He was a young man when he first came to Congress, tall, gangly, and with questionable taste in haircuts and ties.
Owlish old Sam Rayburn swore him in on a chill December day, saying something, no doubt, about his father, who had held the seat before him, and who had died just months before.
That was more than fifty-five years ago. General Motors, the world’s richest corporation was putting ever bigger tail fins on their cars, and consumers were just starting to wonder if they’d ever be able to afford one of those sensational new color TVs.
That was the world when John Dingell Jr. arrived in Washington at the end of 1955, the country‘s newest and youngest congressman. He was twenty-nine then. This summer he will be eighty-five. Everybody else who was in Congress when he arrived is gone.
Most are dead.
When he arrived, Barack Obama and Sarah Palin were years away from being born. He’s stayed in the House longer than anyone in history. Two men have stayed in Congress longer, when you combine time in both chambers.
John Dingell will pass one of them soon. But to beat the other, West Virginia’s Robert Byrd, Dingell has get reelected one more time, next year.
This week, the man they used to call the truck announced that he intended to try to do just that. He’s running again.