Tag Archives: John Dingell

John Dingell: RIP, dean of the House

I predict that after a certain amount of time has passed that some congressional critics are going to suggest that the late John Dingell was the embodiment of the need to impose limits on the terms of members of Congress.

I would argue that John Dingell embodied instead the best argument against such a restriction.

Dingell, a Democrat, served his Michigan congressional district for 59 years, the longest continual service in the history of the House of Representatives. He succeeded his father, who died in office. When he left office, Dingell turned it over to his wife, Debbie, who’s in the office at this moment.

Dingell served alongside every president from Dwight Eisenhower to Barack Obama.

What is most remarkable about Dingell is that he accomplished so much while serving in the House. He was far from just a placeholder, a backbench bomb-thrower.

He was a former board member of the National Rifle Association, he helped champion environmental legislation, he was a friend of labor, he sought to elevate government oversight in Congress, he supported civil rights legislation and turned against the Vietnam War in 1971.

What we need to understand about Dingell’s nearly six decades in the House is that the voters who kept re-electing him were satisfied with the representation he gave them. Had he run off the rails at any time during his lengthy time in the House voters would have taken matters into their own hands. They would have booted him out. They chose instead to keep John Dingell on the job.

Therefore, I stand by the assertion that Rep. Dingell is a testament against a foolish and unnecessary restriction on members of Congress.

Dingell the Dinosaur calling it quits

John Dingell is a congressional dinosaur and even might admit it himself.

The longest-serving member of Congress is leaving office at the end of this year and he doesn’t sound like someone who’s going to miss the place it has become.

Instead, he seems to be missing the place it used to be.

Dingell, a Michigan Democrat, is now 87 and has seen lots of change over many decades of service. He has led powerful House of Representatives committees and has put his name on key legislation. He worked to enact laws with the help of Republicans — and it’s that bipartisanship that appears to have taken leave of Capitol Hill.

Dingell expressed understandable frustration with the new climate in an interview with USA Today.

“We’ve accomplished very little,” Dingell said of recent Congresses. “We’ve been engaged in all manner of small, spiteful fights. We have failed to carry out our responsibilities in addressing the big issues the day.”

The culprit? It’s the tea party wing of the “other” party, the Republicans who share power with Democrats on Capitol Hill, according to Dingell.

“A lot of these new ones,” he said of his junior colleagues, “have no awareness … of the need to work together, no awareness of the need for members to be friends off the congressional campus, no need they see in their lives to be responsible in terms of building trust and relationships to let us work together.”

Dingell is far from being alone in wishing for the good old days. But, indeed, it’s the “good old days” that have become the target of the tea party members’ own anger and frustration.

Have they made Congress a better place to serve the people who sent them there? John Dingell doesn’t believe so.

The old curmudgeon is glad to be leaving and will leave the partisan bickering to others.

Congress too mean even for John Dingell

When John Dingell says that life in Congress has become too much to handle, then you know things have gone badly.

Rep. Dingell, D-Mich., is the longest-serving member in the history of the U.S. House of Representatives. Today he announced he is retiring at the end of his umpteenth term.


For 58 years Dingell has been serving the people of his House district.

I’m trying to think if there has been a more cantankerous member of the House then Dingell. One name comes to mind: the late Jack Brooks, D-Beaumont, who served for 40 years before losing his seat in the landmark 1994 Contract with America GOP sweep of both houses of Congress. “Sweet Ol’ Brooks,” which he called himself, was my congressman and we had, shall we say, a checkered relationship during the years I covered him while working for the paper on the Gulf Coast.

Dingell is at once a poster for and against term limits. He made congressional service his career, which term limits proponents say runs counter to the Founders’ wishes. Then again, the folks in his Michigan congressional district thought enough of him to keep re-electing over the course of 50-plus years.

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

So, another longtime veteran is calling it a career. When this man says public service in Washington has become “obnoxious,” then you’d better break out the gas masks.