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John Dingell, After Only Fifty-Eight Years, Calls It Quits

 

John Dingle Fifty-Eight Years Ago

 

After only 58 years in the House, one year longer than I have been alive, John Dingell (D.Mi.) decides to cut short his career in Congress:

Rep. John Dingell is leaving the Congress he’s served for longer than anyone else in United States history.

At a luncheon Monday in his beloved Downriver, the Dearborn representative says he will announce he won’t seek re-election this fall to the seat he’s held since 1955.

“I’m not going to be carried out feet first,” says Dingell, who will be 88 in July. “I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.”

Dingell says his health “is good enough that I could have done it again. My doctor says I’m OK. And I’m still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill.

“But I’m not certain I would have been able to serve out the two-year term.”

More than health concerns, Dingell says a disillusionment with the institution drove his decision to retire.

“I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,” he says. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.

Go here to read the rest. This statement is truly hilarious:   “I don’t want people to say I stayed too long.”  The type of permanent member of Congress exemplified by Dingell is Exhibit A for term limits.  Dingell succeeded his father in his Congressional seat, taking over after his dad died in office in 1955 after a mere 23 years in Congress.  One family has thus controlled a congressional seat for 81 years.  It looks like his wife Debbie, who was one year old when her hubbie was first elected to Congress, is thinking of running for the seat.  The Founding Fathers weep.

 

 

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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.

14 Comments

  1. “I find serving in the House to be obnoxious,” he says. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.

    The man’s long had a terrible reputation for rude behavior and efforts at intimidating people.

  2. Dingell did not mention that the Democratic Party controlled Congress for the first 40 years he had a seat in it, and he was a committee chairman around half that time (and notoriously mean in that capacity). They’ve had control for 4 of the last 19 years and their prospects for regaining control ‘ere Dingell reaches the age Robert Byrd was when he was literally carried in and out are just about nil.

  3. ‘Dingell says his health “is good enough that I could have done it again. My doctor says I’m OK. And I’m still as smart and capable as anyone on the Hill”.

    Yeah, Mr. Dingell: what a gold standard that is…

  4. 58 years….my dad and my uncle didn’t live to be 58 years old. An 88 year old man running for Congress is ridiculous.

    His district bares the blame as well. He should have been retired decades ago.

    Dingell is the man who referred to the ATF as jackbooted thugs. Tom Brokaw left that out when he reported that the NRA had a film that referred to the ATF in that matter.

  5. “Dingell succeeded his father in his Congressional seat, taking over after his dad died in office in 1955 after a mere 23 years in Congress. One family has thus controlled a congressional seat for 81 years. It looks like his wife Debbie, who was one year old when her hubbie was first elected to Congress, is thinking of running for the seat.”

    And who says we don’t have a dynastic system of (mis)government? Sure, the Republicans have them, too (Fish, Taft, Bush), but I suspect there are more on the other side of the aisle: Kennedy, Gore, Dingell, Long, Wallace, Lafollette, etc. — which lends support to a hypothesis of mine, which is that elitists masquerade as populists in order to gain power, but they’re still elitists.

    What shall we call the supporters of the Dingell dynasty? It’s obvious: Dingellings.

  6. “A DEAD STATESMAN
    I could not dig: I dared not rob:
    Therefore I lied to please the mob.
    Now all my lies are proved untrue
    And I must face the men I slew.
    What tale shall serve me here among
    Mine angry and defrauded young?”

    Kipling, “Epitaphs of the War 1914 – 1918”

  7. “It’s become very hard because of the acrimony and bitterness, both in Congress and in the streets.”

    Yeah, that’s right, when the Jay-Dizzy talks about the streets, you better listen up, punk!

  8. Ding, dong, Dingel. How come you featured this Catholic who voted for Obamacare and it’s abortive support? Good riddance 56 years too late!

  9. Congresscritters such as Dingell are a good Exhibit A in favor of term limits. Although I think many proposed term limits are too short and may cause as many problems as they solve, particularly at the legislative level (for reasons too complicated to explain here), I think 20 years, definitely no more than 30, is plenty for any legislator, state or federal. A 20-year term limit would be short enough to keep people from making it a lifetime career, but long enough to prevent the kind of massive turnover that wipes out institutional memory and leaves most or all of a legislative body overly reliant on unelected people such as staff and lobbyists. Most members of Congress and state legislators will probably quit or be voted out before they hit the 20-year limit in any event.

  10. A 20-year term limit would be short enough to keep people from making it a lifetime career, but long enough to prevent the kind of massive turnover that wipes out institutional memory and leaves most or all of a legislative body overly reliant on unelected people such as staff and lobbyists. –

    1. A man long-experienced in street level New York politics told me that rotation in office would be quite effective at re-introducing a competitive element in elections: occupy a given non-judicial office no more than eight years in twelve.

    2. If you want to restrict life time careers, raise the minimum age to stand for election to 39 (Harry Truman’s age at his first run for office), with a lower bar (say, 32) for presumptively part-time offices (local councils) and for municipal court judgeships. New York has a mandatory retirement age of 76 for its judiciary, which you might adopt for all offices (though it might be considered cruel to campaign for such a measure by showing late-career photographs of Carl Hayden, Strom Thurmond, or Robert Byrd).

    3. Have fewer elected offices to contain opportunities for hopping from one office to another. Elect your Governor; no need for an elected Secretary of State or State Treasurer.

    4. Narrow the portal for certain occupations to enter legislative office. Require attorneys and public employees (and people who have left that state passably recently) to petition or stand as candidates at caucuses with an understudy who is not tainted in this manner. If a political party nominates a slate of candidates with more than a certain share (say, 20%) in tainted occupations, have the board of elections hold lotteries among those tainted candidates to determine which will be replaced with his understudy in order to reduce the share of the tainted to 20%. Careers like Trent Lott’s (legislative staff to legislator) or Barney Frank’s (patronage employee at city hall to legislator) should be very unusual.

    5. Introduce recall elections for judges, and allow legislatures a franchise to interpellate judges and cite them for contempt.

    6. End the requirement of strict equipopulousness in drawing legislative districts in favor of a practice manual for drawing districts which obviates systemic malapportionments which benefit one type of constituency over another or one subregion over another. The problem we used to have in New York was not that one constituency was more populous than another, but rather than the apportionment and districting rules guaranteed that non-metropolitan counties would by systemically over-represented decade after decade. Such a manual need not be rococo at all (10 pages of instructions at most) and if any discretionary lines are required at all, these can be drawn by local boards of judges (who run in fixed boundary constituencies) rather than centralized in state legislatures.

    7. Add ordinal balloting. Having more vigorous 3d party challenges will make elections more engaging.

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