“It’s just a different time of life.” That’s what Congressman Vic Snyder told me today.

I asked him if he felt that a load had been lifted. His reply was very simple and brief. “It’s just a different time of life.”

Since he announced on Friday that he wouldn’t be seeking reelection, there’s been lots of speculation about the reasons why. Someone even compared him to a rat deserting a sinking ship. Others think Tim Griffin’s 17-point lead in the polls was enough to frighten him out of the race. One writer thinks Snyder just wants to retire “rich.”

The rat comparison doesn’t even deserve comment. Vic Snyder would be the last person I would expect to desert a sinking ship or political position he believed in. And as far as being afraid of Tim Griffin or any other candidate—I’ll bet that the folks saying this can’t name even one time when Vic Snyder backed down from a tough challenge. Remember, he stood alone in voting against the war in Iraq. When it comes to retiring rich, I hope he can, but I doubt he will. In politics you don’t make much money by being honest.

That’s how I have always described Vic Snyder—an honest liberal. He’s a person I almost never agreed with politically—pro-choice, pro-homosexual, probably the most left-leaning person to ever represent Arkansas in Washington—but I knew he was the kind of person who would be a good neighbor if he lived next door. Those who are celebrating his exit from the political stage need to remember that we could end up with someone to the left of Vic, and who is nowhere near the principled person he is.

Most political decisions aren’t as complex as the political analysts make them out to be. Vic is a husband and he is the father of four young children. What better reasons are there for exiting the political stage? For him, I believe it really is just a different time of life. I wish him the very best.