Earlier this week, the newspapers and airwaves were full of tributes to John Dingell, who announced this term would be his last.
Dingell, who turns 88 this summer, is the longest-serving Congressmen in history, and when I first met him, was one of the physically most powerful men in Congress.
Today, he is hard of hearing and frail, but nobody has ever said he wasn’t mentally able to do the job.
This hasn’t always been the case with long-serving congressmen. During his last campaign for the U.S. Senate at age 94, South Carolina’s Strom Thurmond spoke of the brave defenders of the Alamo, and added that they had held off “three thousand Russians.”
Thurmond’s handlers didn’t let him speak much in public after that. He won reelection, but spent most of his final term in Walter Reed Hospital, except when they brought him to the Senate to vote.
Nobody likes to talk about this, but there seems to have been a universal consensus that Dale Kildee, who decided not to run for reelection two years ago, needed to leave.
There’s a reason you haven’t seen him interviewed or commenting on issues since he left. He is, in fact, younger that John Dingell, but not all of us age at the same rate.
I know a woman in her 60s who no longer knows who her husband is.