected. President Trump has just added and expanded the division.

Sen. Danforth certainly had the respect of members of both parties while serving in the Senate for nearly 20 years. He always was a gentleman and respectful to members of both parties. The “conscience of the Senate” did speak out forceably on issues. It could not be said with absolute surety that he was one of Missouri’s greatest senators, but he always was level-headed, morally upright, honest and he set an example as to how our elected officials should conduct themselves.

The Missourian disagreed with him on his position on the proposed Meramec Basin dams. When he was elected, he influenced the late Sen. Tom Eagleton to oppose the dams and they were deauthorized even though land had been acquired and preliminary work started on the Meramec River Dam site near Sullivan.

Sen. Danforth, who is an ordained minister, visited this area often in his youth and as an adult because the family owned a farm just west of Washington on Bluff Road.

Since he left the Senate, Sen. Danforth has served in the role of a senior adviser to the Republican Party, and his support, endorsements have been sought by party candidates for elective offices. His loyalty to the party has been tight.

Despite Sen. Danforth’s stinging criticism of President Trump, Republican elected officials plan to be in Springfield with the president, including U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt and Gov. Eric Greitens. Attorney General Josh Hawley, who is in his first year in the office, will be out of the state on a family vacation that was planned before the president’s visit was announced. Lt. Gov. Mike Parson, a Republican, will be there. Sen. Danforth will not be there.

In his opinion piece, and from later published interviews, it is clear that Sen. Danforth is concerned about the damage to the Republican Party caused by President Trump, who, he said, “is not like us (Republicans).”